the network for radical unschooling families
I would like radical opinions on video addiction. I am a recovering alcoholic and what my son is doing by having unlimited online game time has all the characturistics of addiction. He has been playing unlimited for 2 weeks. We have been unschooling for 8 months, homeschooling for 2 yrs he's been playing long hrs up til now. Its such a problem to try and get him off to create time for him to do his responsibilites to our family , so I took the advice from a radical unschooler parent and try unlimited time on the computer. The the theory was to see if it would burn himself out and he would regulate himself. Did'nt work and I'm having great trouble continuing being the condition his health is in. The unlimited time has been filled with many emotions. Freedom for all has been nice!! But then watching him not eat he only wants yogart fruit and granola bars.Pretty heathy I know but not enough for him, he has a big appetite. He is not getting enough to eat and sleep he looks like death losing weight his eyes dark circles. How can this be ok at all. The thing that scares me is I truly believe in addiction and know that it is a very real thing when your in it you cannot see it until you hit rock bottem its a very cunning baffling disease!!!
I love my son and we are doing unschooling because I want him to evolve organically with his choices and desires being fufilled by him and I am proud to take part in that journey. I have read some on the concerns of other parents and their children spending to much time on video games and yes I agree there is value in most everything and I have seen first hand this last two weeks my son creating things on the computer that are truly amazing!! He feels he did not have time to create before!! Yes this is incrediable and I expressed my enthusiasm to him. I'm just wondering if he can do this without putting himself in the hospital!! I dont care if its video games books piano excercise or whatever activity what he is doing isn't healthy! The definition of addiction is when something that your doing makes your life unmanagble. And computer time has definately made his life unmanagable! All I want is some balance for him!! I don't want to take away his passion!!! He has seen and agrees he isnt being balanced and has agreed to look at another way to bring more balance.What I'm going to suggest is to sleep from midnight til 9am play for an hour then do his responsibilties then he can play til midnight!! I'm am greatful that we have great communication and we will discuss this at lenghth. I'm just looking for other people who have been through this and what they did to bring more balance to it!! Thank you in advance for yout support and time in this!! This (and I believe in my heart I'm doing the right thing for him by unschooling him) is so callenging!! I have seen beautiful wonderous things take place in him because of the allowing that happens in giving your kids freedom!
Draven (my 11y/o son) is an avid gamer. I support his passion in every way possible.
Part of this is providing for his daily needs. I bring him food throughout the day, I keep easy-to-make things available for him at night (when we're asleep and he's not). When I bring him food I cut it up so it's finger food or easily eaten with a fork. Throughout the day I'll pop in and remove dishes for him, or ask him to bring them to the kitchen when he gets a second.
I let him sleep when he's ready to sleep and for as long as he'd like to sleep. If I'm not fighting him about getting enough sleep, he will tend to sleep for 10+ hours. When I try to enforce a bedtime he will fight it and gets less and less sleep. With him, his most active online friends are around overnight, and almost no one is online early in the morning. He'll go to sleep when the sun is coming up and get up later in the afternoon. If we have something going on during the day he'll adjust his sleep schedule accordingly (if it's something he's interested in).
We stopped requiring chores (that's what I'm assuming you mean by responsibilities). Instead we all pitch in when needed. At first this meant my partner and I were doing everything, but now (after 2 years) Draven does pitch in happily when he's taking small breaks from his game. We ask him for help and he always has the option to say no, or in a little while. When dishes are overwhelming me I make sure we have paper plates in the house, when taking care of the cats became a full time job I found ways to reduce the amount of time each part took. I took responsibility for my own needs, if I felt a room was too messy it was my problem, not my sons, not my partners, so I cleaned it.
I also give him plenty of warning if I do need his help with something. If I'm going grocery shopping I'll let him know that his help would be appreciated when I got back. I call him when I'm leaving the store to give him warning, and again when I'm right down the road. He meets me out front, hurries to get the groceries in, then goes back to playing while I'm putting things away.
There are times that I get hyper-focused on something and it's wonderful when my partner helps me take care of my daily needs (bringing me food, doing more around the house, etc.) and I find joy in supporting Draven's passions in the same way.
-=-I'm just wondering if he can do this without putting himself in the hospital!! I dont care if its video games books piano excercise or whatever activity what he is doing isn't healthy! The definition of addiction is when something that your doing makes your life unmanagble. And computer time has definately made his life unmanagable! All I want is some balance for him!!=-
This will probably not make sense to you, as you're just beginning to unschool, but I'll write it out anyway.
You want to manage his life. Your definition of "unmanageable" is that YOU are not able to manage his life.
And "All I want is some balance for him!!" means you want to define and enforce your vision of "balance."
You're not alone. Most mothers want to control their kids and "maintain balance" for their child, but no one can create balance in another person.
-=-He has seen and agrees he isnt being balanced and has agreed to look at another way to bring more balance.What I'm going to suggest is to sleep from midnight til 9am play for an hour then do his responsibilties then he can play til midnight!!-=-
Most children will "agree" with what the mom presses them to agree with (at least while they're young, if the mom hasn't overdone that). He has "seen" what you're telling him to see, I'm guessing, and agreed with you probably out of fear that if he doesn't, you'll take the games away altogether.
-=--=-Its such a problem to try and get him off to create time for him to do his responsibilites to our family , so I took the advice from a radical unschooler parent and try unlimited time on the computer. The the theory was to see if it would burn himself out and he would regulate himself.-=-
You can't "create time."
"Time for him to do his responsibilities to our family" is a loaded phrase you're using as though others will understand, accept and support it.
-=-I took the advice from a radical unschooler parent and try unlimited time on the computer. The the theory was to see if it would burn himself out and he would regulate himself.-=-
The other parent's "theory"? Or your hope?
"Regulate himself" means make a rule and then follow it.
"Burn himself out" is just sad. You shouldn't wish that on anyone you love.
Here are some things you might want to read, written by many parents who've been through the phase you're going through as an unschooling parent.
-=-I'm just wondering if he can do this without putting himself in the hospital!!-=-
I hope you haven't suggested to him that he might end up in the hospital. It's quite a dramatic exaggeration. Here are some more of those:
I can't include yours because you didn't actually write "If I let him play all the video games he wants, he might end up in the hospital."
And IF (if your curse/wish were to come true) he were to "require hospitalization," he would not be "putting himself in the hospital." You would be putting him in. I'm picking your words apart because your post was filled with loaded, telling phrases that show what you are clinging to. I thought you might want to see it dissected a bit. If not, try not to get too cranky about it. Others who come by and read might see something in a new light.
*** I am a recovering alcoholic and what my son is doing by having unlimited online game time has all the characturistics of addiction. ***
Not all the characteristics. Passion on the surface very much does resemble the outward behavior of addiction. What's going on inside is different though.
Have you read TV and Other Addictions? It might help you gain some perspective.
*** He has been playing unlimited for 2 weeks. ***
Have you played with him? Do you have your own character to experience the game yourself? Have you sat with him to find out more about the game and what he loves about it? Have you read about it so you're knowledgeable enough to understand what he's talking about and can cheer his successes?
*** Its such a problem to try and get him off to create time for him to do his responsibilites to our family ***
Would you want to stop reading or doing something else hugely meaningful to you when someone else decided it was time for you to scrub the toilet?
Stop and think about the word responsibilities. Try to think of a responsibility *you* have that you didn't choose to take on, that you can't set the standards for, that you can't choose to drop. At first you may think of many. But if you look at them objectively, you *do* have choices. There are jobs that come with specific tasks but you chose the job and you can choose to give up the job (or choose to negotiate to be relieved of certain responsibilities.) There are choices you may not want to take. You may not like the consequences of emptying the bank account and taking off for Hawaii to relieve yourself of family responsibilities, or never washing clothes again, or not checking on an aging relative. But you *could* choose those. There's no one but you saying "No, don't do that." Every time you don't choose one of the options that bother you, you *are* making a choice.
But the "responsibilities" placed on kids, they don't get a choice in what standards to set or whether or not to keep doing them. I would bet few parents who have assigned the task of mowing the lawn to a child would be okay if the child decided to allow the lawn to become a meadow.
Those aren't responsibilities. That's conscripted labor. Parents *call* them responsibilities, treat them as though the conscripted labor were the same as the responsibilities they've chosen to take on as adults. And then wonder why kids react as if they were being made to do conscripted labor ;-) And see the kids as irresponsible for shirking their "responsibilities". But it's the parents who are confused and the kids who are seeing and reacting to the truth.
Parents prettify it by letting kids choose from a short list -- but don't let them not choose. They impress on kids that it's a family and everyone has responsibilities to the family. But the kids never got to choose as one does with responsibilities. You chose to bring the kids into the family. You chose the lifestyle and the standards the family would maintain.
It will help you think more clearly if you see the truth your child is seeing, the truth he's reacting in understandable ways to. He's being told to stop doing something hugely engaging to do a task that's been assigned to him against his wishes. If you see it from that point of view, do his actions make more sense?
(If you'd like him to help when he can, *be* helpful to him, to you, to others in the family. Live that value because it's important to you not because you want to model it for him. Also, draw him into the process of helping alongside you as you do things. Retain ownership of the tasks and ask him -- as you would a friend, as you would some innocent bystander when you need a hand, knowing that they have better things to do and you're asking them to give up valuable time for you. Allow the answer to be no. Trust that he wants to be helpful but that he's busy with important things (even if you can't see the importance, it's respectful to trust his judgement that they're important to him. Especially if you'd ever appreciate hearing "Okay" to you saying "This is important to me," when you know he can't grasp why it's important.) (Though if he's been made to do tasks, he may not want to be helpful. He may need time to recover from being forced in order to be able to *choose* to be helpful.))
*** so I took the advice from a radical unschooler parent and try unlimited time on the computer. The the theory was to see if it would burn himself out and he would regulate himself. Did'nt work and I'm having great trouble continuing being the condition his health is in. ****
"Unlimited time" is short hand for a bigger idea contained in a larger context. But "unlimited time" gets passed on without the meaning and the meaning that gets assigned is unlikely to be the original bigger concept.
Supporting him exploring his interests is the larger context. Part of supporting kids' explorations can be not imposing *artificial* limits on how much time they spend on something.
If someone told you it was to get him to burn out on his interest, they mislead you. It's to allow him the opportunity to fill up on what fascinates him. Where gaming differs from addiction is that the need doesn't increase. (Assuming the child is unschooling and isn't using gaming as an escape from on going real life stress they don't have control over.) Yes, I know it looks like it's increased right now! But what you're seeing is that with the online game he's been given a fascinating 5,000 piece jigsaw puzzle when before he just had 1000 piece puzzles. In fact, as he plays and discovers more and more what there is to explore and do there, he may realize it's 10,000 pieces ... no, wait, 20,000 pieces! But even gaming worlds have a limit. Eventually as his skills and experience increase what were challenges will become more routine. And the time he needs to play *will* decrease. He will fill himself up on the available challenges.
*** But then watching him not eat he only wants yogart fruit and granola bars.Pretty heathy I know but not enough for him, he has a big appetite. He is not getting enough to eat and sleep he looks like death losing weight his eyes dark circles. How can this be ok at all. ***
Are you bringing him food? Are you making monkey platters with lots of easy to eat, high calorie foods?
Are you sitting with him to find out more about what he's doing? Are you bringing an activity of your own so you can be in the same room with him?
*** The definition of addiction is when something that your doing makes your life unmanagble. ***
That's just a piece of the definition. And really there isn't *a* definition. Each branch of mental and physical medicine has a different definition. And your fears are making you focus on the similarities and not letting you see where they're different.
*** He has seen and agrees he isnt being balanced and has agreed to look at another way to bring more balance. ***
People often are out of balance when they discover something new and hugely fascinating. That's because they have a big hole of curiosity in them that seeks to be filled. They're willing to put up with a great deal of discomfort to devote as much energy as they can to this fascinating thing, to filling up the hole. As their fill goes up, the discomfort they'll put up with goes down. When they're full, then they'll be in balance again and more wiling to spread their energy around to other things in life.
It will help you and him *hugely* if you see what he's doing as perfectly normal for a new hugely engaging interest. Don't make him feel wrong or bad. He'll be filling his hole with a big dose of guilt and thoughts about how he isn't capable of knowing what's good for him. Instead, support his fascination :-)
*** What I'm going to suggest is to sleep from midnight til 9am play for an hour then do his responsibilties then he can play til midnight!! ***
I can think of some extreme examples of responsibilities that a mom might need a kid's help for. Perhaps a husband serving in the military and mom wanting to keep the farm going until he gets back. You don't need to explain because no matter how great the need for his help, the more you can treat it like the responsibilities are yours and yours alone and draw him into being with you joyfully and helping you voluntarily, the more peaceful the home will be and the happier you will both be. No matter how great your need, it can't change that psychological reality.
There's a great deal about chores at Joyfully Rejoycing, down the right hand side.
The the theory was to see if it would burn himself out and he would regulate himself. Did'nt work...
Two weeks isn't nearly enough time to know if he'll "burn himself out" or not - and that's really not the goal. If he's passionate about gaming, he may remain passionate - I have passions that began thirty years ago! Two weeks isn't long enough to know if he's "addicted" to something that isn't physically addictive. It isn't long enough to know if he's "managing" anything at all - two weeks is no time at all!
Your history of addiction and "belief" in addiction (in the AA model?) are going to color what you see. If you can't step away from those ideas, it may help you to look into alternatives to the AA-type theories. Those are popular, but don't help more than a third of those who try them willingly. So its a good idea to consider other ways of looking at addiction. Environment plays a big, big factor in addiction. People who heal from addictions outside of the AA model consistently site environmental factors as having a big influence on their decision to move on. So do what you can to make his environment lovely and supportive. Bring food that is easy to eat at the computer, offer back rubs, be supportive of him and his passions.
I love my son and we are doing unschooling because I want him to evolve organically with his choices and desires being fufilled by him
Those things take time - and sometimes look like getting allllllll wrapped up in something for months on end. Look for more ways to help him get his needs met without jumping to the assumption that he's broken and needs to be fixed. Give him time to "evolve" rather than expecting him to "get with the program" as it were, in just a couple weeks. Do, please do, research other theories of addiction since that's going to hang heavy in your thoughts and expectations. Your expectation that he will be addicted is part of his environment, after all, and kids do sometimes live up to parental expectations. I'm willing to bet you don't want to push him in that direction with your good intentions.
Did you tell your son 2 weeks ago that you decided to let him play as long as he wanted from that day on?
Or did you just started out saying yes more?
I see that you posted in the teens group months ago how it was so hard to get him off of video games. It seems that it has been a battle that has been going on for months if not longer and then you just turned and said: go ahead and do as much as you want.
It also seems like your son does not trust you and that he wants to get as much time as he can before you start limiting him again. That is a very normal response to beeing limited before for so long.
It also looks like that you may have given him freedom to play but it comes with your fears and attidutes that say you do not approve of what he is doing and you do not fully suport it.
That is very different than in a home where the child feels supported and that the parent values what the child does.
My son is an avid gamer. He is amazing in what he does at the tender age of 8.
Just recently he has bee into Minecraft and it has become a big passion.
This is a child that has never been limited and never heard from me that he is becoming addicted or gaming too much.
He has a Wii, and X-Box 360 with Kinect, and a brand new PS3 plus his own computer. He saved money fo a year to buy his PS3 and we gave him the remaining that he did not have on Christmas.
He comes and shows me all he is doing . I sit with him and help him a lot. I set up a server on my computer so he could play Minecraft with his friends. I researched with him ( but I have to say he is now more knowledgebla than I am !).
I show him videos and any interresting thing I came across about his games. He feels trully supported and valued.
Even with all this passion he will stop gaming and take many breaks a day to do drills with his basketball and play pretend with his sister.
He is the kid that stops playing to go help his dad unload and stack firewood. He helps me make the beds. Many times it is just to come talk to me and tell me about what he has been doing and things he has learned. I listen.
I also bring him food and drinks.
There is a big difference between letting your child just do as much gaming as he wants and supporting your child's passion.
If you change your attidute to one of suppot, of valuing his passion, of seeing all the wonders of video games, I bet you will start seeing how much learning he is doing, and how much joy he is having ( even when games make you , sometimes, momentarily frustrated) and your fears will lessen and you will see how different it is from having an alcohol addiction.
Does unschooling and video games also apply to adults? What if adults enjoy playing video games to extremes? What is the difference between adults thinking that their kids have an addiction to game playing, and concern for an adult having an addiction to game playing. How far does the unschooling apply, in age?
Reason I am asking, I am an adult who happens to love playing some online games. I have recently been given the suggestion that I am "addicted" to gaming and that I should get help even. There is even an Online Gamers Anonymous website dedicated to this purpose. (http://www.olganon.org/)
If I am making sure that I try to balance my responsibilities to home and family between game time, while still really enjoying playing online games, does that mean I am addicted. And even if I am, is that a bad thing? According to website I just referenced, video game addiction is a VERY serious problem not to be taken lightly. How does that make me feel? Generally, pretty crappy! and I'm not really sure if I buy into it.
What are some of your thoughts on this matter?
-=-Reason I am asking, I am an adult who happens to love playing some online games. I have recently been given the suggestion that I am "addicted" to gaming and that I should get help even.-=-
I guess it depends who said that. If it was one of your kids or your husband, that's well worth considering.
If you're home, available to your family, taking care of the house, why does it matter whether your personal activity is reading books, embroidering, carving wood, painting or playing video games?
Matters because supposedly gaming is a worthless activity that provides no end result (like doing embroidery, wood carving, painting, etc...) and that is why it is considered to be a waste of time. I suppose that parents also feel the same way with their kids who enjoy gaming...well and I'm wondering what the difference is. Even if there is a difference.
It doesn't create a physical end result. It does create an emotional end result.
Does dancing create an end result? Singing? Observing cherry blossoms? Attending a play? Watching TV? Visiting with friends?
1) Video games are involving. The really good ones will need a lot of time to play. So there's that factor.
2) If video games have been limited, and the limits released, it's likely kids who love video games will glut until they're confident they can play as much as they need to.
3) Many people use video games, TV, painting, reading, going out after work, shopping, having a drink, exercise as ways to unwind from stress. So there's that additional factor. Ideally, it's better to get rid of what's causing the stress than to constantly be relieving it.
Unschooling kids aren't likely to be playing video games to escape stress. Mom should be finding a way to get rid of the stress. They should be playing because they're fun and challenging.
Deschooling kids, especially those whose game play has been limited (by mom or by time being eaten up by school) can be playing video games for reasons 1, 2 and 3. Reasons 2 and 3 will eventually go away. 2 after a couple of months generally. 3 may last as long as deschooling (which is 1 month for each year the child was in school)
4) Some people use the activities in 3 as ways to escape from parts of life or parts of their pasts that they feel they have no control over. They're soothing but the activities don't make those problems go away. They often compound the problems, ramping up the need to escape. That's addiction.
Unschooling kids definitely shouldn't be seeking escape from a life or past they can't control. Mom should be helping kids gain control over their lives.
All the above will look on the surface like each other but they're all very different. The most important aspect is why someone is choosing an activity. That's what sets all the above apart from each other.