When you work with kids, you can’t help but reflect on the state of childhood, parenting, society and their intersection.
This week’s musing started with an article that I read talking about parents concerned about their children (i.e., boys) addiction to a video game called “Fortnite.” I had never heard of the game, but as it happened, I had a flow of teen age boys this week talking about their “gaming” habits who were able to schooling me about Fortnite and their daily reality..
Child number one, 14 year old Noah, told me how he was “raging” (kids are now using the term regularly as a verb fairly) when things were not going his way while playing a game. As it was told to me, he was losing a game and throwing his controller at the wall while cursing. His parents told me that they made some half-hearted attempts to tone down the “raging” but it wasn’t having much of an impact.
Noah explained his anger to me, admitting that he had screamed at his father to “F-Off” (said more explicitly than than that).
Listening to each side of the story I frequently feel like I am in the position of being the “People’s Court Judge” passing down a verdict.
With Noah I hadn’t declared him “guilty” until he got to the part of the part of the story where he told his father to “F-Off.”
The second child, Logan, age 15, was trying to tell me he wasn’t really addicted to playing video games.
“On average, how many hours do you play on video games each day,” I asked Logan.
“Maybe four or five,” Logan responded.
I got out my calculator. “Let’s see. So you told me you started playing when you were seven,” I said to him. “So, that’s 365 days a year multiplied by five hours a day over an eight year period. That comes to 14,600 hours of video games that you’ve played to date give or take a few hundred.”
Logan looked a bit stunned with that number. Of course, he had tried to reduce the number of hours played on games such as League of Legends by using a service known as unranked smurfs. These companies play your account for you, so you can reduce the amount of time you spend playing on the “boring” parts of the game. You might be interested in creating league of legends smurf accounts first before you get unranked smurfs to play for you. By creating this account for yourself you get to have way more fun with the game. But it’s up to you, if you don’t have the time to play then get someone else to play it for you. However, if you want to experience the game in it’s full glory then get a smurfs account for yourself. But be prepared for lack of sleep, if you’re wanting to play the game yourself and experience every part of it, you could use guide websites like Warcraft Tavern to help you through some of the harder obstacles within the game.
I continued. “If you factor in sleep, (we played with some more numbers and multiplied 8 hours of sleep over eight year period), you probably have played video games for about one fourth of your waking life from the age of five.”
While I am not a scientist and have not conducted a formal or valid research study, I can say with pretty good certainty that there isn’t one boy over the age of 10 who isn’t logging in significant hours on their screens.
When you include playing on the iPad, which most kids are starting to do around the age of four (or younger), then the numbers change dramatically.
Parents all the time that they are “limiting their child’s screen time.” I know. I know.
One last point. Of the 14,600 or so hours spent playing Fortnite, Minecraft, World of Warcraft, or whatever, that means they are not socializing or playing outside (quaint activities that children used to do). However, parents must also realize their kids aren’t just glued to their screen playing on their own, they could also be socializing thanks to the online multiplayer aspect of many of these popular games such as these Epic Minecraft Servers that allow Minecraft users to play online together, children may not be going outside to play with their friends, but they will be playing with their friends on their favorite gaming platform.
Take out your calculator and play with some numbers.
Like Logan, you will probably be stunned.
(Next week, we will build on this topic.)
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When you add in TV time, you can wonder if they ever find time to play outdoors or read a book.
Tell me about it!!!!
With school holidays approaching here in Australia, I am dreading how much time my 2 boys will spend on their screens.
My 11 year old has started having 2 going at once!
One screen on you tube to listen to a gamer blabbing-on or music.
One screen he is playing on.
These screens are sucking up their lives. It is time they are not reading, building, riding, talking, playing, practicing any other skill, talking, climbing, running, experimenting, pretending, helping…
We do external activities to add variety and get them away from the screens, eg, Scouts, soccer, Racquetball.
To be fair, sometimes they are self-educating themselves about a special interest or question that has come up.
I am considering turning the WIFI off for certain times during the day or having time blocks where screens are off limits.
I am interested to hear other parents thoughts, strategies around this challenge please.
I appreciate your thoughts.
I would also like to hear what other parents have to say.
It’s a very challenging topic – one not easily resolved.