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  1. #1
    Senior Member Enlightened shanajo's Avatar
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    Oct 2010

    Default frustration with TV and video games

    I'm planning on banning TV and video games during the week once our xmas break is over. Although, I am planning on allowing occasional educational shows and games that have educational value, and that I decide on. (Such as Starfall for my 4 year old and maybe a bit of Civ 5 for my 9 year old as she got the game for xmas as she's really learning a lot from it already.)

    The Wii and computer games have become all consuming to my kids, and it is driving me nuts. For full disclosure, I was firmly in the "no video games allowed" camp for years. Even when I was growing up I hated them and saw no value in them. Of course, I'm not so firm in that belief now, and having a husband who has been a gamer since junior high has softened me on the issue.

    I am just seeing how addicting these video games can be, not to mention the TV. My kids were never huge TV watchers and these days our only available TV is what we can watch through instant Netflix downloads. However, what's been happening is they are begging to play the Wii and computer games all day long. If we finish a lesson the first thing out of their mouths is, "Can I play Wii now?" If I tell them we aren't playing video games at this time they immediately ask to watch something on Netflix. They are craving this constant screen input and while I don't think things are out of control right now, I can see things heading that way.

    Thankfully my husband is on board with my plan. I'm even thinking of making them earn video game and TV time during the week, to be used on the weekends. I'm not sure on that yet. My boys are going to be not-so-happy with me when they find out about my new video game and TV plan. I think the girls will be okay with it, although it will be an adjustment.

    Have you implemented a no TV or video game rule of any kind in your house, either now or in the past? If so, how has it worked for your family?
    Shana: Homeschooler to four awesome kids, aged 10, 9, 7, and 4, and living in the frozen tundra that is Northern WI.

    Check out my new blog! Learning From Life Homeschool

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  3. #2


    We don't have video games at all here. We do have several DVD games, but those are generally used only on family game nights or when we have company. I do monitor screen time, though. Each day, the kids can watch 2 hours of educational TV and up to an hour of non-educational TV. They also get an hour of educational computer use & up to an hour of non-educational computer time. I make some exceptions for computer time if dd needs more time for her schoolwork (if I think the need is legit).
    After they've finished half their school, done half their chores, & read for at least 30 min, they can either have their non-educational TV or computer time. THey can have the other after the rest of their school is done, their chores are done, & they've read for at least 60 min. That way, the non-educational stuff is being earned by doing chores & educational stuff. Also, attitude is a determining factor. If they do their school & chores, but have a bad attitude about it, they won't get the non-ed TV or computer time.

    The kids are fine with it. I think a big part of that is the fact that screen time has always been monitored. Sometime's we've allowed TV before school, sometimes not until after school is done. We've never banned TV completely on school days, though.

    With all that said, the TV is on a lot in our house. We don't watch it most of the day, but either the TV is on or there is music playing all day. Silence is not welcome in this house - I have to have background noise at all times.

  4. #3


    We didn't have any video games until last year, when we got a wii. DS is pretty good about limiting himself, with the exception of when he gets a new game (like for Christmas). When that happens I try to give him lots of time with it for a few days, so the magic wears off. Then he'll often go for weeks without even thinking about the wii, so I don't stress about it much. We definitely won't be getting any other systems; he wouldn't be able to be quiet long enough to play them anyway.

    DS really only likes educational TV and watches a lot of National Geographic and Discovery, usually on demand because he doesn't like commercials. It's great down time for him and he learns so much, I really don't worry about it. It's pretty much the only time in the day that he's not talking and needing attention, so it's sort of time off for me too.

    That said, I have no problems with taking the wii away if he doesn't turn it off as soon as I ask him to, and he's well aware that I'll be good on my word. He doesn't spend much time independently on the computer unless he's doing his "research" (taking notes on car information) or playing educational games. Both of those activities are skill building and limited so I don't really have to monitor it yet.
    Mama to one son (12)

  5. #4
    Senior Member Enlightened TamaraNC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2010


    We took away public-schooled DS14's laptop two months ago because he was so consumed by video games and chatting. He was angry about it for a couple of weeks, but after a month he admitted to me that he liked having the time to do other things -- like music, art, etc. We're planning on giving it back to him after the New Year for 30 minutes per day, after homework, afterschool work, and chores are done, and only if he's had a good attitude. HSed DD7 and DS5 only think to ask for computer time on weekends (we do a small amount of weekday HS work online), and I limit them to PBSkids. The little kids can watch up to an hour of educational TV during the day, and then all three get to pick one half-hour TV show in the evening. We don't have a gaming system, but I have considered a Wii, which would only come out on yucky-weather days when we can't go outside.

    If only I could limit my own nonproductive computer and late-night TV time...
    [The User Formerly Known as HistoryMom]

    DD7 and DS6, year-round math/science public magnet, after- and break-schooling.
    DS15, in traditional PS.

  6. #5
    Senior Member Arrived dbmamaz's Avatar
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    Jun 2009
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    We are a serious gamer family. I'm not always happy about it (ok, i spend hours berating myself over it), but dh has always been a SERIOUS gamer - baseball stat games and war strategy games as a kid, a rated chess player in canada as a young adult, and soon after we got together, World of Warcraft. I have always had a love-hate relationship with games, where I love them but get very puritan on myself saying its a waste of time and I should be doing something productive.

    Well, first the kids started playing WOW w hubby, and then the youngest (who was 4?) wanted to try. He was struggling, so i helped . . . and before I knew it, 4 yo had wandered off and I was glued to the screen. I was still working then, and I actually cried because I didnt have time to play. DH promised to find me time to play . . . and it turned out to be the biggest shared activity dh and I have.

    So . .. we cant eliminate games. And i must admit, games are a big motivator for my youngest (my only late reader) to read.

    But there are SOME limits. During school days, there are no non-educational electronics during 'school' hours - which is whenever I say it starts (around 10:30), to whenever we are done (usually around 2:30 or 3 for the younger, and 30-60 minutes later for the older one). Although sometimes when i'm exhausted from martail arts, i give in for a gaming break. But i'm hoping to get back on a better schedule after this break - which is 2 full weeks of free gaming time!
    Cara, homeschooling one
    Raven, ds 10, all around intense kid
    Orion, floundering recent graduate
    22 yo dd, not at home
    Inactive blog at longsummer

  7. #6


    I know how you feel. However...I take a slightly different approach. I haven't banned any tv/games, just put a timer next to the computer and explained to ds that he needs to view/play in 30 minute stretches and then do something different so that his eyes and body aren't affected by close screen, sedentary activity. And I try to stay involved and interested in his hobby - even though I was anti-games/computer/tv - so I stay close to him. Ideally, there would be so many amazing non-screen things to do at our house that he wouldn't always be choosing the screen. We're not quite there yet. The Scientific Homeschooler had a good post on this recently.

    Banning and enforcing bans takes a lot of time away from a relationship, which is why I'm not going that way. I do try to model and encourage producing content online/screen rather than simply consuming content and that seems to be working.

    Ds does know he needs to eat, dress, clean teeth etc before computer time. In term time it's up for discussion whether he goes on before doing school work.

    I personally would prefer it if he was outside climbing trees all day. So I hear what you're saying.

    In terms of 'addiction', I heard an interesting idea on the radio last night. It's not so much an addiction, because there's no biological component, more of a learnt behaviour - play computer game, get a reward (winning the game etc) - then the brain begins to crave the reward state. So the child wants to play again.

  8. #7


    Games - I am married to a gamer. So it is difficult/impossible for me to ban them totally, forever. However we have gone through some periods when I did totally ban Xbox games - the latest time for six whole months. This was tough. I took the games and hid them so that not even my husband knew where they were. He agreed that our youngest son's behavior was so extremely affected by them that it was necessary. We are just off this ban and I am going with "limits" and seeing how it works out this time. We do not have a Wii and do not want one. Our kids also do not have any sort of handheld electronic devices. I have enough challenges with DS1's attention issues that I cannot handle competing with a device like that - plus they are not old enough to care for one without destroying it anyway - and we both agree we want them playing real games together, not electronic ones on a dinky screen (which also would not be good for DS1's vision issues.).

    TV - they watch stuff the Tivo records. Mostly Phineas and Ferb and Jacob Two-Two. The TV shows really are not a problem here. They limit them really well. TV was a problem when DS1 was much younger though, and I did have to unplug him for a while.
    DS1 14 in 9th, DS2 12 in 6th
    "The less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine. "

  9. #8


    we have a Wii rule in our house, for every 30 minutes they play, they will then need to go outside and play for 60 minutes, no matter the time or weather! When it is asked, I remind them of the rule, they check the outside and in bad weather re-think the request.
    Our DS 8 will flip out mentally at some point after playing the Wii, usually at bed time for no apparent reason, DS7 plays at a friends house on occasion, we do notice he is a little more aggressive after.
    To each his own, but parents who help their children balance technology with healthy growth are putting their children's long term needs a top priority.
    HS two boys, 8 and 9,
    About to take a wonderful adventure abroad! Wish we could just learn as we roam full time!
    Now on to a great adventure- read about it here at TravelPod
    writing for SensoryFlow when I get the motivation.

  10. #9


    We have a Wii and Netflix. The kids are allowed to watch cartoons in the morning while eating breakfast then we turn all electronics off in the afternoon with the exception of the computer and internet because we use educational software and Time4Learning. We use the Wii as a means of family time and also P.E. for homeschool (seriously, Just Dance makes you sweat! lol.) Otherwise, my daughter is not allowed to play on the computer or Wii without asking. She gets free time on the computer each Friday but ONLY if she has earned it through good behavoir and doing her chores during the week.

  11. #10


    I go back and forth a little. One thing I have definitely observed is that the newer and more novel it is (new game, new system, new website, new TV show, etc.) then the more they want to play. Also, the more I try to control it, the more it sets up a power dynamic that I don't really like with them pestering me to play or watch all the time. When we're able to, I like to let themselves burn out on it so that they leave it behind on their own. I first did this with TV when they were about 4 and it worked brilliantly. Before, they would pester me to watch TV all the time (well, that's a total exaggeration as they're really good about things like that, but it was still getting to me) so I taught the kids to use the remote and find the things they wanted on live TV and the Tivo Now Playing. Then, I let them go nuts with it. Took about three months. After that, they stopped watching so much and brought it down to the amount of time I thought was about right. I did the same thing with their DS's after their bday - let them indulge A LOT for about a month then let them cut it back naturally.

    So that's my ideal. But I'm impatient and technology moves so fast these days. So sometimes I really limit it and am more top down about it. For us, what often works best is looking at the time together when they start and then talking about getting our eyes off the screen when it seems like an opportune moment. Of course, sometimes, again, I'm all authoritative and it doesn't happen that organically. The other thing that helps is that there are set times in our day when screen time is possible - early in the morning before we get moving (as in, before I get up) and then again in the evening. Unless they're sick or we're specifically having a "lazy day" then they know not to even ask. We're too busy with school, friends and activities usually anyway.
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