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Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Game is Up

Being in charge of the care and well-being of our 12-year-old grandson means we have been thrust head-long into the pitfalls of parenting in the 21st century. Our biggest problem has been coming to terms with and controlling Sam's access to modern technology. As he is not interested at all in girls or matters sexual (yet) we have at least not come across any of the problems as mentioned by one of my favourite bloggers,  John Gray today...

We have had a problem of another sort. I would call it Addiction to Games. In our house, he has had access to two gaming machines: an X-box and a portable Sony Play Station. Both of these have been confiscated. An I-Pad, which was given to him by one of his aunts in Korea just before he left to join us, has also been taken away from him and he is given only very limited access.

When Sam plays a game he becomes transfixed, mesmerized. If you speak to him, he does not hear you. His face becomes beet red and the eyes glassy. If he plays for much longer than an hour he will develop a headache and he will vomit. I think it's a kind of allergic reaction.

For the first few months Sam was here we wanted to show that we trusted him and we also wanted to allow for some 'mistakes' in order for him and us to learn about each other and our boundaries. When it comes to games, we can not trust him as far as we can throw him... A few weeks ago, I caught him red-handed at night when he was supposed to be in bed -- lights blazing playing the X-Box. I later learned that he had been doing this for quite a while. I removed the 'controllers' and they are in a place where he can not get to them. It will be a long time before they will be available to him again.

As for the Sony Play Station -- I/we told him that he would be allowed to play with that when we went on long journeys in the car. As a matter of trust I kept it in the bottom drawer of my desk. I later discovered that rather suspicious behaviour on his part was because he was plugging the damn thing in from the bottom drawer and playing his little heart away when I was busy elsewhere! I thought he was watching television. Well, the Play Station is now where he can't get his little mitts on it! He can now spend more time looking at the scenery!

I asked him one day, if he felt he wanted a cell phone. He said he used to have one in Korea, but that his parents had taken it away from him --

'I got in trouble', he said.

'Games?', I asked.

'Yes', he replied, with a sigh...

23 comments:

  1. You need to redirect his compulsive behavior that even he is aware of. But I guess you know that. How to do it...I got nothing.
    Sports? A Kindle? Crossword puzzles?

    Good luck, but limiting access is probably a good thing.

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    1. As long as he doesn't play the games, he doesn't exhibit any compulsive behaviour. For the time being it's 'cold turkey' -- but he has to stop trying to wheedle down my resolve! ;-)

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  2. A worrying sign of the times. Thank Goodness you are setting sensible boundaries. There must be many,many children out there going through this kind of addictive behaviour. You are certainly doing the right thing.

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    1. Thanks for your support, Molly. At Sam's birthday party last December most of the boys had their smart phones with them. Rather than partake of conversation, they preferred to focus on their small screens and thumb-pound their keyboards! So I would agree with you that there are many children out their exhibiting an addictive behaviour pattern...

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  3. I have two grandchildren who never go anywhere without there being access to TV, computer, games, ipod, iphone, etc. I don't say anything, though, I just feel sad for them, and hope that somehow they will find there way into the outside world. They have never visited our farm. I don't think they would be able to cope with the animals. They squeal whenever they see dogs which make dogs jittery and nervous round them, and we have four which would probably have to be locked up if they were to visit.
    I think you are a light shining brightly in your grandson's life, even if he does not know that yet. You have given him a chance to get a life, even if it is hard going at the moment.

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    1. Vera, what a shame that your grandchildren are missing out on the opportunity to have such rich and rewarding experiences as they would find on your farm. It will be interesting to see how Sam reacts to a month in France without access to the Internet from our house! I'm hoping he uses the opportunity to practise his French on the children next door who visit their grandparents several times a week!

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  4. I do feel for you as I have 3 grandsons who would probably go exactly the same way if it weren't that their parents keep them very strictly rationed when it comes to screen time of any kind. Gaming in particular is very addictive because of the need to keep piling up the scores. Well done for cottoning on to the problem and doing something firm about it. Children need boundaries until they are old enough to set their own. Kids, eh....?

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  5. It's tough these days, isn't it! Can you get him onto books? Even the weird fantasy ones that enthrall all my grandkids, including the ones being raised by my other daughter. I've had to confiscate them, in favor of studying, on occassion. Grandma Power!

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    1. He does like to read -- especially about dinosaurs and battles! The books he has are thoroughly thumbed through and re-read. He's not into fantasy or vampires (I am so glad!!), but adores Star Wars and Jurassic Park and given half a chance will wax lyrically about either!

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  6. Electronic games provide aural and visual stimulation and lots of immediate rewards. The trick is to find something else that provides a different kind of reward, something he responds to. For me, getting out into nature is equally engrossing. For some people sports do that. I hope he is able to find something that gives him little jolts of adrenalin or other pleasant brain chemicals! Not an easy thing to deal with; good for you for helping him.

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    1. I am hoping to be able to get him involved with a soccer team or the scouts when the weather improves. We have recently discovered that two of his classmates live not very far away and today he is playing with on of them. Fingers crossed! Having a mate is always a help.

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  7. Our grandkids are growing up without television. Or video games. Their favourite activity is reading. Their mom and dad both have computers, but they spend almost no time on them. (They spend a bit of time on one of my old computers, learning about word processing.)

    You have my condolences in dealing with Sam. I feel sorry for him, actually; his addiction is a probem.

    Blessings and Bear hugs!
    Bears Noting

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    1. I don't want to completely deny him -- just teach him that the name of the game is 'everything in moderation'!

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  8. Hi - he sounds as though he needs that extra care .... tough for you both ... but I'm sure he'll settle sometime.

    With many thoughts .. and wishing you a happy Easter - cheers Hilary

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    1. Thank you for your Easter greetings, Hilary. I hope your Easter was a happy one. Sam's behaviour in other things is excellent. But this problem is certainly a 'bug-bear'!

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  9. This is a tough one, trying to find the sensible restriction/ freedom boundaries. I am sure you are doing the right thing. Life must be tough for him getting used to so many different things, but with your love and care, I am sure he will be fine. The fact that he knows there is an issue must be good... carrots and sticks eh ? ( Well, not sticks...but you know what I mean.... catch him being good = reward )Jx

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    1. Finding the balance is the trick of life, isn't it? I can even get carried away with blogging! ;-)Yes, I think there is possibly a little reward coming his way toward the end of his Easter holidays!

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  10. Dear Broad, quite frankly, I don't think I'd be able to parent at this stage of my life. I so admire you for inviting Sam to live with you for a while and for doing the disciplining that must be part of growing up. By doing so, you are helping him establish boundaries and that's so necessary for maturing. But oh, how hard that must be. The ending of your blog makes me think that Sam realizes that your actions and those of his parents in taking away the cell phone were meant for his own good. It's not easy being young today, is it? Peace.

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    1. Thinking about it, Dee, I don't think it's every easy being young! Overall he is very good -- though he does like to talk -- a lot!!

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  11. Hi Broad,

    There isn't a simple answer, but overall I agree with Janice. This is quite a common problem which a lot of parents ignore. Playing the games should afford Sam some degree of relaxation, although it seems to be the opposite.

    Go with your instinct, be firm but avoid making the whole issue a battle ground. Sam obviously knows it's an issue. Perhaps in the summer he won't want to play quite as much.

    My son played a lot until he took up cricket. Nets, practices, matches etc took up loads of his time. Now he rarely plays any computer games - but then he is 22!

    Good luck!

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    1. I completely agree, Gaynor. And sports are a terrific antidote to this problem.

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  12. It can be quite a problem, and it's one that there isn't always much help for. I wonder if you can get him interested in something else... you are taking on a difficult task but I'm sure you will help him find the right balance.

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