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Peer pressure about access to computer games is making home life miserable.

(9 Posts)
user1475248872 Fri 30-Sep-16 17:02:58

My two sons aged 8 and 10 have lots of 'nice' friends but I am increasingly finding that they are being pressured by them and being made to feel stupid. This is a particular problem with computer games. When they were younger I tried to hold off getting them any tablets or consoles, but I found that the more I kept them away from electronics the more obsessive they became, particularly when visiting friends who had access to computer games. They were also being left out of conversations and friendship bonds. So in the end I caved in and bought them tablets and then later, an Xbox. It has become a constant battle and I feel exhausted by the daily arguments. I try to restrict the amount of time that they are on screens limiting it to an hour, or saying no games in the week during term time, but whatever I do the boys never seem to feel that they have had enough and will sneak onto games whenever they get a chance. To make matters worse, their friends in the main seem to be allowed to go on their Xbox's with unlimited access. We are really aware of this as they all have headsets and can chat to each other while online, so we can clearly see who is 'on' whenever we turn the Xbox on. This leads me to feeling really depressed and guilty. I hate to see the boys spending their lives on screens for hours and hours, rather than following other pursuits, but their friends are all now so much more skilled at these games due to the hours that they spend online. They tease my sons about not being very good and boast about how long they are allowed to be on screens themselves. I find that this goes along side other boasting about being great at sport, maths, spelling, reading... anything really. I can see that my sons judge themselves to be inferior to their friends. This is particularly the case with my 10 year old who described himself as being mediocre at everything. I have always taught them to be modest but when I see how boastful and confident their friends are I feel angry and sad. They go to a small school, single form entry and so there are only limited numbers of boys that they can be friends with. I feel like I don't know how to deal with the situation and that I am fighting a losing battle and making my children less popular by making rules that none of the other parents seem to have. Am I being too strict? How should I deal with this?

Tanaqui Fri 30-Sep-16 18:11:12

I don't know but it doesn't seem to get any easier I am afraid...do they have any non electric hobbies? Music or sport? As they get older the children with more real life interests do seem to look down a bit on the obsessive gamers, but that does depend on having a genuine interest in something else.

AnyTheWiser Fri 30-Sep-16 18:23:14

Wjat about hobbies/clubs/groups outside school they could join? Cubs, hockey/rugby/soccer clubs, woodcraft, rambling, choir or music group etc- they'd be making friends with people that don't view life through a screen!
I would also look at what you could do to boost their self-confidence. I doubt he's mediocre at most things, just not boastful, as you say.
If he tries lots of activities/different groups, he'll find something he's good at, and feel better about himself. Lots of boys like martial arts, they teach good discipline, or playing an instrument, which can build physical strength, as well as increase focus, and good teamwork (if they have an instrument you can play in a group).
Find things you admire him for and focus on those. Children with a strong sense of self and high esteem care less about what peers think/say. They're more resilient.

Sunnydawn Fri 30-Sep-16 18:33:13

I have two boys, and absolutely hear what you're saying. We ended up with an Xbox and a tablet, which they share, and they are both on them right now!

I have a fairly set routine after school, that includes a lot of clubs and time for homework and music practice, and ds2 is sent upstairs to read half an hour before bedtime.

I figure that, if they want to spend the rest of the time on FIFA (DS1 hmm), or watching cure cat videos (DS2 hmm) then it is only the same as us watching telly after school.

If a couple of years, you may be relieved you have the Xbox, as the boys in ds1's secondary school tend to socialise online, rather than in person, and I prefer the whole FIFA to bitching on Snapchat, which is what the girls do...

Sunnydawn Fri 30-Sep-16 18:37:22

Confidence - boys that age are often mean. Really mean. Your two need to fine a "thing" that they enjoy and are relatively good at to build their confidence. Then it is easier to brush off the whole "rubbish at football" etc thing.

It is a perfect age to try new hobbies. Music, skateboarding, chess, cooking, climbing, art, riding, tennis.. all hobbies that my friends' dcs are trying at the moment.

beatricequimby Fri 30-Sep-16 19:52:48

I think that boys of that age aren't very tactful and what seems like boasting to an adult may just seem like telling it straight to a preteen boy.

You are unlucky in not having any families around with similar views about gaming. All you can realistically do is encourage other hobbies. What sort of things are they into?

JustDanceAddict Fri 07-Oct-16 09:40:18

I hear you & it only gets worse. DS (12) moaning he didn't get FIFA 17 on day of release. It's £50 and he doesn't have that money and I'm not going to shell out.
As long as homework gets done to a reasonable standard am ok with him gaming or whatever afterwards, but I do chuck him off after a while. We only got him a PS4 last year for Xmas, we had a Wii for years.

flupcake Wed 07-Dec-16 13:24:37

I don't see computer games as any different to watching tv, so they are allowed screen time after school, but yes we do limit it otherwise they would be on it for hours.
They do moan when it gets turned off. DS (8) went through a phase of having tantrums when it was turned off, so one weekend we banned screentime altogether. It was hard work (for us!) but that seemed to do the trick as he has been much better now. Occasionally if he has had a meltdown about it being turned off then he loses his screen time the following day - and we remind him about the time he lost screen time all weekend - that soon sorts him out! :-)

Yes to encouraging other interests or sports. I think boys can be quite cruel this age with a lot of talk who has the latest games / trainers / gadgets and there seems to be a lot of boasting about who is the best at everything, I call it the 'alpha male' behaviour, it's all bravado and showing off really. So you have to build their confidence in other ways.

flupcake Wed 07-Dec-16 13:40:31

Oh and look for an activity or sport where they'll have some male role models - getting praise from a coach or teacher (outside of school) is brilliant for boosting their confidence.
Also could you explain to their teachers that they aren't feeling very confident about their abilities? DS was very good at hiding his lack of self confidence and the teachers hadn't realised until I told them, they were quite surprised. We've done a lot of work on boosting his opinion of himself.
Maybe your DSs see gaming as an easy way to get better at something, if you know what I mean, they are equating it with self worth due to the messages they are getting from peers.

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