He would, and has, spent days on end on a computer. He plays Minecraft, ToonTown, Wizard 101. He would love to play others, but we've yet to OK the more violent games. He is just ten, after all.
If he isn't on a computer, he swipes my iPad and plays Clash of Clans or some other game that always seems to need attention in some kingdom far, far away...or there's always the archaic, but old standby, Nintendo DS. And if it isn't handheld or laptop, it's some amusement on the Wii or Xbox. It is constant, for sure.
We have tried many means of curbing his screen time. Schedules and time allotments have to be monitored and complete bans are accompanied by incessant begging. I hate playing prison guard, so we have struggled with this for a few years.
So, how does one help a gamer schedule his lessons around his play?
Additionally, how does a parent encourage a gamer to get out and see the world instead of focusing only on Skype buddies and imaginary worlds?
For starters, we try to remember...
1) there are learning opportunities involved in gaming
And 2) there are lucrative jobs available in gaming and computer technology
But we also, in my opinion, have an obligation to teach a gamer to
write well (even if the ultimate goal is technical writing),
speak well (pitches for new ideas),
problem solve (duh!),
and do a little math ( 0s and 1s are very important).
Ideally, I would like to expose him to the outside world if for no other reason than to gather ideas for his imaginary ones.
This year, he and I have negotiated a suitable schedule for both our desires. If we can keep it going, I think we will both feel satisfied with how Reeves spends his time.
Reeves - Gr 6
AM - Reeves gets up, unloads the dishwasher, eats breakfast, and helps me walk the dogs. Then he has a little playing time until I wake up his brother and sister for breakfast.
Mid AM - we begin lessons by 10am and he only gets on a screen for specifically related reasons until all of the day's work is complete.
Lunch- lately, he has been taking his basketball to the neighbor's court to shoot during lunch. I am THRILLED that he is out moving around happily. I usually let him stay as long as he wants.
PM- he usually finishes up by 2 or 2:30. This year, he really seems willing to think about what he is studying, instead of just trying to rush through to check off a box. Perhaps my relaxation has sparked a little in him, too.
Late PM - screen time until dinner
After Dinner- screen time, unless there is a family activity planned (skating, walking, other). Actually, as I write this at 8pm, he is again shooting baskets. :)
10pm off screen and he and Todd read aloud before he calls it a night. He is always the first member of the family to sleep. No fights there.
This week, on Wednesday, he will have completed a project that will allow him to buy a new video game. Today, he decided that he would complete three days of lessons on Monday and Tuesday, so that he could spend Wednesday on the new game.
Why not? Right? Obligations complete. Isn't that a great life lesson for later?
As with all parenting decisions...time will tell.