There’s no escaping it, my lad (nearly 17) loves gaming. Therefore he wants to, and usually does, spend a lot of time at his computer online gaming. I don’t like it because I think he should be doing other things as well – ie away from the screen and the internet.
Our modem allows me to set times on and off for particular devices and I have set it up for his computer as this is what he spends the bulk of his screen time on. This was after negotiating with him about these times. If we argue about anything it’s the times I’ve allocated to when it goes off particularly around the times on the weekend although he’s hardly mentioned it recently.
This negotiation included him taking some more responsibility for things around the house. He already has jobs to do and now that he wants to stay up later he has to cook once a week. This was implemented at the beginning of this year. Plus it’s a good life skill to have. I’ll always remember the time I travelled with a mid 20s male friend and when I broached taking it in turns to cook in the evenings he said he’d never cooked before. The first meal of overcooked rice and baked beans was nearly edible and it could only go up from there.
At the moment I usually tell him when and what he’s going to cook. It’s not been easy to get this process happening. Even though he agrees with it in principle, the reality is often a bit different. I’ve told him that if he doesn’t cook once a week then I’m revising his technology cut-off time. He’ll still push for me to help him and by helping he means being his kitchen hand. I try to remain as hands off as possible because otherwise he’ll never learn. For the most part what he cooks is pretty edible although the recent chorizo cassoulet was a bit dry and I realised he’d left out the stock. He also doesn’t like that part of cooking means cleaning up but as I’ve reasoned with him is that I’m happy for him to clean up every time I cook and I’ll do the same for him. He decided to clean up after himself and cleans up reasonably well after he cooks.
Recently he refused to go his school’s sports day because none of his mates were going. I can’t physically make a 6’5” young man do anything so all I had were other consequences and those included turning off the wifi for his computer and leaving him a long list of jobs to do for the day. Fortunately this was followed up an after-school detention as well. However I refused to sign a note excusing him for the day for him to get out of this after school detention.
But being the resourceful young man he is he found a way of assigning his computer a different MAC address so he could connect to our wifi. When I realised what he was doing I found that you can download software to spoof your computer’s MAC address for this type of thing. The modem thinks it’s a different device to what I’ve turned off so he can then connect.
Unless I turn off the wifi for all devices I don’t have a technological leg to stand on. So it was back to negotiation. And this is the key. MAC spoofing must have its drawbacks so the negotiation went better than I expected.
MAC spoofing is no longer being used – although sometimes threats are made to turn it back on.
In regards to the amount of time he spends gaming? Maybe it’s not too bad after all. At least he’s showing that he can commit to something. He is ranked in the top 7% of the game he plays.
Penelope Trunk has given me some hope about my son’s gaming habit.
I had a chat with one of my teens the other day about how I do think it is harder for them now in many ways than when I was younger. We simply didn’t have the option of so many distractions on devices that kept us sedentary! I loved reading about your experiences Jen as there really is something comforting in knowing this is an area that is a challenge for most parents.
Thank goodness for the lack of the internet when I was a teen. It was hard enough navigating puberty. And there’s the whole online bullying thing now too.