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Need the wisdom of Mnsetters re hwk study, revision and time spent on technology pls

(6 Posts)
JumblyGirl Mon 16-May-16 20:28:11

Not sure if this is in the right topic but dh and I are having a disagreement tonight and I would like to solicit the advice of Mnsetters who have been there and gone before us ... .

Do any of you have any experience of removing lap-top/Ipod etc from a child because they aren't doing well academically and the child consequently spending more time on revision and hwk?

DD (12 yrs) is in her first year of a quite traditional, academic secondary school in northern Europe. So far she hasn't done particularly well in her end of term exams. Out of 9 subjects she has passed 5, nearly failed 2 and failed 2. Strictly speaking, the end of year exams for the first year don't really count towards anything, but the end of year exams in the second year determine whether you go in to a more academic or vocational stream.

We have an agreement in place that she can go on her lap top and Ipod on a school night, but only once her hwk is finished and for not more than one hour. (She is also allowed 20 mins to relax straight after school when she can have a drink and snack and check messages on her IPod.) She is then allowed 3 hrs of screen time a day at weekends. (That may seem a lot but she is an only child and screen time includes Ipod, lap-top and the tv we watch alone and together as a family.) This agreement has been difficult to police, has caused a lot of arguments and basically dh and I have been far too soft about it. Anyway, she consistently exceeds the allowed hrs and doesn't seem to have any self control when it comes to the lap-top in particular. She would happily play games on it for hour after after after hour if not prevented from doing so.

She is doing her hwk, but basically coasting quite a lot, doing the minimum in terms of effort but she seems to think that this is sufficient.

Btw it was dh's idea to buy dd a lap-top. I was not convinced it was the right thing to do.

Anyway - to get to our specific question (sorry this is so long!) - dd has four weeks until her end of year exams. She is constantly spending too long on the lap top and not enough time on her revision. The ratio is probably about 1 hr of hwk to 4 or 5 hours of lap-top. We have told her that in order to get better results than last year then she needs to put more work in!

I want to take the lap top and Ipod away for a month and ration it out for the odd hour here and there at weekends once she has done enough revision and earned her technology time.

Dh is not convinced that this is a good idea. He thinks that we could take the technology away and dd would look around for other things to waste her time on and still not revise! He thinks that, particularly as the exams don't count for much this year, we should step back and let her fall on her own sword and fail her exams and learn from the experience. (Although this would mean she would have a lot of catching up to do in her second year of secondary.)

I think that, as she has so little self control, she needs us adults to intervene and take the technology away to allow her the space to focus on her revision without the constant lure and distraction of computer games. Particularly in light of the fact that we have drawn up contracts, had endless discussions, encouraged her to show us that she is limiting her screen time herself a bit more, all without success.

Which of us is right please? (And thank you to anyone who has read this far!)

Sadusername Mon 16-May-16 21:06:09

My gut reaction is to side with you. Screens can have an attraction for some people which is very difficult to resist. Luckily my dc's hAve not been drawn, like the proverbial moth, to the light to computer screens, but I think for some brain types it can be very alluring. I hear some real horror stories from parents of young people, who show signs of being so addicted to their on-screen activities that parents are too scared to withdraw it. I doubt if she will have the strength to choose revision over screen time. Do you know what she is doing online? I think there can be a physiological addiction with computer games, social media etc. if you withdrew computer time it seems very unlikely that your dd would suddenly begin to distract herself from homework by other means such as knitting, colouring, exercising or whatever.
Maybe offer 30 minutes screen for 1 hour revision.
Oh and keep a united front as parents......

JumblyGirl Tue 17-May-16 08:18:21

Thank you Sadusername.

Judging from the way dd protests when we threaten to take it away, I do think there is an element of addiction in there, or there would be if we let it persist. I hasten to add that dd is also very involved in a challenging sport four times a week and has a close group of friends whom she sees regularly, and we do know what she is doing on-line and monitor it all v carefully, so it is not as though she is huddled alone in her room day after day playing games on-line because we would never allow that. But tbh, the graphics and detail is so good nowadays that if I were 12 yrs old, I would find it very difficult to tear myself away too. It is all so tempting.

The other thing I object to is that everything is there at the touch of a button with very little effort or creativity involved on the part of the child. Admittedly, I am sure the development of 3D skills and manipulation of shapes or whatever may come in useful for some jobs in the future, but in a game such as Mine Craft a whole different world opens up to a child with very little input from them. It is too easy! And everything in rl then, comparatively, becomes a chore!

I still can't decide what is for the best. I like your "bargaining idea" though and yy to a united front from dh and me!

Ladymuck Tue 17-May-16 09:09:07

Have you looked at programs which time-limit access such as Qustodio? My relationship with my screen addict improved when the tech limited the time by itself - so I don't have to turf him off the pc, he has to come and ask me if he wants extra time. To be honest, it is hard to expect a 12 yo to automatically exercise the degree of self-control, especially as if much of the time, you are "soft".

Does she know how to revise, and in particular how to revise actively? Working on making quizzes, games etc may attract her interest.

I agree that year 1 exams are not make and break, expecially for humanities and creative subjects. However for maths, languages and science, the knowledge builds on what has come before, so I would encourage her to spend her efforts here.

eyebrowse Tue 17-May-16 09:26:59

Sometimes they need the internet for studying so might not help to take it away completely

JumblyGirl Tue 17-May-16 09:39:24

Ladymuck that is a fantastic suggestion and no - we haven't - but I will certainly look in to it now. Thank you.

Totally agree with you about the maths, lang and sciences too and making revision a more attractive (and do-able) prospect.

Eyebrowse yes that is what dd tells us, but it is very difficult to police and it always seems to lead to more game playing.

So far that's one in favour of a total ban (with weekend rationing) and two in favour of a more nuanced approach. Thank you all.

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