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DS homework such a battle - addicted to smart phone games - desperate for help!! (LONG)

(43 Posts)
CarrieLouise25 Fri 25-Sep-15 13:22:28

We bought DS a phone for secondary school. A Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini, which we thought would be cool enough, but no where near broke the bank at £50 like the iPhone would (that some of his mates have!)

It was for a point of contact during the day/after school, and for games/apps on weekend/free time etc.

At the beginning it was all exciting for him, and he loved playing the games on there. It wasn't an issue at all though, didn't interfere with normal life.

There is a game called Invasion which he downloaded, and he is now constantly on there. It's been going on for months and months now. His phone is with him all the time.

It is stopping him doing his homework. I honestly don't know how he got through his first year. It was a battle every day, and it's exhausting.

We have done everything possible to try and help him. We tried a system where he did his homework as soon as he got home, but he just spent hours doing a couple of subjects. He said it was because all he could think about was his game. So we then changed the plan and said he could have an hour break when he gets in, and then does his homework. Problem is, he takes ages to get started. I have to keep asking and asking and cajoling until he starts. Then when he does start, he'll take all evening to get even one subject done.

We've taken the phone off him, so he can't be distracted, but he still takes hours over everything. When I check on him, he says he can't access the link the teacher gave him, or word isn't working properly, or something else.

He just can't wait to get back on his game (yet doesn't seem to want to do the homework out the way faster??). We keep saying, that the quicker he gets his homework done, the more free time he will have, but it makes no difference.

In his defence, he does get a lot of homework. He gets 3 subjects every day, and they are a minimum of 45 minutes each. He has always hated homework, and never easily got on with it without a big battle.

There does seem to be a lot of homework set on the laptop and internet research (and I'm going to assume he plays games and gets distracted on there). Even when we take the laptop away (if homework is not on there) and phone etc, he still takes forever. I can't always watch him as I'm either working, dealing with DD, cooking dinner etc

So I have 2 problems. I don't know how to make him do his homework. I've tried everything I can think of. By the weekend, he has built up a good 6 homework's that he didn't finish during the week. He will drag out the entire weekend on his games, and then start homework Sunday evening. We said this is not acceptable, so have taken his phone away and he starts homework afternoon time. BUT he still takes about 6-7 hours, and when I ask him if he's done all 6 - he's generally finished 2 maybe 3 if lucky. It also stops us going out, or planning to, if he's got too much homework.

And the major problem is the phone. He doesn't shower (unless forced), when we go out, he asks if there's WIFI, the phone is with him through dinner etc. When I try to get the phone from him, he keeps me standing there whilst he just does 'a bit more'.

Couple of ideas I have is: Turning off WIFI at a set time everyday, he can do homework club at school (which he will hate), any laptop work must be done in the family room so we can see him.

I'm reluctant to take the phone away permanently. Or to stop him gaming. I grew up with really shitty strict abusive parents, silent treatment, punishments, hitting, shouting, and I have gone the opposite with my DC's, to the point I am probably too soft with them. I don't want to be a tyrant, I want to help, understand, listen, and find solutions so that we're all happy.

I love DS so much, and I want to help him, but I just don't know how. Do I go and see his teacher? Will he see that as me telling on him?

I know he has a serious addiction, and I haven't a clue how to tackle it. He had a detention yesterday for not handing in homework, and he's dodged a couple of bullets in other subjects this week as teacher's said 'first strike'. But school has only been back 3 weeks! His exam results were not good last year, and his report - all teachers saying 'lovely polite boy, but didn't revise enough and let himself down on exams'.

SO sorry for the long post. Any advice most welcome (but please go easy on me - I'm pregnant and my hormones are already causing havoc and I've spent all afternoon crying about it)...

Thanks for getting this far smile x

LooseSeal Fri 25-Sep-15 13:41:28

I have just looked up the game your son has been playing on the ap store. It's a freemium game, as in the game is free to download but to progress quickly you have to spend real money. It's possible your son hasn't been spending real money, or money in large amounts but if he's obsessed and playing all the time he might have been. Below is a link to an article about someone who became addicted to a freemium game, I think it might be worth both you and your son reading it.

CarrieLouise25 Fri 25-Sep-15 13:46:55

Thanks LooseSeal - I'm going to read that now x

Rosa Fri 25-Sep-15 13:51:13

I would turn the wifi off for starters and also ban the use of the phone , take the battery out and hide it. Stop all access to any form of internet.
Are there any support groups similar to AA for gamers - there must be others who have
this looks like agood place to start.

Savagebeauty Fri 25-Sep-15 13:52:16

But he isn't responding to you being nice..he is in trouble at school and you are worrying about him getting upset?
I would take his phone away full stop.
He can have it Sunday night if homework completed.
Talk to school. Tell them you're doing this and you are supporting the school in the detentions and this is what you are doing to improve his attitude.
They may have some other strategies.
You are not his friend. You are his mother.

SavoyCabbage Fri 25-Sep-15 14:00:58

I think if your child is addicted to anything, then it's up to you to step in.

My dd was obsessed with reading. Which I realise sounds like a wanky stealth boast and that was part of the problem. That people were giving her positive praise for it. She was reading all the time. Walking along, eating her breakfast, playtime, every second of the weekends. So she was ignoring her friends and us at home. She didn't know what was going on because she never involved herself with anything so she was totally isolated. And yet to the outsider it was a good thing.

We realised that if she was on an X box or whatever like this for hours and hours then we would intervene.

CarrieLouise25 Fri 25-Sep-15 14:09:37

LooseSeal - I think that is definitely why he spends so many hours playing the game, as he can't spend any money to catch up, so he has to invest tonnes of time. He did tell me that the other players on there have spent hundreds on the game, and I didn't believe him TBH. These games are so addictive, and he gets 'punished' if he doesn't check and play daily, he'll get invaded or attacked and lose what he's built up.

Rosa - Thanks for the link, I will read that now. It's really hard with the WIFI as I need this for work, and often his homework involves internet research, content sent through email from teachers, set homework online via the teachers etc. We take his phone away until homework is complete, thinking that would motivate him, but he just doesn't want to do his homework at all.

Savagebeauty - yes I know, and I find that really hard not to sort things out nicely. I do think talking to the school and getting them involved is the right step.

The reason why I want to help him, rather than punish him, is to teach him how to manage work time/free time. Everyone works with screens these days, the computer/internet is unavoidable. So unlike a drug/smoking/drinking addiction that has to STOP, he cannot get away from using technology, and I want to teach him how to use it in the right way and to control his habits. By stopping him completely, i.e drastic reaction take the phone away completely - I don't know what I'm teaching him.

When the phone is away from him, he still takes hours to do homework, constant reminding, constant cajoling, it's so exhausting sad

PurpleAlerts Fri 25-Sep-15 14:10:35

He needs to go cold turkey.

Take away his phone and set restrictions on his laptop so he can only access the sites you want him to.

Buy him a cheapy little handset on PAYG so he can contact you in an emergency when out.

When his grades go up and he gets his homework done for a decent amount of time then you can let him have it back.

You are making a serious rod for your own back unless you get this under control.

CarrieLouise25 Fri 25-Sep-15 14:11:51

SavoyCabbage - anything can be an addiction smile, thanks for sharing, can I ask how you tackled it? x

CarrieLouise25 Fri 25-Sep-15 14:14:00

PurpleAlerts - that sounds like excellent advice. Rewarded for grades and improvements. We have the Microsoft family safety on his laptop, so I need to set up only the websites the school have given him to access.

AGrinWithoutACat Fri 25-Sep-15 14:19:23

Depending on your router you can set up access controls, I have ours set to limit wifi for both DD & DS otherwise they would constantly be youtubing old TV shows, they get a limited time only and if other things are being ignored none at all. I have it set up so can access the settings from my iPhone and adjust instantly if needed (settings are password protected) you can choose which device / what restrictions as well so the laptop with its safe sites list might have Internet access all the time but the phone only has wifi between 19:00 & 19:30

Twinkie1 Fri 25-Sep-15 14:19:49

Change the Internet password. Let him keep his phone and then if he used up all his free internet thingy he'll have to wait for the following months to kick in.

I'd go hardcore in him in terms of doing his homework too and literally be on his back as soon as he gets in until it's finished. No rest, TV etc until he can show he is grown up enough to take some responsibility for managing his time.

CarrieLouise25 Fri 25-Sep-15 14:20:59

AGrinWithoutACat - I never knew this, thank you, that sounds like a great idea x

booboobeedoo Fri 25-Sep-15 14:22:03

1. If you need wifi for work, change password and don't tell him.
2. Leave school to give the consequence for no homework.
3. Have a set routine for homework every night (set time which he has chosen).
4. Be available for the first 10-15 minutes of the agreed time to help set him up. Then leave him to it, don't nag, chase etc.
5. Have an agreed treat for a good week of homework.
6. Cold turkey on the smart phone. Get him a call/text only cheap phone for the school journey.

Rosa Fri 25-Sep-15 14:32:22

Sorry but they way that you are trying to help him so far is not working. You have tried the nice / explaining method and now you have to put your foot down. If he needs internet access for his homework then you supervise just that. Then turn the Pc off. Change the wifi passwod as been said and don't let him have access to his phone or leave him with the minimum of credit for emergency calls only. Its up to you as he can't see the wood for the trees right now.

CarrieLouise25 Fri 25-Sep-15 14:36:37

Twinkie1 - absolutely. I'm on his back to the point we talk about nothing else apart from me nagging him all evening to finish his homework. I thought it would have clicked by now, but it hasn't.

booboobeedoo - great advice, thank you. We try to have a set routine. He comes in, has something to eat, plays on his phone. Then at 5pm I go up and look through his book with him, and we work out what needs to be done, and for when etc and a plan of what he will get done that evening. Eventually when he starts and I prise the phone off him, he takes SO long. Last night he answered 2 questions in 2 hours.

Rosa - yes, you're right. Being nice isn't working, and yes supervision is necessary when he's on the internet. Tried till I'm blue in the face to explain, but now it's time for actions not words.

Thanks everyone x

Penfold007 Fri 25-Sep-15 14:45:48

You need to take some drastic steps. Homework club sounds good, put restrictions on the laptop and only allow use in the family room, change the wi-fi code and only put it on his laptop when you want him to have internet access, don't let him have the code. Take away his phone altogether. If he still doesn't do the work then he needs to accept school will sanction him. Don't cancel family plans because he has failed to manage his homework during the week etc.

CarrieLouise25 Fri 25-Sep-15 14:49:21

Penfold007 - yes, I really like the idea of homework club, as it means teacher is present, and no distractions that there are at home. It feels like every evening and every weekend is being taken over with homework (which it is).

TenForward82 Fri 25-Sep-15 18:30:38

He said it was because all he could think about was his game.

This is addictive behaviour which he is too young to recognise, so you have to do it for him. Take the phone away, now.

fluffikins Fri 25-Sep-15 19:55:30

Take the phone away, but also try the pomodoro technique for the homework.

VimFuego101 Fri 25-Sep-15 20:18:41

I would definitely go with the homework club option. I would also change the wifi password on a regular basis and only allow him to have it if he has behaved well, done his homework without complaining and complied with anything else you've asked him to do.

CarrieLouise25 Fri 25-Sep-15 20:38:17

We went straight in with the newer rules today, but enforced more strictly than before. Need to be consistent.

Put DS laptop on the kitchen table, and took phone when he came in. We wrote down all his homework (which we usually do) and I asked him to get 2 done with my supervision so I could see where his time is going.

Lots of resistance, but I know I'm doing the right thing as he failed another test today, and has to retake next week. He is such a bright lad, I can't get my head around it.

Anyways. He has done 2 homework's tonight, but he isn't happy. Then again neither am I, but that's for other reasons and the tears won't really stop at the moment.

I've set the rules on WIFI going off and bed time, and if the rules aren't stuck to, or homework isn't done then there's less time/rewards for the fun stuff.

I've also set the expectations for the weekend and getting all his homework done in time, not leaving it to the last minute.

I'm really hoping that if I keep it consistent and stick the rules I've set, it'll become the routine and in a few weeks we'll have nailed it? I don't know. I thought I was doing all these things before, but if I'm honest, I'm not very good at routine and I do love being a flexible parent. I'm sure DS picks up on any inconsistencies and takes advantage.

When he did start to see what I was getting at, he did think homework club might be a better environment for him. It's a work in progress. Isn't parenting always a work in progress?! Seems to be grin

TenForward82 Sat 26-Sep-15 11:58:59

If you aren't already, you need to take his phone off him at bedtime.

TheWoodenSpoonOfMischief Sat 26-Sep-15 12:11:55

It sounds like having 'small doses' of the game isn't enough. He keeps thinking about it and it's all he's focused on.
I think you need to talk to him about this addiction and how it's actually affecting him mentally and how it's placing limits on how he's living his life.
You can then explain why you're taking that phone off him for good and giving him a cheap non-smart phone so he can still contact you if he needs to.
I think you need to take drastic action.

CarrieLouise25 Sat 26-Sep-15 12:20:59

Hi TenForward82 - absolutely. This is the main battle, actually getting his phone off him takes ages (or feels like it takes ages) - as there's always one more thing he needs to do. 1 minute always turns into several and then I might get distracted with DD and then he takes longer - when I come back for the phone I have to stand around asking and asking until I shout and I hate it.

So last night, I didn't ask for the phone. I just told him when WIFI was going off, and I stuck to it and turned it off, then went into his room and took the phone. He was really annoyed, wanted more time, just 30 seconds, but I stuck to my guns even though I really found it hard (sorry to sound wimpish). He said he'd lose all his progress, and yes I did feel guilty. Then he started playing on another game on his laptop - out of defiance I assume - and then I told him it was bed time, and if he didn't get ready by a certain time - that time would be taken off WIFI use the next night.

If there's no set time, every night it's the same, and I can't do it anymore. Plus I feel like a pushover standing there asking and asking and not being listened to. He said he wasn't ready for it to go off, he forgot about the time, he just wanted a bit more - but I said, you only will make this mistake once. Tomorrow you'll remember when it's going off.

Seems ok this morning. But I get there's going to be some resistance and testing in the next few weeks until it becomes routine.

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