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Country Discussion Topics
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Kids, Video Games, and Schoolwork
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F14    Posted 12-20-2001 at 06:09:38       [Reply]  [No Email]
Due to his Momma's work schedule, our 10 year old grandson, Casey, lives with us during the week.

That makes us responsible for seeing that his schoolwork is done. We've been trusting him to tell us the truth about what work needs doing, then ensuring that it gets done, helping where necessary, but mostly 'motivating'.

Got a note yesterday saying he was in deep doo doo grade-wise, and would really have to hump the second part of the marking period to catch up. I'm not entirely sure, but the initial indications are that the written homework is getting done, and he's getting good marks on it, but he's neglecting to tell us about upcoming quizzes and tests, and not studying for them, with predictable results.

Part of the problem is, "I don't know what the quiz is gonna be on, so I don't know what to study". Uh-huh. In other words, you're used to seeing the questions ahead of time so you can bone up on that and ignore the rest of the chapter.

Another part of the problem is that he has trouble focusing. Can't sit still for 3 seconds, cutting up with his neighbors, etc. This is where the video games part of the title comes in. I'm of the opinion that the intense input from video gaming (I've watched, he looks like he has St. Vitus' Dance when he's playing) has him so wired that he literally can't sit still, and any less intense stimulus just doesn't reach him. Yet, when he's watching those moronic Japanese cartoons (Dragonball Z and such) he sits for hours with his eyes glazed over and his mouth hanging open, not moving a muscle.

So here's my question: I'm considering banning video games period. I'll take the time/make the effort to replace them with board games or other games (he likes to play cribbage, for instance) and other pursuits that require him to interact with flesh and blood instead of pixels.

Also, like most kids, he's quite demanding, wanting to ride the snowmobile, or ride the 4 wheeler or other activities that require adult supervision and thereby take up my time. I don't mind (usually) but another gambit I'm considering is this:

"You want me to invest my time and gas money to entertain you. What do I get out of this deal? Nothing in life is free, sooner or later, you have to work for EVERYTHING you get, including play time. I'll make you a deal, you do ALL your homework without complaining, you WORK at studying and getting your test scores up, and I'll 'pay' you by contributing to your entertainment."

Any thoughts on these two approaches?


Don Phau    Posted 06-01-2002 at 17:11:00       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Re: United Nations Protocul to Ban Violent Video Games. We are building support.


death    Posted 05-15-2002 at 12:56:23       [Reply]  [No Email]
What is with people and banning video games it will never happen its a violation of our rights and if you don't like videogames thats to bad.


death    Posted 05-15-2002 at 12:56:00       [Reply]  [No Email]
What is with people and banning video games it will never happen its a violation of our rights and if you don't like videogames thats to bad.


ShepFL    Posted 12-21-2001 at 08:05:29       [Reply]  [Send Email]
F14 -
Drop me an email after Christmas if interested. I have about 14 pgs. of info for short attn. span, developing attn. skills and some ideas for behaviorial intervention. No, I am not a Dr., shrink etc. but I have done a significant amount of reading.

I have 2 boys that have some steep challenges in this area and thru the use of these skills I now have them in Honor Roll. Mark is my 10 yr. old - A/Bs, Dustin is my 11 yr. straight A's all yr.

Big help for me was to use a blank 30 min. cassette tape and at odd time intervals record a sound (tapping glass with spoon). Play this tape during study times. At each sound my boys ask themselves "Am I on task?" if so, place a check in the chart, if not resume studying. Best time intervals 3,4,3,5,4,2,4,3,2. Also take a 10 min. break every 30 min. of studying (time to flip the tape).

We track progress throughout the week and the winner has his choice (within reason) of Free Friday activities - i.e., dinner of choice, no showers, video tape, game of choice etc.

This has not been easy, at times it has been frustrating and at times can become time consuming, but if they become better students and subsequently better adults I feel it is worthwhile.

As to TV - Not allowed in our house unless Mom & Dad are watching also. WE all have to agree to program otherwise no TV and radio comes on and we do other activities - computer, board games, etc.

Video Games (GAMEBOY Only) - earned with good grades, 1 weekend day for each A, 1/2 day for B, nothing for C and below. I generally give them a solid day to do what they want, then book balance of weekend with other outdoor activities. This tends to diminish the video game urges. These games are constant visual and mental stimuli with no physical component.

Other activities - BB guns last Christmas, this Christmas - bow & arrows with home-made tree stands (5' off ground). Bikes and fishing poles with dog at the local creek makes for a fun day.

I try to increase their outdoor activities during the day - rule here is Sunny weather - outside all day, Bad weather - help around the house, then family board games, reading etc.

Also in the fall they both are encouraged play football. Spring is either soccer or baseball.

To improve social skills and self reliance, self esteem, pride, civic responsibility etc. I have signed them both up for Scouting. Dustin in Boy Scouts of America, Mark is Webelos. The scouting thing is a great incentive for them both and also reduces our workload tremendously.

By offering my place as camp site, starting in March the troop will be out here preparing areas for their future camp outs. I offer land and toilet services (tree) and they learn skills. I only hope they stick with it all the way thru school.

One noteworthy thing I discovered is that the school offered very little outdoor recess - no way to burn off pent up energy. My boys were ALWAYS in trouble. Now then I make them play hard as they can once chores are done so they are exhausted come bedtime.


MikeH-Tx    Posted 12-21-2001 at 10:06:24       [Reply]  [No Email]
Shep, congrats. You sound like you are on top of things. Great results after some very impressive planning.


Clemantine    Posted 12-21-2001 at 04:39:17       [Reply]  [No Email]
My opinion is that you are a Fantastic Grandparent! Thinking of "entertaining" kids makes me shudder so you are amazing to me.

My ten year old plays lots of video games too and is placid as a dead toad. I, therefore, don't think the games and the hyperactivity are related.

I homeschool the lad and use the games as a sort of threat/reward: "No games until all your studying is done" or "You played before you worked so now your computer will be nothing but 'typing tutor' for a day". It works for us anyway.

Now, tell me how you get kids to go outside to play? My kids would rather study than have to do that.

Best of luck! Clem


LazyHorse    Posted 12-20-2001 at 21:06:29       [Reply]  [No Email]
My 9 year old was in about the same shape, declining grades, lack of attention to details, etc. Played video games nearly constantly.
We finally resorted to setting motivational goals which seemed to have worked. Simply he only gets to play or watch cartoons for the same length off time he devotes to studies. He can whip through the math and stuff real quick, but slows considerably for reading which he doesn't like to do. The wife and I both read constantly so we know we have not set a bad example.
Another thing we've done is to get him outside and away from all the household stimulus as much as the weather permits. He has also taken up the yo-yo and is becoming quite good. His grades have come up quite well, and he does his homework and studying when he is supposed to. The only problem we have currently is he gets really wound up when tired and hates to go to bed. My usual cure for this is to watch the history channel or discovery since he doesn't like those shows and he will finally just nod off.


Clemantine    Posted 12-21-2001 at 04:45:06       [Reply]  [No Email]
I had to chuckle. My son has been known to stay up all night watching Discovery, Health, and History channels. It is hard to get too upset when he is able to discuss the Battle of the Bulge or something as he nods off at breakfast.

Hubby uses History Channel to fall asleep to. I have the notion that some day I will be able to say the name "Hitler" and he will instantly fall asleep....

But then, I get lots of notions.... Clem


TomH    Posted 12-20-2001 at 17:09:41       [Reply]  [No Email]
Since you asked here's my observation. His evening entertainment during the week is video games or TV, both solitary activities. During the day he cuts up with classmates. Hmmm, sounds like he needs more human contact.

You're suggestion to play other games sounds like it's a move in the right direction. Another suggestion I offer is to help him study for the quizzes. Likely he'll appreciate time spend with Gramps even if it's study time. Make it fun rather than a chore, cut up with him while you study. Takes time but he'll be grown soon (you already know that).


MikeH-Tx    Posted 12-20-2001 at 14:35:46       [Reply]  [No Email]
Ludwig makes a very good point in that he didn't come around to be a good student until he wanted to. No matter how much you try, you still won't be able to know for sure if he is studying enough or the right stuff, until too late. You will still be depending on junior to pick what he studies. I would recommend that you put a set minimum time for studying every night, even when nothing is due. That way, there is no reward for quitting early instead of doing general study toward a test on the way, with unknown questions.

I hate the violent video games that 10yr old boys love. Therefore, probably not good at offering a balanced opinion on that. However, I don't personally worry about Ludwig's point on TV hypocracy. If junior wants to watch what the adults are watching, fine. It's just that he doesn't get to watch the crap he wants to watch. Not that it is bad for him (maybe it is), it's just not going to happen until grades improve, period.

All that said, my biggest arguement is still that all the reinforcement is negative. ASAP, try to give a reward for positive results. x hrs of TV for 100s on tests, video game priviledges for A's on report cards, or whatever. Not that anything is wrong with negative reinforcement at the beginning - just switch as soon as it will help the cause.

Last bit of free advice: Most teachers offer some sort of supervised study, even in grade school. That, or a tutor, or a neighbor a few years older to do some paid study help would force the length of time studying and become a rigid schedule that is not compromisable via pressure to the G-parents.


Ludwig    Posted 12-20-2001 at 10:19:42       [Reply]  [No Email]
I disagree halfway.
I think TV is the enemy, not video games. Normally from the description you gave I'd wonder about a diet high in twinkies and other processed food, but I know you too well for that.
Now think about what you've described. When playing the games he's excited and engaged. When watching TV he's a drooling lump. Which would you prefer?

The problem, and here comes the hard part, is that if he is banned from tv, you need to be cut off too.
Ain't that the worst? When I was little my parents took away tv bunches of time, but the hypocracy of them (mother mostly) still watching it, even though it was "not good for me" was awful.

The "I don't know whats on the test" thing is a cop out. He's trying to make it easier on himself. You need to hold him to a higher standard. It wasn't so many years ago (I'm only 15 years older than him) that I went through the very same things myself. It didn't improve until college when I started studying things I cared about. My grades through highschool were abysmal, I was in the bottom of my class, 5th from the bottom out of 69. However I graduated college in the top 30%, missed being Cu-m(good lord, does that trip the censor? It does, I can't believe it!) Laude by 0.03 points.

Anyhow, I think that playing board games and stuff is a good place to start, but I'd use it to replace TV mostly. Maybe teach him chess....


F14    Posted 12-20-2001 at 11:37:39       [Reply]  [No Email]
I appreciate your input, Ludwig. Couple of notes:

I'm not taking TV away because "it's bad for him" I'm docking his priveleges as a consequence of not doing his work. Two different things. I agree that less (or no) TV all around would probably be a Good Thing.

Re: video games. I'd like to see him interested and excited about something that will be of benefit, not something that is essentially a waste of time. I don't buy the concept that ALL education has to be entertaining. I think it's not only okay, but IMPORTANT that children get the idea that education involves WORK.

Re: weekend respites from Grampy's Rules. I wish. Part of the reason Mom has agreed to this arrangement (whether or not she'll admit it) is that Grampy gets to be the A-Hole, and Mom gets to look like the Good Guy by entertaining him all weekend. Not the best of all possible worlds, but the best that can be obtained for the moment.


Franz    Posted 12-20-2001 at 09:38:21       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Go with your plan, and be ready to hear how it's bad for his self esteam. The whole crop of kids today is being "educated" that their self esteam is the most important thing inthe world, and that all adults exist to entertain them.
They are also conditioned to believe they are above any consequence for their actions. If you don't put a stop to it now, things will only get worse. There's far too much networking between kids to determine what they can get away with next, and too many are gettin away with too much.
The "Idont know what the test is gonna be on" thing is because the "teacher" is constantly telling the kids "you gotta learn this cause it's gonna be on the test". You just might want to stop by school and arrange to monitor a few classes.


F14    Posted 12-20-2001 at 11:42:54       [Reply]  [No Email]
I hear ya on the self esteem issue. I'll have that fight with anybody that will listen. The only self esteem worth having is earned from accomplishments. Self-esteem ladled out like Kool Aid is not only useless, but counter-productive. These kids are told all through school how wonderful they are, whether they accomplish anything or not. Then when they hit the real world, with real expectations and real measuring sticks, they can't cut it, they don't understand why, and they go postal. Your boss doesn't want to hear about how wonderful you are, he wants to see the work get done.

I get "Must be your military background" as a reply when I advance this argument. My reply is "Actually, it's probably good that you're building up their self esteem. They'll need a LOT of it when they spend the rest of their life flipping burgers at McDonalds..."


Salmoneye    Posted 12-20-2001 at 08:25:51       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Sounds fair to me.
Just make sure that the deal is followed through on when he gets out of your sight on the weekends...


F14    Posted 12-20-2001 at 11:43:54       [Reply]  [No Email]
See my reply to Ludwig. Lost track of who said that while I was composing my replies.


IHank    Posted 12-20-2001 at 06:56:12       [Reply]  [Send Email]
F14- You're making real good sense to me. Trouble is that your solution must work with a kid from a generation that is almost like being from another planet. We older people simply don't comprehend what makes these young kids tick as much as we need to.

Yes, board games, card games, and such will work with kids. 'Ya gotta get right in there and play with 'em. It's not something to turn 'em loose with while you go tend to chores, etc.

When you hear complaints from the kid's other grandparents about the kid using coarse language, like "Oh shut up and deal!", you'll know you're getting some results. Grins, IHank


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