An update: I don't have time to read all the other posts right now, not even my own, but I did want to pop in and say that we've reached some peace on the subject. Several things we've learned:
1) While *I* am an unschooler regarding my own learning (now, at this advanced age), my son will, to his own detriment, stay down on the computer all day and night until he's a mess. A cranky, dissatisfied mess. I don't think unschooling works for us. Not 100 percent, anyway.
2) We've set a VERY liberal screen limit for him, and we have a system where he comes upstairs at the halfway point and we do some really loose "lessons." Since he's hugely into creative writing and he has dictated more 13+ page stories to me than I can even count, he does the BBC Dance Mat typing program. (I am not willing to continue to be his secretary for that much longer, though I will stay on as his editor.) I also read to him from Story of the World (1 chapter). Then he reads ME a chapter from Life of Fred, which is quite adorable. It's the only math that doesn't make him scream. Also, for a while there I was having him trace lower case letters (something most kids do in first grade) and also practice writing them, because the act of writing was slowing him down and he's got a powerfully creative mind. I wanted to help him get to where writing was easier and clearer to read. He improved so much I have ceased having him do that. And of course we do other things together during the break, like read for fun, and eat lunch, and he has to pick up his clothes off the bedroom floor, and then he goes back down for part two of his Minecraft time. The deal is, he operates within those limits or he can't have so darned much time.
What I like about it is that the "lessons" is that it gives him a chance to practice trying hard and succeeding. Before the Dance Mat typing, he was using my college typing book and he found the exercises boring to do (but the repetition really is necessary). To help deal with the boredom of it, I suggested he use the Stopwatch function on my iPhone and time each line. Well he ended up really rising to that occasion. He enjoyed trying to beat his own record. Many tears came at those lines that took too long for his liking, but many high-fives came when he sped up and broke his own record. I think this is so very beneficial! Although I know I really need to increase the level of the challenges because he is getting older. He still folds up far too easily in the face of a challenge. Mostly that's because I've always been here and WAY too available to solve his problems for him. (I truly regret that; it has hurt him.)
For the rest of our day we are unschool-y. He soaks up politics while we watch the debates and the conventions and talk about them at length; our fiction stories we read (Warriors series) offers amazing parallels to the human world which brings up all kinds of discussions quite naturally, whether about politics, emotions, nature, diplomacy, religion, etc. ; our amazing backyard keeps us in touch with nature, and so on and so on.....our days are quite free-form except for the mini lessons at break time. But I needed to build in some structure. And I am sending him to a few classes, too: this semester, one is for media literacy, and the other is a math/science combination, very hands-on. He needs to learn what it's like to work with others and collaborate, and to learn from them and possibly be inspired by the other students and the teacher....his world will be a small, cramped world, not unlike a little mushroom growing under a tree root, unless I "force" certain activities where I think he really truly needs it. He has told me he fears working with other kids, and speaking from experience when you start to be afraid of trying new things, your world gets small. I don't want to be heavy handed, but I don't want him to be lost and devoid of skills when it's time to "graduate." I don't want homeschooling him to have turned out to harm him by allowing him to hide from certain areas of growth and competence (and confidence).
It's a delicate balance. Some unschoolers say that kids will challenge themselves and they don't need us parents to artificially create challenges for them. To some extent that might be true...for some kids more than others. My son certainly will try VERY hard to teach himself things and overcome challenges in Minecraft, but there's a tangible world out there he also needs to be able to live in. It's my job to prepare him for that. If he's staring at a screen ALL day, I'm not doing him any favors. Much as I might wish he were self-propelled, like some other unschoolers I know, to just pick up Shakespeare and read it all day, or find joy in science experiments or, heck, even bike riding out in the neighborhood. He's afraid of that too. Too sheltered!! (Part of this is that he's homeschooled AND an only child.)
Laurie Couture, whom I admire, says "no screens," and I am not willing to take that step because it really would hurt my son in a personal way. He adores Minecraft. It has meaning for him beyond what I understand. So limits are how we've chosen to handle it. It really does make my life harder, too, because DS is right-brained and sort of ADD and has proven himself incapable of keeping track of his own Minecraft time. (I so desperately want him to take over that task because I believe it's his job.)
Anyway thanks for listening. My views sure have evolved over time! It must be hard for you guys to figure out where I'm coming from half the time.... :-)