What to do?

(92 Posts)
awaywiththepixies Thu 19-Sep-13 19:06:35

I have been home edding my 12 year old DS for two years. It is a constant battle to get him to do anything. He will not do anything himself and thinks everything I arrange is crap or a waste of his time. All he wants to do is play World of Warcraft.

I am fearful that he is ill prepared for a life of doing anything but playing Wow.

I was told that give him enough time and he would become interested in stuff but that's just not happened.

I think he was in school too long and anything that smells like learning is seen by him as a punishment.

Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks

chocoluvva Fri 20-Sep-13 09:56:47

Is he interested in any bands?

DS read George Orwell's '1984' after being inspired by the band 'Muse'.

Prog rock, disco, punk; all come with a social/historical context.

I don't know the world of warcraft, but could he learn about historical armies/militia in the context of great civilisations and/or wars eg WW2. Perhaps he'd be interested in the philosophies behind the perpetrators eg facism, communism etc. That would link with biology, psychology, economics, geography etc.

Might he be interested in the technology/science behind modern warfare?

bebanjo Fri 20-Sep-13 20:44:59

how long has he been out of school?
many home edders recommend 1 mth for every year of school, i would say give it a year.

SatinSandals Fri 20-Sep-13 22:16:52

OP has already said for two years. Is there a reason for not trying secondary school?

awaywiththepixies Fri 20-Sep-13 22:35:15

He didn't go to secondary school as the same problems that he experienced at junior school would follow him there.

He seems to have no motivation for anything but computer games.

I am terrified that come working age he is going to be totally unprepared but don't want to be putting pressure on him.

SatinSandals Fri 20-Sep-13 22:48:18

Is there a reason for not putting pressure on him?
I would only let him play the game if he had done a set amount of work. If he didn't do anything else then it would be just tough he didn't get to play.
Or I would simply tell him that the computer was going off for a week and let him get thoroughly bored so that he had to do something. If he moans that he has nothing to do you could suggest potatoes to peel etc.

Is there more to it? A reason why you can't upset him?

chocoluvva Sat 21-Sep-13 08:45:27

is he able to begin thinking about life after school age? Would he enjoy/manage something like a uni degree in a related field, eg games design orcomputer studies?

Obviously he needs A levels for those.....

(Apologies if you have posted about him before.)

claraschu Sat 21-Sep-13 09:09:49

I have told my HE 15 year old, who sounds similar to your son in being very put off by the idea of any conventional learning.

I have told him he must do something for his mind, something for his body and something for his spirit. He works hard on his music, is learning German, goes to the gym and does yoga, and I am trying to get him to use his music as a volunteer (not much has happened with this yet).

I think a combination of a bit of strong-arming from you, and using WoW as an inspiration for some other activities (as suggested above) might work. Sometimes, I think you do have to nag and put pressure on kids, maybe because they have been corrupted by the world of school, maybe because our society is messed up, maybe because no one is perfect. Who knows?

Would you want to talk about what happened to put him off school?

SatinSandals Sat 21-Sep-13 09:25:45

I think that we would have to know more about what had happened at school to give proper advice.
Without any further information I would say that we were having a technology free household for October and include everyone in it. Everyone would get one hour a day on the computer and one hour a day TV - ( an hour of their choice) and be strict about it- even to yourself.
The rest of the time they have to decide what to do. If he tantrums let him.if he moans tell him that it is not your problem- you will give suggestions or you will support if he wants to do something but other than that it is his problem.

chocoluvva Sat 21-Sep-13 09:36:57

I think that's a great idea. Screens are addictive. (I should know!)

SatinSandals Sat 21-Sep-13 09:42:08

He is a 12 year old child and he has an addiction so I think you need to treat it as such. Perhaps get professional advice. Unless it is tackled I can't see him changing next year or the year after, he is likely to get worse.
Do you do simple things like eat together and talk?

julienoshoes Sat 21-Sep-13 10:57:55

Hello OP
Are you part of the home educating community locally?
You may well find there are others of a similar age who play the computer almost as much.

My lad, used to play lots...and lots, but would come out with us whenever interesting alternatives were offered.
Home Ed camps through the summer for example, or HE workshops and meetings where activities suited him.
We used to discuss the effects of over use of screen time, on a developing brain, and encouraged him to come out and about with us.
We asked for his input on what other things he enjoyed-and he was interested in playing Warhammer, Magic the Gathering and Fantasy role play games-all encouraged through his teen HE friends.
Our lad, like all of the others in our experience, put aside all computer games etc, when he chose to put his head down at college and then university to get the top grades he had set his mind on.

I know lots of autonomously HE lads who could have been described like your lad, at a similar age. One of whom now is acing his way through a Russell Group University doing a degree in an unrelated academic subject!
The subject actually came up at HesFes when young autonomously HE people did a question and answer session. Two of the lads identified themselves as potentially label computer addicts, but laughed and explained that it was an excellent way of socialising online, and they chose to go out when other stuff when it interested them. The key I think was finding lots to interest them. Both those lads did join in with other HE kids at camps like HesFes a lot.
One of them is now an outdoor pursuits instructor and the other took himself off to college when the time was right (as so very many of them do) and is now doing medicine at uni.

Others have of course, used all of this online experience to develop a career in gaming/computer programming -in fact I know quite a number who have become successful at that!

How about coming over to the Mumsnet HE Facebook page, and talk this through with people who are actually home educators-or better still come to the UK Unschooling Network FB page where more people hang out that home educate their children by following their interests and understand that learning can be obtained through living life-including when playing on computer games for very long stretches.

On applying to join either please send a message to the admin, to confirm you are a home educator.

ommmward Sat 21-Sep-13 12:41:17

Listen to Julie
she really knows what she is talking about!

SatinSandals Sat 21-Sep-13 13:25:19

I think that childhood is too precious to allow a child to become addicted to computer games. You are the adult. Switch it off! Boredom is good for children, it stimulates the imagination, something that can't happen if you rely totally on the computer.
Even if he doesn't want to do educational work yet he should be doing his share of the household chores and that would keep him busy if he had to cook some meals, mow the lawn etc
It can happen that a teenager can do nothing and then, once they set their mind, go to a RG university and get a good degree; but we only hear the success stories and many would not be capable.
I wouldn't risk it.
If you have a good home educating network, as described by julienoshoes, you have more chance of success; but many areas are not so lucky.
I may be wrong,but I don't think that OP would be so worried if he was socialising and part of a home educating community where she could also look for support. I feel, from her posts, that they are both isolated.
As I said originally we need more information. Any advice could be quite dangerous if we don't know the circumstances, he could have special needs, we don't know.

chocolatecrispies Sat 21-Sep-13 19:16:23

'It is a constant battle to get him to do anything'.
What if you stopped battling and focused on finding out what interests and inspires him instead? Could you play WoW with him? What does he like about it so much? What really inspires him and engages him? How could you nurture and develop that interest? What if you focused on your connection and relationship with him instead of what you think he should be doing and isn't?

That would be my starting point, not starting another set of battles by imposing limits and technology bans. If you have been battling with him for two years then it is not surprising that he does not want to do any of your suggestions.

I also agree with Julie - come over to facebook. Even if he doesn't want to connect with other home edders, you can and he might want to find other home educated young people to play WoW or other games with. The groups there are closed so you can discuss home ed issues with other home edders alone.

julienoshoes Sat 21-Sep-13 20:24:14

"we only hear the success stories"

As opposed to children in school, where they are forced to work etc, and we know from regular reports that children fail to achieve the Governments own target of 5 GCSE...I think the latest report is 42% failure rate...

and the way I read the OP that a school type route has already failed miserably.

Horses for courses, the OP will make up her own mind, knowing her son.

Success for me is for the young person to finish their compulsory education age, as a happy, self confident, gainfully employed, individual.

But the reason you don't hear of failures from me, is because amongst the hundreds now, of autonomously HE young people I know in real life, hand on heart I don't know any.

OP do come to FB if you can.
Not everyone there will agree with me, but you will actually be amongst people with experience of HE

exoticfruits Sat 21-Sep-13 22:07:09

Unfortunately I know quite a few failures in HE.
I would imagine it is the same proportions as those in schools- the whole range.

exoticfruits Sat 21-Sep-13 22:22:02

I think that the problem is that you can say how wonderful HE has been for your children and all they associate with, and I can say how wonderful school has been for my children and all they associate with- but unfortunately it isn't the same for all. There is always the entire range.
What OP needs is the practical advice like joining the FB group- most useful if she hasn't got a good HE community- and many areas don't have a good one.

cdsnhf Sat 21-Sep-13 22:55:55

Hi awaywiththepixies.

It's so hard, isn't it! I too initially had such a strong aversion to the use of any sort of console or screen. Over the years, I have lost this fear and this, in large part, because I have seen way too many young people who I would have described as being addicted, maturing so wonderfully and simply thriving. ALL who have reached that age are either employed, or in uni and are loving life and giving back to it with joy.

I do think our fear of these media is analogous to the book burning episodes of yore. Any new means of passing on information is regarded with huge suspicion by those who are not familiar with dealing with the consequences. We worry about what will happen to the minds of those who are immersed in it. We naturally fear the consequences, and only hear about the possible terrible implications...as in the stories in the media which connect acts of violence to video games etc.

However, this last concern, I am fairly certain, is an error born of the availability heuristic. It is of course possible that I simply have the opposite availability heuristic, but I suspect mine is one that is born, not of recalling very rare, isolated, events, but one that actually more accurately represents reality. Instead of the incredibly rare occurrences, I have seen a pretty common-place group of mostly boys, though some girls who use these media extremely heavily, who have grown up to be wonderful, sociable, gentle, peace-loving, witty, sassy, worldly, competent problem-solvers who embrace stress when they need to and can multitask in a way that I envy profoundly!!

These kids have been HEd. They've played WOW, Runescape, Call of Duty, Doom, Rayman, Guitar Hero. They have laughed, written and talked about these games with friends and the wider world through online forums who have given huge dollops of critical feedback and who help to learn to think and write!

If a child is very absorbed in a game, you can be more or less certain that he IS learning something. It may not be a traditional form of education, but the degree of absorption is most likely giving him huge transferable skills.

My own son has huge skills in huge numbers of departments (having gamed heavily throughout his childhood). He has had virtually no formal lessons in anything other than music (which he chose to pursue). He is fit, takes his own fitness seriously. He is a gifted musician. Has just gone to college and is achieving top grades in all his subjects. He is kind and funny, (though his sister may disagree here...)

Other friends of his who did nothing other than play Doom until they went to college at 16 have gone on to win prizes at top unis, by which I mean to say that you won't be cutting off possibilities for your son by allowing him to pursue things that fascinate him, whatever they may be!

Ok, so it is very important you don't neglect him. You are meant to advise him as best you think you can!! Explain about the importance of exercise and offer him other alternative forms of entertainment. Most likely, perhaps with your help, he will see that sitting down beyond a certain length of time is painful and that he games more efficiently if he is fit and talks to others about it, gets their feedback, grows through learning to take criticism etc.

Books that discuss the future of education often talk about problems with the standard school model (shortfall of teachers, irrelevance of many subjects that rapidly become outdated, even within the space of a year!) These books are often explicit in their call to make education more like gaming.

I think the depth of attention that kids pay to these games, the complexity of the information they take on board, the speed with which they do it, the readiness with which they address complex problems...these are transferable skills and we can relax, if ever such a little, once we appreciate this.

SatinSandals Sun 22-Sep-13 07:32:54

Games give many transferable skills and I think that anyone can relax if their child enjoys them, my son has made a career from it so it has done him no harm at all, BUT this is a 12 year old child who appears to have no other interests. He ought to be out with friends, riding a bike, going swimming etc and finding interests in the real world.
My son spent a lot of time playing computer games, he still does as an adult but I would have been very worried had I not been able to interest him in anything else at 12 years. They can make online friends with these games, but they are not real friends.
I think it irresponsible to tell OP that her son, who is not even a teenager yet, can spend his life gaming and then, when he sets his mind to it, can snap out of it and have a glittering academic/artistic/musical career when he wants to. I have no doubt that some do, but they don't all.
As an adult I would limit the use of any type of screen and going back to claraschu say that he had to split the time and find something physical, something for the mind and something for the spirit in addition to gaming.

Maybe he needs to think of the future and if he wants a career in computer gaming it is a highly competitive field. Maybe finding out what is required would help- there are websites that tell you all the different jobs available and the skills needed. If he wants the technical side then Maths will be important, if he wants the artistic side life drawing will be very important.
I will be much more effective if you use the positive by going with the gaming rather than use the negatives and just switching them off.

SatinSandals Sun 22-Sep-13 08:09:35

'It will be more effective', the t got missed off. Carrot rather than stick is the best way;but not just washing your hands of it and trusting to other people's success stories. People are always keen to tell success stories'but they keep failures to themselves.

Salbertina Sun 22-Sep-13 11:12:09

Am totally with Satin! He's only 12 and needs at least a steer from an adult to ensure he covers the basics. Can't learn by osmosis. There's loads online- bbc bitesize etc

lougle Sun 22-Sep-13 13:53:31

I'm torn on this as a non-HE (but really curious) ex-WoW player. I played for 4 years and stopped for several reasons.

Pros:
-He'll be learning maths. WoW is very maths heavy:
a)Learning about spell priority (What hits hardest and why, what spell refreshes quickest, what spells are affected by global cooldowns, what spells are 'procced' by other spells and at what rate) for an efficient DPS (damage per second)
b) Learning about the Auction House - what sells well, what doesn't. What is worth spending time farming (ie. herbs, ore, fish, meat) because it is profitable and what is better to simply vendor because it takes up bag space.
c) Learning about his character, about the gems he needs, about the gear and weapons which give the best DPS.

-He'll be learning about team work. If he's in a guild he'll be communicating on guild chat with people from many walks of life and many different countries. When I played I knew people from Sweden, Qatar, Lebanon, Slovenia, South Africa, Denmark, Ireland, Kuwait, etc. We'd talk about the cost of living between countries, weather, etc.

If he does raids, he'll have to take directions from a Raid Leader about where to stand, what to do at certain points in the raid, where NOT to stand, etc.

-He'll be learning patience and tenacity - WoW is not an easy game to master and to get good at it you have to be prepared to die, die and die again.

-He'll be having fun. Lots of fun.

Cons:
-It is truly, highly, addictive. There's no getting away from it. The number of people who start playing and then stop are far fewer than the number who start playing and continue. Its nickname is 'World of Warcrack' for a reason.

The game mechanics are very clever. You just get to a point where you are at the 'top of your game' and a new patch is released, making subtle but significant changes and you are suddenly thrown in to disarray, respecing your gear, changing gems, reforging, etc., etc.

The leveling is also very subtle. You get a level up very very quickly at first, then gradually it gets harder to get a level up...you want it badly.

-See above. You are exposed to people from all over the world with no barriers. The language can be very adult even with mature filter switched on and there are some awful people on there.

-It's basic premise is violence and more violence. Your task for over 75% of the game is to find and kill so many of a certain type of NPC.

In my honest opinion, it's really not suitable for a 12 year old.

You can do certain things to make it better:

-Turn on mature filter
-Use the parental controls within the game to limit the time he can use it.
-You could expect him to earn his game time - it's only £8 per month so he could easily do chores to earn for it.

SatinSandals Sun 22-Sep-13 15:56:46

I think that earning game time is probably the way to try.
He appears to have been addicted to games from the age of 10 yrs, if not before. Not a lot is known about it, I have looked on the internet and this report for Panorama seems very fair.

Having read through quite a few reports the same advice appears to be given to parents:
Video games are becoming increasingly complex, detailed, and compelling to a growing international audience of players. With better graphics, more realistic characters, and greater strategic challenges, it’s not surprising that some teens would rather play the latest video game than hang out with friends, play sports, or even watch television.

Of course, all gamers are not addicts – many teens can play video games a few hours a week, successfully balancing school activities, grades, friends, and family obligations. But for some, gaming has become an uncontrollable compulsion. Studies estimate that 10 percent to 15 percent of gamers exhibit signs that meet the World Health Organization’s criteria for addiction. Just like gambling and other compulsive behaviours, teens can become so enthralled in the fantasy world of gaming that they neglect their family, friends, work, and school.

Most 12 year olds have to be out of their home for at least 6 hours a day and so it will never be quite as much of a problem as those who have unlimited access.

I think it is far too blasé just to say that a young person can spend hours at a time gaming, to the exclusion of other activities and interests, and it really doesn't matter because in their late teens they will suddenly wish to educate themselves and at that point will have a glittering future.

He is only 12 years old, I would find ways to cut down on the gaming and widen his other interests, rather than leave it to chance and hope that he will emulate other people's success stories. He might not and then it is much more difficult to deal with than a 12 year old.

awaywiththepixies Mon 23-Sep-13 00:34:35

Thank you all so much for your advice. I really appreciate it.

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