Frustration at Child's Obsession with PC Games
by Beverley Paine, Nov 2013This comes up as a question in unschooling support groups ALL the time. It's a HUGE issue. Different groups deal with it differently - some feel strongly that it is crucially important to let the child do what he or she wants because it is his or her choice. Some advocate for moderation and constraint (restraint?) because there is more at work with this kind of activity due to the inbuilt motivation of the people peddling these games and the way these games are constructed to suit that purpose. It's an emotive topic too. Society and experts are divided on this issue. It's hard for us mere parents to feel confident.
My advice... log the number of minutes and hours the child spends on the computer or device. If you can spare the time (and I believe it is important to create space in your life to do this because of your confusion over this issue) it would be helpful to log the actual activity/game too. This could be fairly easy if you can encourage your child to do the recording. Tell him it is for your peace of mind, it's a science experiment of sorts, a research project that will settle your confusion about the issue forever. (Turn it into a project for your end of year review recording!)
What is the point of logging the activity?
Memory isn't as good as we think it is. We build perceptions based on dodgy memory. We're always saying things like 'always' or 'never' - we generalise and exaggerate to justify our positions and to emphasise our point of views. What looks like something happening ALL the time really only happens SOME of the time. Logging activities or actions gives us the facts. And it is from these facts that we can draw conclusions and feel confident about making decisions.
From your log you will see exactly how much time is spent doing this activity, as well as how much time is spent playing games that you value as being educational, and those that you value as being entertainment. And those that you don't value at all.
Using the log, you could, with your son, talk about which aspects of the state/national curriculum any or all of the games or computer activity meet - that could be part of the research or project. You could do this without the log record but it wouldn't be as powerful an exercise.
Unschoolers seem to dislike keeping any kind of records but it is actually a fantastic tool to test and advance ideas - a necessary part of the scientific method. It is a useful way to aid our mental processes. When we write things down we remember them accurately. We don't make those sweeping generalisations or assumptions that muddy our thinking when trying to make decisions. We work from the raw data on the page and draw conclusions that are rational rather than emotive.
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We began educating our three children in 1985, when our eldest was aged five years. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn as they grew and explored and discovered this amazing world since the moment they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. I hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was!
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