I did get the sense that you probably had some worries over the obsession part of it more than anything and I understand it. I can tell you that your son is at a developmental stage where he's gonna obsess about things probably more than at other times and that it's way to early to put adult context into that. I know when my oldest was a few years younger it was much more worrying for me when he'd start getting into things (and they so often seem to be commercial stuff that I just don't understand) but now that he's older and gone through these phases (and I've seen other friends kids do it similarly), I can see some rhythm to the process and know that the obsession is nearly always something he grows through. He picks up the parts of that thing that he appreciated most and moves onto something else.
Also, it might be helpful to keep in mind that addictions are behaviors we do to make up for or mask things that we can't deal with. We use those things we are addicted to as coping mechanisms, not as areas of interest. I would pay more attention to WHY he is being obsessed than what it is he is obsessing about. Is it having the material item that he cares about, it is the story of it, is it the manual playing with the item. IME, emotionally healthy children don't get addicted to things, they get obsessive with things that a lot of us mothers are appalled by but then they move on after a while (which could be 6 mo or a few years) My oldest has been playing with Legos for a decade now and he goes through all sorts of phases with it but I don't think that he's addicted to them anymore than I would say that I am addicted to sewing or buying fabric simply because it is a passion of mine.
:agree. but my impression was that the opposite was happening (i.e. you were constantly irritated) - perhaps I was mistaken.
In the past he was using his creativity in other ways that were about creating.
So I am slightly confused - are the new sets not about creating? I get that they have a predetermined thing that you create but I am guessing that it still involves some creativity - and if they are talking about it for hours then is it firing their imagination in some way? I have actually never bought these so I am clueless about how they work. But I can't help thinking "at least it is not TV / video games." :duck.
And having never bought them I have never seen the ads either - but I understand from this discussion that not only has the marketing has changed but the terms of engagement with the blocks also seems to have changed. I think that as a kid, breaking down the finished building was an integral part of the experience - and made it possible to be wildly experimental in the building phase as well. Like the sand paintings in Buddhist art that are wiped away after they are complete - there is something special and ineffable in that. If the new Legos are designed to be built and kept standing then it is a different ball-game. Plus of course it helps them sell more legos. With the regular legos there is such a thing as enough.
That's not really anything new. Lego has been selling themed sets since I was a kid in the 70's (and we still have those legos). Whether kids want to keep them built or take them apart afterwards is likely a temperamental issue. What IS new to this generation is that Lego is doing themes that tie into movies; Star Wars, Toy Story, Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, etc.
My DS is 7 and has taken up Lego (mostly Star Wars) as a passion/obsession as well, and I get what you are saying about him talking about it ALL. THE. TIME. It was driving me truly nuts. I wanted to hear about his other interests, any other interests. First of all, it seems to be normal developmentally for boys this age to be really freaking intense about a particular subject. Unschooling really allows this to reign free, which I think is positive; I don't think anyone is served by teaching someone to repress his feelings. Labeling his interest as an addiction at his age seems like it would be counterproductive to me unless he was actually refusing to meet his own physical needs in order to play Lego. However, I feel the same pangs over making sure that there is balance, that he becomes a well-rounded individual, and his susceptibility to advertising messages. DS does not have time limits on screen time of any kind, and he is the type to really get sucked in and spend a lot of time on it. We've dealt with this by talking about balance and the value of creating and working on mental and physical projects and being engaged in our family and community - basically what it takes to be a functioning, contributing human being - while still acknowledging the need for down time, for absorbing interesting media, etc. DS realizes his time can easily get sucked away at one absorbing thing, like Lego or video games without him noticing, so we have collaborated on different ways to keep that from happening. For a while we had a "no screen time first thing in the morning" rule, and have tried various other systems of limiting so that he would have time to do other things, and now we have a vague routine, rather than outright restrictions, other than generally, he avoids advertising and reviews when he is websurfing because he realizes it "hypnotizes him" into wanting more sets and being dissatisfied with his already enormous collection in a way that doesn't happen with related games or animations.
Second, DS is very expressive and extroverted, and I am not. I need silence sometimes, and he wants to talk all the time. Again, I think this is to some degree a developmental stage. He was defaulting to the subject matter always being Lego sets because, I think, he felt knowledgeable in that area, and could go on for hours about it. Problems started to arise when I would get overwhelmed and ask him to tell me later or didn't understand what he was talking about because I was not as informed or aware of the topic as he was. He took it as me being dismissive or not liking him because I was not as avidly interested in the subject. So we began to sit down first thing each morning and have a discussion on a different topic each day, sort of an "Art of Conversation" series. I explained that a dialogue is a give and take, that taking the time to show you care about the other person's interests and feelings is how we learn about people and build relationships. I told him he would be able to make friends easier his whole life if he were a good listener as well as an intelligent, articulate speaker. We enjoyed our talks. He learned a lot. And it gave us a forum to discuss other things he wanted to try, do, or explore. He expanded his horizons, and we talk about a huge variety of things now. Plus he no longer takes it personally when I am not interested in hearing about his Christmas list in February or the newest Lego set that he wants right now.