With school starting this week, the internet is awash with back to school articles. One article I saw was talking about the problem of too much time with gadgets vs schoolwork and physical activity. Granted, the fall and winter months, getting the kids outside gets tougher, but right now I am pretty happy with the balance of on screen and off screen time that the kids have done over the summer. But Adam approached me with a request about the Xbox and I really don’t think I can help him out.
When Patrick was in hospital for a week last year, I was finding it hard to deal with the kids and their “noise.” Noise as in their TV shows and their video games. The games were driving me crazy, so I offered to install the Xbox upstairs in Adam’s room. This worked out great for all. The kids were happy and I had the living room to myself. The Xbox stayed in the room after their dad returned home, but was ultimately banished when we found Adam could not handle dealing with anything else like REAL LIFE, chores, parental respect and knowing his boundaries and limits. The Xbox eventually ended up back downstairs and is still there today. While it drives me nuts, I have enjoyed having more control over the online discussions (fights) and when the kids are playing. I do however miss watching TV.
The summer blockbuster in our ‘hood for video games has been Minecraft. Not only have the kids been creating detailed worlds online together, but they took their ideas into the real world and were playing ‘Minecraft Live’ outside too. Much discussing, planning and arguing have gone into their Minecraft worlds. This beats the usual violent war related games in my book. However they have apparently found the technology in our home lacking. Our television is considered old by modern standards and we have been told that in order to play the two person version of Minecraft a new fangled HDMI cable is required – a cable that our TV is not made for.
The TV upstairs IS designed for this cable. This has started the campaign to move the Xbox back upstairs afresh. My son has recruited his little sister to help him with the promise that it is all so both he and his sibling can play together. This I highly doubt, but my son is shocked by my skepticism. We have now had a weekend of teary debates about issue. It is a no-win situation. I could be wrong, but I think most parents would agree with me that the beginning of the school year is not the best time to be allowing video games in a child’s room.
My goal for this school year is to get Adam and Caity into the habit of getting homework done before play. But I can’t imagine this being an easy rule to enforce. It wasn’t previously, and our after school time was filled with arguments and or tears when he or she would realize that they had left their assignments to the last minute. My parenting tends to lean towards the type that lets the kids make their own mistake. I am more than happy to lay the groundwork for success but also believe that kids need to learn to take responsibility for their tasks and chores.
My son has not found this easy, and I freely admit to failure when it comes to showing him responsibility. For him, instant gratification precedes all logical thought, and nothing will change his mind. No patient explanations will suffice and all he hears is no. We have said that we need to see that he can be responsible with homework and cleaning up after himself first before entertaining this new freedom. Right now we are evil and strangling his ability to have fun.
What do you think? How do you manage screen time and video games during the school year?