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#1 of 32 Old 12-05-2011, 07:28 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Disclosure: I'm not really a radical unschooler, mostly because I end up feeling abused and used by my whole family. Maybe that's my issue, but I don't want to debate it. I've read the books... I'm not convinced.

 

Anyhow, I feel like my 8 year old spends waaaay too much time using video games and TV. I fully believe that games have value, but he doesn't do enough else. I hate giving him 'school' tasks and I'd rather him find his own passions and projects, but it's like he has NO other hobbies. I KNOW that people can become highly addicted to video games, so I really don't believe in the self-monitoring ideas that radical unschoolers talk about. I've had siblings, cousins, friends, etc. go through video game addictions and have to ween off and never play certain games again. Sometimes it almost ruined their families.

 

I can't eliminate the games, my husband is a gamer and I also enjoy them, but I'm feeling guilt every day about how much he plays.

 

Is anyone else going through this issue or have you overcome it? Anything will help.

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#2 of 32 Old 12-05-2011, 06:53 PM
 
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Hmm, the closest thing I have to experience with any activity addiction is a childhood friend being addicted to reading books, but I figured I'd throw some thoughts out to get the discussion rolling. It sounds like you don't have a problem with video games, just the lack of non-video-game activities, which is something I can sympathize with.

 

Maybe you could distill your concerns down to the problems you feel are being created by the situation (e.g. missing out on fun and/or opportunities, preventing other family members from doing fun things out of the house because you can't leave an 8-year-old home alone for very long, you're sad because you don't get to spend much time with him) and discuss it with him without blaming the games, in a "How can we solve this problem together?" fashion. Maybe you get him to come up with the idea of less game time by himself. Or he may have other ideas which will make you feel better.

 

What type of games is he playing? Some games are designed with the intention of getting you to spend as much time on the game as possible because the developers tend to get more money the more time people spend playing: free games with micro-transactions, free games with advirtising next to them, or games with a monthly subscription fee. It's not that the developers want you to ruin your life or anything, but those games are more likely to have addictive qualities. On the other hand, games where you just plop down your money up front and pay the same amount whether you play 1 hour or 1000 hours are less likely to have those qualities, even if they are made to be played for a long time. So if he's playing the second type of game, you might feel a little more at ease. If he's playing the first type, it definitely makes sense to be concerned. Perhaps broaching an innocuous conversation about these business models could alert him to the danger? Tell him that you're here to help if he ever feels like he's being sucked in.

 

It's probably hard to tell for sure since you're not a mind-reader (I assume :)), but do you think he's "vegging out" with the video games? And especially the TV. By vegging out, I mean... have you ever spent time doing something that was only a little bit entertaining, not because you found it fulfilling in that moment, but because you lacked the physical, emotional, OR mental energy required to do something better? It's VERY easy to fall into this trap with TV programming, but it can be done with games too. Vegging-out gaming is different than gaming for fun. I see this manifest in my mom when she plays her favorite game over and over and over (and over and over and over...!) again on easy mode. She kinda-sorta challenges herself to get a higher score, but it's really just to kill time. I sometimes catch myself doing it with something like the Solitaire game that comes with Windows. To some degree, vegging out is normal; it's an unfortunate by mostly inevitable side effect of going to work or school full-time. But if he's vegging out very frequently without that kind of energy-suck... I'd see that as a red flag for depression. Possibly seasonal?

 

How long has this been happening? It seems normal for gamers to binge when we get an exciting new game. It can balance out later.

 

Not sure if it's what you meant, but the way part of your post was worded made it sound like you were felt forced to choose between forcing him to do schoolwork and leaving him to discover stuff totally on his own, so I guess I should suggest that you could always suggest all sorts of other fun activities to him. If nothing seems to lure him away from the games, maybe you can pique his interest with non-game stuff related to games. Like if he plays a game where all the characters are named after Norse myth figures, get him a fun Norse mythology book. Or maybe he'd like to create his own games (check out GameMaker or XNA--if he actually finishes a game with XNA, he can put it up for sale on the XBox 360!). 

 

Does he have any issues that might make him wary of other activities? More introverted than you, sensory issues, shyness, attention problems, etc? (I think it's common for ADHD people to like video games because they're either really straight-forward or have built-in to-do lists, 

 

How does your husband feel? You said you felt abused by your family when you practice RU, but does unlimited gaming cause you to feel abused too, or is that just for other aspects of RU? Is it possible your guilt comes in part from the mainstream idea that too much gaming (or sometimes any gaming) is bad for kids? Are other moms giving you that look? Keep reminding yourself that not only are they worried about gaming interfering with children's school work, but they don't believe games can be good for kids like you do. If you could do with a reminder about all the good things games do for your kids, here's a page that lays it out. (Granted, it's on an RU site.) I think it's at least somewhat normal for an 8-year-old to have limited hobbies, since at such a young age he can't really do much without your help.

 

If you do decide that you have to bring down the Mom Hammer and limit game time, here's some random ideas that may help keep him from feeling resentful or disrespected:

--let him have input on his schedule (limited to X hours per day versus limited to X*7 hours per week?)

--fill the first week or two of limited game time with as many totally awesome fun activities as possible

--maybe instead of forcing him to not play games, force him to do some non-game fun with the family

--be sympathetic to the fact that some games don't let you quit on a split-second notice, e.g. you have to find a save point

 

Of course you want him  to learn to deal with this himself, so he doesn't just become a morbidly addicted adult after he leaves home... but he's only 8. You have time to teach him later if he can't learn it now.

 

Hopefully there was something useful in there somewhere. Good luck!

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#3 of 32 Old 12-05-2011, 10:22 PM
 
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I could probably post this same dilemma...we aren't RU either but I am an unschooling wannabe ;)  I had a really hard time deciding the right way to go about video games (we don't have cable TV so that isn't an issue).  DS9 will not walk away from a video game...he will play for hours...all day...all night...one time we let him have a sleep over and he played until we woke up the next morning around 5:30 am and had to force him to go to bed...he was a bear cat to deal with the next day.  He has NO ability to self-regulate.  I had to take matters into my own hands, I had to take it away...we unplugged.  At least during the week and if dad invites them to play.  If he could walk away and have a healthy relationship with video games I wouldn't tell him no when he asks...maybe when he matures a little. 

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#4 of 32 Old 12-07-2011, 03:18 PM
 
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Cylla's post is full of tons of things to think about.

 

With my own ds, he is attracted to gaming because he loves interaction.  Since he is an only child in a neighborhood without available playmates, he chooses gaming as a time filler.  He loves multiplayer online games because he is interacting with other people.  But even just an offline computer game is much more interactive than other activities. 

 

What I do is make sure he has other opportunities available (as much as my own energy allows).  I work 2-3 afternoons a week and do my best to get him out of the house 2 or 3 of the other days.  This entails an excessive amount of driving, imo, because the activities that we've found that are a good fit are all about an hour away.  I keep trying to get more local action going but without much success.  He has always been happy to drop gaming for a real live playmate or to go someplace like a science museum.  That is one of the reasons I've always been comfortable with him self regulating. 

 

I'll also buy science kits (when money isn't so tight) or set up supplies for projects that I think will appeal to him.  At my best, I leave things out for him on the days I have work, sometimes just simple things like baking soda and vinegar, or glitter glue and popsicle sticks.  It's easier now that he's older and finally getting a bit independent.  He'll do more on his own that doesn't involve the computer.


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#5 of 32 Old 12-08-2011, 10:15 AM
 
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Have you ever tried placing a specific time limit. If so, how did that go?

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#6 of 32 Old 12-09-2011, 11:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Cyllya, that is all excellent advice thank you very much. He plays the 'pay up front' types of games usually and the games with items you have to buy he usually tries, but gives up on because we wont pay for them. He definitely is not vegging out. He does have a motor delay (fine motor) so this prevents him from wanting to do much written type work or crafts. He likes building toys but will only do them (or anything else) when the games are off. I guess my issue is that I REALLY want him to develope passions and hobbies of his own that he'll do at home that he loves just as much or MORE as the video games. It's not that I think video games are harmful, I actually believe they teach a lot of very valuable skills, but I wish he was more rounded in his CHOICES. He does love to read and reads for several hours every night at bed. He also is in acting classes which he loves, and other various sports. He will pick up a pen and draw sometimes, but he wont write. My real problem is just guilt and worry that he's not getting enough well rounded experiences in our unschooling home...

 

4evermom -- I like the idea of science kits, etc. and we've bought them before but he's very dependent and doesn't like doing anything alone. I really need him to do things on his own besides video games because I run a home daycare and also have 2 other children. I'm also pregnant and when I get to nap (which is rare!), the only thing he'll do is play games or watch shows (we don't have cable either b/c I forbid advertising, but I like Netflix). I just wish he'd do other things while I'm busy or sleeping. I think I'll ask him if he'd like me to put out things for him to 'experiment' with and let him try that while I'm busy with the other kids.

 

Roar -- I've tried time limits, but I usually just end up saying no to any games while the other children are up or are in the same room as the TV since I babysit, I can't have the other kids exposed to games all day (obviously). Though my playroom is in another part of the house. The only thing I don't like about time limits is that they are artificially imposed and that is something I like to avoid (and is a main reason I dislike public school so much). I really want him to choose the times for himself and get off happily without a big fight. Time limits usually mean fights.

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#7 of 32 Old 12-09-2011, 06:43 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VeggieLovinMama View Post

 The only thing I don't like about time limits is that they are artificially imposed and that is something I like to avoid (and is a main reason I dislike public school so much). I really want him to choose the times for himself and get off happily without a big fight. Time limits usually mean fights.



If he was choosing time limits for himself or happily turning off the screens you wouldn't be posting about though, right?

 

For us, time limits over time lead to better ability to self monitor and use technology intentionally and in balance with other activities. That requires working together, but if you really don't believe in limits that's not going to be successful.

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#8 of 32 Old 12-09-2011, 09:00 PM
 
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With our DS (8yo) we have a system that I got from someone else (who knows, maybe on a Mothering.com forum) for limiting TV-watching time. His limit is an hour and a half per day, and what he usually watches is cartoons that are 15 or so minutes long (on Charter "On Demand"). So he has two jars and 6 plastic chips, each one representing one show (or roughly 15 minutes). So as he finishes a show, he moves a chip from the first container to the "watched" container. When all the chips are gone from the first jar, he's done. So he can spread them out all day if he wants, or blow them all at once, or save a few for the next day. Gives him a lot of control, but just not complete control. I am glad to have heard this suggestion because for the most part it does work. It works better when he is in charge of keeping track (and he's terrible at watching the clock) rather than me hovering or nagging.

 

 

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#9 of 32 Old 12-10-2011, 12:09 PM
 
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It sounds as though you have a full plate at home!  Do you think he's lonely for some of your attention?  I'm just curious.  What I was wondering was if he didn't turn to video games as an easy solution to biding his time without you.  Does the daycare (and little ones) leave you house bound?  Does it prevent you from having tools and activities just lying around the house and yard for him (I'm thinking wood and tools and parts of machines)?

 

I don't think setting your own limits comes perfectly.  You might need to spend too much time doing something before you internalize that you are spending too much time doing it.  Do you have faith that eventually he will see this?  

 

Do you and your husband do gaming sometimes instead of giving full attention to your son?  Could you limit yourself, like making a rule that you and he will do gaming with your son and as a family?  Gaming can be isolating.  Doesn't have to be, and you know that.  I just know when I'm on this computer, my kids don't act as self-sufficiently as when I plop myself down and knit in the room they play in.  DH used to turn on the tube and collapse (he doesn't have much energy at night) and that really caused problems, but sitting reading or working on the daily Sudoku doesn't.  Go figure!  So we made a rule for every one: no TV at night (and I try to limit my MDC and Facebook time to morning and night, except now because the damned computer was left on and it sucked me in--case in point!)

 

I'm not trying to talk you into making limits for your son, but to try to notice if your own gaming time isn't leaving him out in the cold.  If so, make limits for yourself and do stuff with your son instead (even gaming if it includes everyone).  Limits work for us, but I don't think it's the only or best solution.  It works for us because we started very early and imposed them on everybody.

 

Now, to shut this damned computer down!

 

 


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#10 of 32 Old 12-11-2011, 01:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roar View Post



If he was choosing time limits for himself or happily turning off the screens you wouldn't be posting about though, right?

 

For us, time limits over time lead to better ability to self monitor and use technology intentionally and in balance with other activities. That requires working together, but if you really don't believe in limits that's not going to be successful.



Good point. I just get weary over the outbursts when it's time to get off. The timer works because he can't yell at it, but if I'm downstairs or napping, he'll turn it off and keep playing sometimes (this has only happened a couple of times, resulting in a ban from it for the day). I just hate entering into that negative kind of interaction, but it's probably necessary. My real question was just how do you convince kids to want to do other things, to develope hobbies and passions besides entertainment that is made for you (in other words, you don't have to create it yourself). Maybe he's too young, but I've seen adults with no other hobbies and it makes me worried...

 

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#11 of 32 Old 12-11-2011, 01:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NellieKatz View Post

With our DS (8yo) we have a system that I got from someone else (who knows, maybe on a Mothering.com forum) for limiting TV-watching time. His limit is an hour and a half per day, and what he usually watches is cartoons that are 15 or so minutes long (on Charter "On Demand"). So he has two jars and 6 plastic chips, each one representing one show (or roughly 15 minutes). So as he finishes a show, he moves a chip from the first container to the "watched" container. When all the chips are gone from the first jar, he's done. So he can spread them out all day if he wants, or blow them all at once, or save a few for the next day. Gives him a lot of control, but just not complete control. I am glad to have heard this suggestion because for the most part it does work. It works better when he is in charge of keeping track (and he's terrible at watching the clock) rather than me hovering or nagging.

 

 



That is a good idea. It's better than time because my son will say "oh I had to get a drink and go to the bathroom so I deserve an extra 15 minutes on the timer" and then that turns into an argument as well.

 

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#12 of 32 Old 12-11-2011, 01:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

It sounds as though you have a full plate at home!  Do you think he's lonely for some of your attention?  I'm just curious.  What I was wondering was if he didn't turn to video games as an easy solution to biding his time without you.  Does the daycare (and little ones) leave you house bound?  Does it prevent you from having tools and activities just lying around the house and yard for him (I'm thinking wood and tools and parts of machines)?

 

I don't think setting your own limits comes perfectly.  You might need to spend too much time doing something before you internalize that you are spending too much time doing it.  Do you have faith that eventually he will see this?  

 

Do you and your husband do gaming sometimes instead of giving full attention to your son?  Could you limit yourself, like making a rule that you and he will do gaming with your son and as a family?  Gaming can be isolating.  Doesn't have to be, and you know that.  I just know when I'm on this computer, my kids don't act as self-sufficiently as when I plop myself down and knit in the room they play in.  DH used to turn on the tube and collapse (he doesn't have much energy at night) and that really caused problems, but sitting reading or working on the daily Sudoku doesn't.  Go figure!  So we made a rule for every one: no TV at night (and I try to limit my MDC and Facebook time to morning and night, except now because the damned computer was left on and it sucked me in--case in point!)

 

I'm not trying to talk you into making limits for your son, but to try to notice if your own gaming time isn't leaving him out in the cold.  If so, make limits for yourself and do stuff with your son instead (even gaming if it includes everyone).  Limits work for us, but I don't think it's the only or best solution.  It works for us because we started very early and imposed them on everybody.

 

Now, to shut this damned computer down!

 

 



Very good insight :) Yes, I am housebound and my time with my son is limited and I am NEVER alone with him. He even goes to bed earlier than the younger 2 because they are harder to get down at night. When I play games, he watches me and vice versa when I can. I do believe that if I could spend all my time with him playing checkers, or other such games, that he would definitely choose that over solitary video games most of the time. My husband on the other hand hates it when my son tries to watch and ask questions. He's not as social about it and kind of gets in the zone on the computer and doesn't want to be "bothered". I know that's bad, but it's the truth. He/we do lots of fun stuff on the weekends as a family, but gaming still occurs for all of us. The thing is that I have lots of other hobbies and passions and even my 3 year old loves to draw and do crafts and bake with me, but my older son just doesn't (besides his acting classes, swimming etc but those are outside of the house and I want him to find things to do during the days).

 

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#13 of 32 Old 12-14-2011, 10:03 AM
 
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I find that with my 8 yr old extremely video game/computer oriented kid that often a "hey bud, let's take a break from the screen when you get to the end of that level/video/youtube review etc works the best. Or, "hey bud, let's go to the park, read a book together, etc" I have three younger kids, including a newborn, so I get the guilt feeling of just letting him be on the computer b/c he is happy and taken care of when he's screening, but I just try and listen to my intuition and help him find things to do when I feel like it's been too much....

 

 

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#14 of 32 Old 12-18-2011, 06:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That's encouraging that you have a similar family to mine. I've got 2 younger and I'm pregnant. I think the fact that I run a home daycare is really hard on the relationship b/c I can't just read or do an activity with him whenever. However, I'm quitting at the end of May 2012, so I'm really hoping for a fresh start on that.

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#15 of 32 Old 01-04-2012, 11:24 PM
 
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My son loves screen time, too. One thing I do is make sure that I get him out of the house. He loves the playground, for example. We plan activities, we run errands, etc. When he's doing these things he's not on the computer. He also has a sister who he likes to play imaginative games with - if not for her he would likely be on screens more than I'd like. 

 

We've been completely "limit free" when it comes to screen time and I've had a chance to observe that it runs in cycles, and it is seasonal, etc. But I also believe that such things can be problematic for some children and that sometimes the best thing is for the parent to step in. I watched both my kids very closely when they started independently using computers (which, for both of them, was at around 2 years of age), looking for signs that self-regulation was out the window, that they were missing out on stuff, that they were suffering or lacking in some way. I didn't see it - but if I did I would have acted on it. You have to observe your kids and try to chuck any video-game biases you may have out the window for a while, then make your decision based on what you see. 

 

 


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#16 of 32 Old 01-05-2012, 04:52 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I definitely don't have biases against video games I think they are fantastic learning tools. It's just the all consuming nature of play that gets to me. And when he starts to get too emotional (he is emotional anyway with outbursts etc). I just don't want to facilitate an unhealthy habit by not putting limits on the cider game time. My problem is wondering what is too much. I don't like waiting until he's agitated bc then there is a fight.

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#17 of 32 Old 01-06-2012, 07:59 AM
 
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Hi there, I am very curious about unschooling, I find myself here often enough. I hope you don't mind if I join the conversation. My 16 year has had a gaming problem for years. He is in counseling and that has helped our family make alllot of progress. I just wanted to say how great it is that the tone of this conversation is so supportive. For my son gaming is a social identity (public school) and a primary source of pleasure and release (fantasy). The only antedote we have found is one on one time.We are doing a sort of experience therapy, where we go new places or seek out experiences that are out of our normal daily life. We have a large bussling family too. In our case, I know my son is very lonely. The immersion in games insulates him from feeling that. Once I realized that he needed me, but he wasn't going to let himself be vulnerable, I started making more time to mother him. It can be as simple as making dinner together while someone else entertains the LO's. This year I read a book by Gabor Mate' called "Hold on to your kids". The book sort of addressed this dynamic in our society. Anyway I think you are all great moms.


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#18 of 32 Old 01-24-2012, 03:22 PM
 
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I sympathize. You love the unschooling principles, strive towards letting the kids learn on their own, and feel reluctant to institute limits. At the same time, you are seeing your son engaging in behaviours that you, as the mama, can see are not in his best interests. If you were looking for RU solutions you would get them, but you are not and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. I was in the same position as you recently with my DD and her sleep habits and I eventually stepped in and imposed some limits. This was after months of trying to work with her, however, to come up with ideas she could get behind, and having her help brainstorm solutions. 
 

So that would be my first suggestion. Sit down and share your concerns with him, not in a threatening or judgemental way, just as observations from someone who cares about his well-being. I "interviewed" DD about how she was feeling about her weird sleep habits, and learned she was not happy about it. We came up with some good ideas but they didn't work and I think it made it a bit easier for her to accept when I finally stepped in to solve what I felt was the real issue (watching YouTube while in bed). She knows that it's not like me to install limits like this, and while she doesn't like it she knows that I consider this a last-resort solution. I think that helps somewhat. 

 

People have already suggested getting him out as often as you can (classes, field trips, errands, etc). You might also want to consider a late-night limit, a cutoff if you will. First I would suggest having a few conversations with him to see where he is at in terms of how he feels when, for example, he stays up all night playing. Does a part of him wish he could stop when he's tired? Did he like the way he felt the next day after staying up all night? If you can find some common grounds for concern it may be easier for you two to come up with a solution together. You might be surprised at what ideas he may suggest!


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#19 of 32 Old 01-24-2012, 05:12 PM
 
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We don't have set limits, but it's not unlimited either.  I'm not always perfect about it, but what I try to do is say "I'm noticing that you're getting crabby" (or whatever other negative side effect of too much screen time has come up) "and so I think its time to take a break.  Once you get to the next level (or other reasonable stopping point), save and come do something else."  I make an effort to try to help them see WHY I want them to stop, so they can work towards noticing when gaming is starting to make them feel bad.  I also try to model moderation in my gaming, and say aloud when I am quitting because it's starting to make me feel bad.  In our house when I institute a concrete limit, my kids respond by feeling that they MUST get every second they due.  Making the limit more about quitting while it's still fun works better for us.

 

 

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#20 of 32 Old 01-25-2012, 07:25 AM
 
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Another unschooling wannabe here.  :)

I find that my 5yo daughter is mostly able to set reasonable limits on her own screen time.  And if we do think she's getting too much, we can say something like "hey you've been watching/playing that a long time, how about you do something else for awhile?" and she'll say "okay" most of the time.

 

But my 13yo son has NEVER been able to set healthy limits for himself.  We have tried lots of ways to give him more control, but it's been fruitless.  However -- he has ADHD and Asperger's.  This means that his 'executive function' does not work properly, does not engage like it should.  So he has very little self-control, very limited skills on making good decisions.  If he has an idea to do something, he does it, with no thought about consequences etc.  This is not something that can be 'punished' out of him, it's like a learning disability.  It can be 'trained' into him, but only in the very long term.  

 

Our most recent experiment had him fully on board with WANTING to set his own limits.  We decided to try it for a week.  The first day, he did great!  The second day, not so great.  And by the end of the week he was a grumpy zombie, staying glued to the computer as close to 24/7 as he could, barely remembering to eat.  Even though he *wanted* to do other things, he just couldn't manage himself.

 

So the pragmatic real fact is that he *needs* external guidance.  He needs it in order to build up (through habit and practice) his own internal framework so that later in life he *can* have independence.  Some kids just don't have internal structure to manage their own time.  

 

Our current structure is in 'blocks'.  He has a block of school work, a block of free time (where he can play video games), and a block of what I call 'project time' -- where he can do just about anything he chooses *except* video games, social media, etc.  I have a list of suggestions if he needs ideas -- read a book, play with lego, watch a documentary/educational movie, do some composing/recording, do some computer programming, crafts, work on the puzzle, do some stop-motion film-making.  All things that he's interested in and wants to do, but will *forget* to do when he's wrapped up in video games.  

 

By alternating these throughout the day, rather than having all the free time at the end AFTER his school work and chores are done, he's been doing much better with applying himself.  And because he can see that he DOES have free time scheduled throughout the day, he's been quite good about getting off when time's up.  He feels better, he's in a better mood, he's happier.  Even though he just plays for an hour then has to get off, having the structure puts him in a better place emotionally, so he resists less than if he'd been allowed to play for 3 hours straight while unrestricted!  External structure is like a *comfort* for him.  It gives his security and confidence.  Without it, he feels lost and aimless.  

 

So for kids with any kind of issue with self-regulation, an externally imposed structure can be *freeing*.  It sounds contrary to unschooling principles, I know, but I believe that it's the better option for certain kinds of kids.  Within the context of this external structure, my son has a lot of freedom to choose his own activities, and I follow his lead on academic choices as well, so I still try to follow the *meaning* of unschooling, the heart of it, if not the letter of it.

 

My husband (his stepdad) put it an interesting way recently that has really helped my attitude, too.  He said, we don't want to *set him up to fail*.  We have recognized and identified what his weaknesses are, so it's our job to remove those temptations, remove his obstacles, so that we can *set him up to succeed.*  For instance, he has an iPod and when left unsupervised, will text and play games on it 24/7.  When he's supposed to be doing something else.  In the middle of the night.  At the dinner table.  Obsessively and addictedly.  It distracts him from everything.  So he's only allowed to have it in his 'free time' blocks.  I would *like* to let him have it all the time and let him manage his own use -- I don't have a problem with taking a 5 minute break from your work to text a bit, then put it away and go back to work.  That's perfectly normal IMO.  However, *AT THIS POINT IN HIS LIFE* he's not able to do that.  Giving him free access to his iPod all day long is setting him up to fail, because he WILL give in to the temptation and play with it all day.  Treating it like that rather than as a 'punishment' for misbehaving has really made a difference in how POSITIVE we are all feeling about the situation.  That's not lost on my son either.

 

Anyway, from the sounds of it, though, you're still looking for your son's hobbies and interests whereas I already know mine.  Perhaps he needs some steering.  You don't just randomly realize you like something until you've had a chance to try it -- or even to HEAR about it.  ;)  I know things are busy and hard, and maybe it's something that can wait until your daycare is closed (put up with the status quo until then).  But I think you'll need to become more pro-active with your son and try different activities with him.  Not just 'games' but all kinds of things.  Maybe even enroll in some outside activities, courses, etc.  Give him some opportunities to discover what he likes rather than just hoping he'll self-select something on his own.   Maybe when the time is right, do a whole week electronics-free.  This is HARD, I know!  And the first day or two would likely involve lots of screaming and gnashing of teeth heh... but over the course of a week, you're FORCED to find other things to do.  

 

Heck, even just making chores part of a daily routine can help.  I only recently (last fall) instituted a chore list for my kids to do each day.  I set a 'chore time' of 15 minutes at a time where we each do our assigned tasks.  I hated the idea of it -- it's 'imposing my will' -- but THEY LOVE IT!  My 13yo, who never wanted to do anything chore-like when I'd just ask, loves doing it this way.  Does his tasks every single day with a smile on his face, and just that simple change made a spike in his positive attitude overall!   They do feel better when they feel productive, useful, etc.  

 

It's been hard for me, since I resist schedule and routine myself.  And I hate doing chores.  But it's for the good of my kids so I'm really trying to do better myself.  I've definitely noticed that MY attitude and approach to the day rubs off on my kids.

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#21 of 32 Old 01-25-2012, 09:14 PM
 
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So the pragmatic real fact is that he *needs* external guidance.  He needs it in order to build up (through habit and practice) his own internal framework so that later in life he *can* have independence.  Some kids just don't have internal structure to manage their own time.  

So for kids with any kind of issue with self-regulation, an externally imposed structure can be *freeing*.  It sounds contrary to unschooling principles, I know, but I believe that it's the better option for certain kinds of kids.  Within the context of this external structure, my son has a lot of freedom to choose his own activities, and I follow his lead on academic choices as well, so I still try to follow the *meaning* of unschooling, the heart of it, if not the letter of it.


ITA. Some of what I have been trying to say in my threads (not that I have a lot!) and I can't seem to get it out right. You are using your own instincts and life experience to facilitate your ds's learning in the way that best seems to fit his needs, even if those needs are not exactly what he desires.

OP, trust your instincts. Although we have generally unrestricted media, I reserve the right to intervene or limit if I feel it is becoming counter-productive. I also set expectations, as in sleeping generally has to occur at night and volume has to be kept at reasonable levels, as well as outside coursework takes priority over gaming (for those who are taking outside courses). It really has been OK since I learned to trust myself as well as my kids in this area.
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#22 of 32 Old 01-26-2012, 07:36 AM
 
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I had an awful professor college who liked to give us very very open-ended assignments we didn't have the background to succeed at and chuckle that he was "giving us enough rope to hang ourselves".  I remember that when I am trying to figure out how much freedom to give my kids-- is it a joyful happy kind of freedom, or is it a stress-inducing, overwhelming kind of freedom.

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#23 of 32 Old 01-26-2012, 07:50 AM
 
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When we unschooled DD1 didn't do well with too much freedom, DD2 loved it.  All kids are different.  Just go with what you feel is right. 
 

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I had an awful professor college who liked to give us very very open-ended assignments we didn't have the background to succeed at and chuckle that he was "giving us enough rope to hang ourselves".  I remember that when I am trying to figure out how much freedom to give my kids-- is it a joyful happy kind of freedom, or is it a stress-inducing, overwhelming kind of freedom.



 

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#24 of 32 Old 02-02-2012, 07:08 AM
 
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How do you enforce limits on screens without physical struggles or battes?


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#25 of 32 Old 02-02-2012, 07:52 AM
 
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Honestly we would unplug the TV and the router to the computer during certain hours and we led by example.

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#26 of 32 Old 02-02-2012, 05:37 PM
 
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No screens until 3pm, Monday through Friday unless it is directly related to school or they have mine or DH's permission.  Some of my kids do school online, but the lap top is in a public (kitchen or living room) area.  Honestly, my kids would rat each other out, plus the computer is password protected.


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#27 of 32 Old 02-04-2012, 12:21 PM
 
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This is a challenging subject to me, given my boyfriend is a video game addict.  It's hard to get my kids to limit their screen time when I used to spend much of my day working at the computer (research and writing as a freelance writer) and they see my boyfriend (the youngest's dad) playing video games for most of his free time.  It was that much harder having a video game addict for a father and a mom that wasn't far behind.  It means I have a hard time regulating myself too.  I understand how hard it is, even if there is something else I really want to do.

 

Think of it this way, when I was a kid there were points when I'd say to myself, "I really want to finish that really good book...but I'm so close to figuring out the water temple in Ocarina of Time!  I'll just do that, then I'll read."  Of course, it takes me twice as long as expected to get through the temple, and then there's this plot stuff.  Next thing I know I'm on to the next story line, not because there aren't other things to do, but I'm having fun!  It's like living an adventure.

 

Sometimes it's not about the lack of something else that's fun to do, but the fact that video games are dynamic and engaging.  Get the right kind of game and it's like living a story.  Different people play for different reasons, but even now I can admit that it's sometimes hard to put it down when I've just got to figure out how to get by this one thing so I can get to the next part of the story line.  It's one of the most interactive things a person can do alone.

 

So, what got me to kick my gaming habit as a kid (and to at least work on limiting myself as an adult)?  The first was a game called Hero Quest.  It's a board game that's kind of an intro to Dungeons and Dragons style role playing games.  That got me into actual gaming with actual people.  I've got to admit, to this day I still enjoy the social interaction of tabletop role playing games and LARPs (live action role play).  It brought the interaction of gaming into a social light.  I've noticed that kids start developing the skills required to game naturally around age 8, so this would be a good time for him.

 

Robotics was another big break from gaming for me.  It was interactive, creative, and still involved some screen time of a different kind of programming it.  Lego Mindstorm, though a bit pricey, is great for this, but there are a number of different products that work well.  What I like most about Mindstorm is the number of books and resources available, so you can suggest something for your child to build, then have them show it off to the whole family when they're done.  Younger brothers and sisters are usually impressed by the cool things their older sibling can do.

 

What about just taking some screen-free social time at the end of the day where everyone talks about or shows off something cool that they did that day?  Your son might feel more inspired to explore new things or just do something different so he'll have something new to show off to everyone at the end of the day.  There's nothing wrong with talking about video games, but maybe if he hears all the interesting stuff everyone else is talking about, maybe that will inspire him.  Talking with family is actually the reason I picked up knitting for the first time (but I gave up because I just couldn't seem to get it).

 

Maybe some of the other replies are right and your son would do well to just have some one-on-one time with you or dad.  Perhaps coming up with something you can do together will get him to put down the game for a while.  I know he's an adult, but this always works with my boyfriend!  My eight-year-old daughter is much the same way with television and her DS (before she lost it).  However, if I suggest my boyfriend and I watch a movie together or play a card game, he's off the game in a flash.  With my daughter it's as simple as poking my head in and announcing, "I'm about to make dinner.  Anyone want to help?"  In a flash she's off the game and learning about cooking.  My daughter and my boyfriend both get out of the house to work on his car, whether it's cleaning it or actually doing repairs and maintenance.  The car is their "project car" and my daughter is going to inherit it some day...of course, by then it's going to be a classic!  Everyone gets off the games when I suggest we should play a board game or a card game.  Typically offers of one-on-one time or a family activity pull everyone off of their electronic devices and gets them into something else.

 

I think the best thing you can possibly do to help your son find other interests is for you or some other adult in his life to explore them with him.  From what you said, though, I wouldn't be too worried.  If he's got activities outside the home, he's got a chance to foster other interests there.  They may not be activities he's actively pursuing at home, but he is getting exposure to other activities and has a chance to develop other hobbies.  Personally, I wouldn't be to worried if he's kind of sucked in with the games at home.

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#28 of 32 Old 02-04-2012, 09:32 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Pookietooth View Post

How do you enforce limits on screens without physical struggles or battes?


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Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

Honestly we would unplug the TV and the router to the computer during certain hours and we led by example.


I started when my girls were younger and they had no habits regarding screen time.  Even my dh is an addict, so first I made a rules about no TV for us before they are in bed.  We weren't watching much TV to begin with, but dh would turn it on for the news and zone out for the evening, completely unavailable to anyone.  Not cool!  I hate having the TV on in the background and I won't let myself turn the computer on during the day.  Like Imakcerka, turned off all the way back to the router and everything.  For me, it is because I personally find the TV and computer insanely distracting, noisy and addictive.  I like quiet (radio silence), or active listening, not background music and electronic noise.  That is why even though I am an unschooler, screen time is not part of the package yet, and not because of any overriding philosophy.  The girls get their screen time first thing in the day, unless we have sick days and then it's as much as we need.  We have no video games, I think that would be harder being so open-ended.  We have no satellite or cable.  With videos there is no time wasted by commercials, and a definitive end.  Even the girls are more than ready to have it turned off so they can get to their playtime.

 

Having rules for everyone, not just the kids, is extremely important if you go this route.  And setting a good example is important for any approach.  I find it hard to believe that kids could easily self-regulate if one or both parents play for hours on end.

 


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#29 of 32 Old 02-06-2012, 07:11 PM
 
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It's funny how you can go back and re-read a thread and get something out of it that you didn't before. 

 

I think what really struck me is how unavailable you are for him a lot of the time. You're caring for other children and so this limits how often you can take him out places, and he doesn't get much one-on-one time with you. I'm not saying this to make you feel bad, but to point out that it seems pretty likely to me that his issue isn't video games so much as motivation and dealing with filling empty time.

 

My kids have always been really good at playing independently and finding something to do when I'm busy. But I know not all kids are like this. And there are times when they need me to get them motivated, either by taking them out or by having some sit-down time with them (we call it "project time" and they are free to choose anything to work on and they get my undivided attention for one hour). 

 

Basically it sounds like your son is left to find his own things to do most of the time and I think that can be really hard for some kids. Maybe playing video games is just the easiest choice. If you had more time with him (or if someone else could fill in, a mentor, etc) you could take him out places, enroll him in classes, do some sit-down work with him (of his choosing) and help him learn to "fill" those hours. Some people suggest this is a skill that can be learned and that makes sense to me. 

 

I hope I'm not sounding harsh here, I'm not trying to put blame on you, just re-framing the situation. My guess is that your son could use some classes or a mentor or someone to help him find ways to fill his time with interesting stuff. Then eventually he might get better at it on his own. 


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#30 of 32 Old 02-07-2012, 02:19 PM
 
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I've been discovering that with my own son (soon to be 9). He is starting to get really hooked on his screen-time (mostly watching YouTube videos about Minecraft, a video game) and it sort of dawned on me that there is not enough around here to keep his interest, and when he's bored, he defaults to the screen. (much as I might wish he defaulted to reading a book)  So I determined that I am going to get him OUT of the house more often and, now that he is getting older, keep upping the complexity of the kits & stuff I buy for him, so he's always got something new and interesting to do.

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