Video games and online chats


#1

We are a homeschooling family of 5 children. I (dad) work from home and mom is a full time mom, but she has some health issues that prevent her from being as involved in the family as she would like to be.

The problem is that we have let our children go online with supervision as a reward for good behavior, or completing school. My eldest daughter (13) does a lot of role play chats with her friends. We keep a somewhat close eye on this. For example I am an chat participant most of the time. Her role playing is related to Danny Phantom and Dragon Ball Zee.

The other problem is my 12 yo son who plays as part of a team on a game called Combat Arms. In this game he participates as part of a team which attacks other teams - they fire weapons, use knives, etc. He is very involved in this game and recently when he was banned he wept as he felt he was letting his team down. It seems that all of his friends are allowed to play these games (or worse) - which is no reason for us to let him - but he simply can’t understand why we don’t let him.

The problem is that the eldest two are consumed with these games and spend large amounts of time on them if we do not kick them off the games. They can only play on the weekends - which are Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. We will discipline them by banning them from the computer for weeks at a time.

I believe that we should restrict their computer access altogether as it is a gateway to more dangerous stuff, but in the 1/2 or so where they have been online, they don’t have any substitutes.

We also allow them to play the Wii - the most edgy game they play there is a Dragon Ball Zee game and a flight simulator game.

My question to you is - how do you are parents handle your children’s computer time. What do you do as a family activity? We have played family games from time to time, watch videos, occasionally have an outing. Our sons are involved in cubs and scouts.

Our big family thing we do together is school and church - which the eldest two are ambivalent about.


#2

Do you use the computer as a tool in homeschooling - for research, papers, etc?

Or is it ONLY used for playing?

If you are not teaching them how to use it for research, you are really doing a disservice, as once they get to high school and definitely college, EVERYTHING is done online. It is critical they know how to safely maneuver around the internet. By simply banning them, they are learning nothing.

Stifling a child will only make them yearn for ways to slip out of under your thumb, and you can be sure they will rebel in one form or another.


#3

They only use if for playing.

As they are in grade 6 and 7, there is no reason for them to use it currently for research.

They do know how to google, so they know the basics of how to do research.

At this time I am more concerned with them learning to think critically - they will be able to teach themselves how to conduct research on the internet.

While what you are saying about stiflingly them is true, the real issue is that their ONLY interest is playing on the computer. We would like to find substitutes for this. My sons ONLY interest is this game. My daughter does a lot of artwork, but she will chat online for most of the day if we do not stop here.

I want to nip their internet use as much as possible as there is a real danger from porn (for my son) and inappropriate online friendships for my daughter.


#4

Is your issue the amount of time they are playing, or is it what they are playing?

Let your son play the combat arms games. Call of Duty and other soldier simulators are good at teaching young people the dynamics of military tactics. They encourage enlistment in the military and make weapons training easier. Unless you’re saying that you don’t want your son to join the military, I’d let him play that game.

Violence that is not glorified has a context, and contrary to popular opinion, not all war is evil. History based games can teach kids things that they are likely not learning in public school.


#5

[quote="hilarycotter, post:3, topic:225287"]

As they are in grade 6 and 7, there is no reason for them to use it currently for research.

[/quote]

!!:eek:!! Wow. Really? My 5th graders use the Internet for research......


#6

I don't have any advice to offer since my only child isn't even born yet, but I want to say that it is wonderful that you are trying to limit your children's video game time (particularly the online multiplayer ones that can be so addicting.) I desperately wish my parents had put limits on my brother's video gaming when they got him his first console in middle school. He's been spending upwards of 60 hours a week video gaming for several years now. He flunked out of his first year of college because he spent all his time gaming instead of studying, and is now back at home planning to spend the next 3 years getting a 2 year degree at a local community college. Please don't let gaming consume your kids' lives and let them go down that path! If you think the video games have become a problem for your children and your family, they probably are. I look forward to hearing other responses because I am terrified of having a child as obsessed with video games as my brother and I want to do absolutely everything I can to prevent it.


#7

#8

Have you tried sports related board games, like APBA and Strato-Matic baseball? These are terrific for learning organizing skills, record keeping, etc. They are not free, but there are a ton of free sports games at places like tabletop - sports dot com. All you do is print them out and play. Some need dice.

Anyway, just offing an alternative. Hope I don’t get banned for putting in a “link” to that web site.


#9

I don’t think the issue is the computer so much as your 2 oldest kids are now teenagers and rebellion will happen in some form or other.

Do they play any organized sports? That would be a positive outlet to be with kids their own age.

With all due respect, absense makes the heart grow fonder and if everyone is in the house all day, I don’t think that is always best. Growing up, weekends were special for me because daddy was home. Coming home from school was fun because mommy was waiting to hear about my day.

If you still feel homschooling is the best option for your family, I would strongly recommend having your kids spend time in extra curicular activites where they can get away from the family and with peers

CM


#10

Thanks for all of your responses. I am going to reply to each in turn.

Catholic90 - I am baffled and intrigued by your statement that you let your children in grade 5 research something on the internet.

I have 6 more years with my children before they come to the legal age where they can leave home. Right now they are reading books and writing book reports, learning math, reading history, spelling etc.

IMHO, at the end of 6 years, or if they pass their GED and score well on their SATs they will be going to college earlier.

They will have the ability to read text books, and fiction and understand the authors point, and do original research.

I do not see the difference between letting them do this on the internet doing this from the text books that we supply them with.

In your opinion what are they missing by not doing research on the internet?

My fear is addiction issues on their parts, and basically unsupervised computer time. The internet has a very dark side - ie pornography which it is dangerous for young boys to encounter.


#11

Thanks ahollars.

The issue is the amount of time and their apparent addiction to it.

Once when we banned my son for his attitude (talking back to us) from playing the game for a week. He started to cry. I assume he was upset that he had disappointed his online team.

I spent 6 years in the military. I have no problem with them playing this military games, although the level of violence sometimes makes me squeamish. Combat Arms is pretty tame, but others are pretty frightening.

I find it hard to believe that the point and click games like this will make better soldiers. I did google around a bit and saw some confirmation of your point.

Right now, IMHO, this is all he wants to do, and I need to raise good Catholics, who can be good parents. I don’t think this game is helping with that.


#12

Thanks Charlotte1776.

This is my fear as well:)


#13

Catholic90 & ahollars, just out of curiosity, in my 6 years in the infantry I learned things like staying a safe distance from the rest of my platoon, so if a grenade was thrown at us, only one of us would be hit by the fragmentation. I learned how to count bullets so that I would know when my mag was getting empty, so I should reload and not have to face the agonizing empty click when I really needed to squeeze of a round. I learned how to always watch my platoon leader to see his signals. I learned how to call for covering fire when I needed it from my platoon, or when I spotted a sniper.

In these online games I see none of this.

I learned flanking maneuvers, survival techniques, how to strip a weapon in 20 seconds in the dark and reassemble it.

See, its kind of hard for me to really believe this - although I have found some links which also make this claim and I am similarly skeptical. Can you help me out here?

Now granted it has been some time (20 years) since I was in the infantry, but I do not believe combat has changed that much.

Another point is that while these games might turn out excellent soldiers - suppose he has other talents which will serve him better in life? Shouldn’t we encourage them.


#14

thanks LVF - I will follow up on this!


#15

Thanks cmscms. Thanks also for bringing home the rebellion angle. I can see I need to re-evaluate how we approach them in this light.

My sons are involved in scouts. I am thinking of getting him involved in army/air/sea cadets. I was in the National Guard in my late teens. At this point I think he still might be too young for it - but possibly in his later teens.

I am also looking around for some sport they can do - I was thinking Judo or Karate.

Now, getting back to homeschooling - I see you have a variation of the socialization argument here. Let me just say that there is nothing as rewarding as the one on one interaction you have with your child in the schooling process. Not only rewarding for your child, but rewarding for him. Spending time with your child going over fractions/division or grammar, is a wonderful parenting experience. They get great pleasure and a sense of accomplishment over learning, especially when they are struggling with something and I explain to them how to do it.

That been said - we constantly re-evaluate whether they should be going to public education or not.


#16

Are you using the Robinson curriculum for your schooling? From what you say, the reading, writing book reports, and math, I just wonder. That is the backbone of the Robinson method, just those 3 subjects up until calculus in high school, but if so, he encourages NO TV in the home whatsoever. This is difficult to accomplish unless you have a lot of courage and also have some degree of social isolation. Robinson also had no sugar in his household at all.

Television, videos and especially video games are like cotton-candy entertainment. Of course they will always attract kids. They are a heck of a lot more fun than reading a difficult book! I am old enough that there were no such things when I was growing up and books were my entertainment, for the most part. We were too poor to afford going to the movies a lot.

Anyway, I don’t know how to balance the current technology and entertainment with a desire to foster true learning through books. I was prepared to homeschool our 2nd son and limit TV and then I found that my husband did not support me in the effort after all. After that we ended up getting an X-box which was supposed to be something he played with along with our sons, but that ended up in more video time for them and he rarely played along with them.

I just don’t know how to raise kids in a sheltered environment unless you are in an Amish community - other than balancing out the time they spend on video games with other activities. And, the idea of using video time as a reward bothers me, because it’s like the dessert given for eating the broccoli of learning. It should be other way around somehow, but not easy to do these days. Perhaps you could work on making time with YOU doing some fun activity more the reward, and just give them a little video time as a part of their week?

As long as it’s kept within reason, I think it’s no different from other entertainment. You want them to be able to stop and walk away and have it not consume their every waking hour. Man, it’s just so hard to raise kids these days.


#17

Thanks TheRealJulianne. I have never heard of the Robinson method/curriculum. We use a mixed bag of stuff. Some very Catholic, some not so much. For math we use math u see. For history the Catholic Text Book Project (we supplement with Landmark Press books), for science Real Science for Kids, for spelling and grammar we used to use Catholic Heritage books, but are moving to Zaner Bloser. For Religion its Baltimore Catechism, but what Ignatius Press offers looks interesting.

Agreed on TV/Video games is cotton candy entertainment, but it is easy for us to do, as opposed to more structured activities.

Your point here "And, the idea of using video time as a reward bothers me, because it's like the dessert given for eating the broccoli of learning. It should be other way around somehow, but not easy to do these days." Spot on! This raises an interesting question - it is like my son rushes through his school work so he can do his games. How do we make him interested in his studies? We are unhappy about the current state of affairs and we are his parents and we are the ones God has given the responsibility to raise - not the folks who make Combat Arms and Tour of Duty.

I did speak with him this morning and let him know why we are reacting the way we are, and asked him to let us know if there is anything he wants to do (other than video games). I'll keep the conversation going.

Thanks all for your insights!


#18

[quote="hilarycotter, post:15, topic:225287"]

Now, getting back to homeschooling - I see you have a variation of the socialization argument here. Let me just say that there is nothing as rewarding as the one on one interaction you have with your child in the schooling process. Not only rewarding for your child, but rewarding for him. Spending time with your child going over fractions/division or grammar, is a wonderful parenting experience. They get great pleasure and a sense of accomplishment over learning, especially when they are struggling with something and I explain to them how to do it.

That been said - we constantly re-evaluate whether they should be going to public education or not.

[/quote]

I hear what you are getting at. Not having any kids, I can not argue either way. That is why I said 'if you feel it is the best option' Obvioulsy you do and I think it is great you know what is best for your situation and you are doing it. I am simply pointing that you will have more challenge in helping them be with kids their own age that go to an established school. All those activities you listed seem great. However, I just want to point out, it may be wise to let your child have some say in which activity he wants to let him feel he has some control. Also, with all due respect, it seems you are thinking of activities for you boys and not your daughters. Girls need activities to

CM


#19

[quote="hilarycotter, post:17, topic:225287"]
Thanks TheRealJulianne. I have never heard of the Robinson method/curriculum. We use a mixed bag of stuff. Some very Catholic, some not so much. For math we use math u see. For history the Catholic Text Book Project (we supplement with Landmark Press books), for science Real Science for Kids, for spelling and grammar we used to use Catholic Heritage books, but are moving to Zaner Bloser. For Religion its Baltimore Catechism, but what Ignatius Press offers looks interesting.

Agreed on TV/Video games is cotton candy entertainment, but it is easy for us to do, as opposed to more structured activities.

Your point here "And, the idea of using video time as a reward bothers me, because it's like the dessert given for eating the broccoli of learning. It should be other way around somehow, but not easy to do these days." Spot on! This raises an interesting question - it is like my son rushes through his school work so he can do his games. How do we make him interested in his studies? We are unhappy about the current state of affairs and we are his parents and we are the ones God has given the responsibility to raise - not the folks who make Combat Arms and Tour of Duty.

I did speak with him this morning and let him know why we are reacting the way we are, and asked him to let us know if there is anything he wants to do (other than video games). I'll keep the conversation going.

Thanks all for your insights!

[/quote]

Well Art Robinson is not Catholic, he's a scientist and so was his wife. She was home schooling all 6 of their kids and then suddenly died, and he was left with his own scientific research, a farm/house to run, and the kids to educate. As a practical, results-oriented male, he devised a way for them to learn independently, relying on old literature, a great set of math textbooks (Saxon math) and a lot of writing. The "reading, writing, arithmetic" plan that used to work for most Americans...The literature can be difficult since it was written before most people got dumbed-down...And as for "science" he correctly says that anything called "science" before the student learns calculus is just picture books, they are not doing science in any way. Anyway you can read more at robinsoncurriculum.com

Your son rushing through his schoolwork is why Art Robinson banished the TV completely. No TV, no computer games, and no sugar. His kids each had a desk for themselves and they sat and did their work for 5-6 hours a day, 365 days a year. I guess he must have allowed them a lunch break, LOL. I don't know how many people are able to completely implement his restrictions, but if one could, it would help tremendously. My son complained the entire 3 weeks I had him at home but he was making progress and we were working through the issues, but then hubby kept nagging me about socialization and language and sports, issues I thought we'd settled months before.

:shrug:


#20

Thanks TheRealJulianne, this looks interesting.

I like many aspects of what he does. Last time I read Hentry's books I did not like them. I might take another look.

Hilary


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