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WWYD - 13 yr old DS's obsession with YouTube/ computer etc

(19 Posts)
Pebbles574 Sun 24-Jan-16 23:37:41

DH & I are really struggling to work out what's 'reasonable' wrt computer use/ time for DS aged 13.
He's always been quite a sensitive, home- centred boy. Not into sport (tried everything with him and he gradually dropped then all as he hated them and wasn't very good at them either.
He's a creative type and in the last 12-18 months has really got completely obsessed with making Minecraft videos for YouTube.
He has his own channel and has been quite successful with one 1.2k subscribers. The 'problem' is that he seems to be so completely absorbed and passionate about it.
We're trying to have a balanced view about it, so e.g.
Pros are:
- he has found a hobby he absolutely loves and seems good at it
- he has a network of friends, real and online, who share his interest
- it's given him a bit of kudos with his school friends as previously he was just seen as a bit of a geek
- he's teaching himself all sorts of useful computing skills like graphic design packages, video editing and recording, as well as how to work and collaborate with other YouTubers
- he's making about £30 month from advertising

When he is at home it is ALL he wants to spend his time doing. If he's not recording or editing his videos then he's watching other people's videos about how they record and edit videos.
he comes out of his room to eat meals and to come with us if we insist we go somewhere, but other than that he's always back on his computer at weekends and after school.

We set rules about homework having to be done first, and that if his grades start to suffer then we will curb his time, but his report at Christmas was all As/A*s so that's not an issue.
He does a couple of clubs (music/ table tennis ) at school and is doing his Duke of Edinburgh award.

I just can't decide whether to be glad that he's found a passion, or to be worried that he is rather obsessed with this?

TrollTheRespawnJeremy Sun 24-Jan-16 23:40:18

He does sound a bit obsessed but he has plenty of other hobbies and social outlets from the sounds of things.

Encourage him to keep going out- don't lose a whole weekend to mine craft. But well done, not everyone can do what he has done and he has learned some really useful skills and life lessons on how much work you have to put in to earn £30!!

Kr1stina Sun 24-Jan-16 23:47:56

I have a ten year old minecraft obsessed son who would like to know your sons YouTube name so he can watch the videos grin

As you would expect I have no useful advice on minecraft addiction

Pebbles574 Mon 25-Jan-16 06:50:29

I think it's just because DH and I don't really 'get' that whole YouTube watching culture that we're a bit hmm about it.
We feel rather hypocritical as we're always saying to our kids that if you really want to achieve something you have to be passionate and work hard at it, but we weren't really including YouTuber in our imagined list of suitable future career options confused
He does rather seem to have a different persona when he is in his recording 'mode' - his language becomes all US slang - yo, dude, bro etc and we have to remind him that he's talking to his English family again when he emerges from his room!

NaughtToThreeSadOnions Mon 25-Jan-16 07:15:33

Ok as for the watching YouTube do you and your husband watch TV every night because this all your son is actually doing, he's watching mini shows about something he likes. My mum is in her 60's and we never had a TV growing up but she watches YouTube videos on gardening. It's just a way of skipping all the Jeremy Kyle, judge rinder big brother rubbish and watching things your actually interested in.

Now you didn't have you tuber as your list of career options, erm right so you'd only approve of certian careers for your son?! Again would tv presenter be ok?! Now yes there's stuff on YouTube that I'd hmm at and it does rather depend on which videos he's watching, there's gaming videos I watch and I go oh no can't stand that and turn off. But there are you tubers that make bloody good money

Language he's just as likely to pick that up from tv or school, I once tweeted something my teen nephew was saying and it was something like "yeah it's all gravy innt dude coz we was all hanging woznt it dude" all my friends were like never ever type something like that again and my nephew tweeted us all a reply of but they talk like that on TV shows and it's how the kids talk at school.

Time spent in bedrooms I'm pretty sure this a teenage thing there's lots of threads on here about teenagers preferring there own company. He's got clubs and eats family meals with you.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Mon 25-Jan-16 07:16:29

Well you never know he may be the next StampLongnose millionaire. I would let him do it. Dd was a bit like this at that age and now at nearly 15yo isn't so interested. Previously she had her own channel and was always making videos. I don't think she's played minecraft in weeks! It may pass.

sky1010 Mon 25-Jan-16 07:21:09

From what you have written, I don't see an obsessed person at all.

I see someone who has found something they are passionate about, is profiting off it and developing a skill set that employers will love.

Just because his passion is tech related doesn't mean it's a dangerous, brain-rotting thing that needs to be curbed.

Pebbles574 Mon 25-Jan-16 09:37:29

Thanks for these responses - this is the sort of discussion I needed to hear!

"Just because his passion is tech related doesn't mean it's a dangerous, brain-rotting thing that needs to be curbed." - I think you've hit the nail on the head there Sky - that's what we're trying to feel reassured about. There's so much in the media about all the negative effects of screen time, sedentary lifestyles, teenagers 'detaching themselves', the risk of grooming etc etc that it's easy to panic.

The problem it causes us is that we constantly have to nag him to log off, or to go and shower, or to get ready for bed - he just seems to lose track of time. Whenever we are going out, his first question is, "when will we get back?" and all he ever talks about is YouTube, YouTubers, video editing etc. I want him to enjoy it, but I'm also worried about him having unrealistic expectations. He talks about all the YouTubers who are earning millions and buying houses in California as if this is normal.
When something goes wrong on his computer and a file doesn't save, or a video doesn't upload or something he seems to get so angry and cast a cloud over the rest of the family.
I guess that's why I sometimes feel worried that it's an obsession rather than just a hobby - he seems to live and breathe it.

NaughtToThreeSadOnions I don't watch much TV, but I do have other hobbies like reading which I'm pretty obsessive about, and I use the web a lot myself, so I'm not a Luddite by any means.

What do you think are the 'minimum' rules we need to insist upon?

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Mon 25-Jan-16 12:05:37

I think rules should be he keeps his temper even if something goes wrong. And when to,d to come off for bed, shower, meal, etc he does it within five mins (to allow him some saving the game time).

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Mon 25-Jan-16 12:06:24

And homework first!

WhatsGoingOnEh Mon 25-Jan-16 12:09:33

I think it's fine. Honestly. YouTubers can earn a FORTUNE and often get offered other things - TV shows, book deals - which are not home-based or isolating.

My nearly 13y/o DS1 is equally laptop-obsessed, but isn't using it nearly so productively.

NaughtToThreeSadOnions Mon 25-Jan-16 15:56:55

The million dollar houses are a fact of YouTube the same as they are for popstars TV stars film stars it is normal. BUT as with those professions not everyone makes it but we all have those dreams especially at 13.
What I was trying to do was show you that all he's doing was watching TV. You said you don't get watching YouTube, it's just watching shows.

The having to tell him to wash eat shower just sounds like a teenager tbh. There would be something else tv, music, football, if it wasn't YouTube.
I think the rules are pretty much what they'd be for watching TV even reading a book homework first, when it's dinner time dpwn stairs before food is served or just after, he's expected to do what he's told in reasonable time and I'm just doing ..... Any longer than five minutes isn't acceptable.

There is a slight safety thing with screen time maybe that he takes a 20 minute break in 4 hours. I think that's the safety guide like for computers.

Pebbles574 Tue 26-Jan-16 11:45:07

Funnily enough there was a BBC new report about this very thing (YouTube now overtaking TV as main teenage behaviour):

I guess I'm just an old fuddy duddy and have become like my mother when she used to say, "You'll get square eyes watching the goggle box all day" grin

cdtaylornats Tue 26-Jan-16 16:47:48

If you replace all the tech speak with book, reading and writing

He spends all of his time either writing his short stories or reading about writing techniques. He has sold a couple of stories.

Doesn't sound so bad does it

Pebbles574 Tue 26-Jan-16 17:35:29

Yes, you're right - it sounds fine if you replace it with some other skill like writing, or drawing/art or photography!

I am being convinced it's fine, and I should stop stressing quite so much about it...

18yoMum Tue 26-Jan-16 18:40:39

Its absolutely normal for people his age to spend all day doing things like that- Its what they do! When we were around that age, we spent all day reading books eg. mein kampf and beauty mags, and that's all your DS is doing. There can be some weird things on youtube, but honestly, there's no need to be worried. Sometimes its best to let your son or daughter do what they want to; its THEIR childhood!

Hugs and kisses xxsmile

Travelledtheworld Tue 26-Jan-16 22:03:33

Mother of a 16 year old boy here.
He will grow out of Minecraft in a couple of years and move onto something else. This could be interesting, intellectual fun strategic war games, or Internet pornography. You need to be aware of what he is doing, who he is playing with. All the advice you have been given on Internet safety still applies.

Set rules and boundaries now and stick to them. Limit the hours on the computer and insist he does somthing else. This should include family time, no gaming during meals, some exercise etc. As he grows older negotiate round the rules, but still set them, as it will be very difficult to enforce new rules when he is older, taller and stronger.

I think the sad thing about computer obsessed boys is that for all the time they are playing online games, they are NOT doing other things which ultimately lead to them developing as well balanced young adults. These include leaving the house, using public transport, making face to face human contact, understanding body language, meeting girls, getting exercise and sunshine etc

cdtaylornats Tue 26-Jan-16 23:46:13

I think it comes down to how scared you are of the new paradigm. Tv, film, books, news, telephones are all collapsing into one device. If you force him to "go outside and do something" it wont work - when I was forced into that I took a book, he will take a tablet and sit on the grass somewhere playing with his videos.

While he is using the computer he is not drinking, not doing drugs and learning skills that will serve him better in his life than learning to throw a ball.

He will be making face to face contact at school and socialising there especially if the other kids know his work. Amazingly enough there are geeky girls too. If he lives in the UK he's probably getting more UV from his screens than he would outside.

Playing games involves teamwork, problem solving and getting to know people who may be on the other side of the world. I play online games and the group I play with regularly includes a guy I know from University, a dentist in Australia, a lawyer in Washington, a high school kid in Canada and a joiner from Maidstone. The chances are most of us would not have spoken without the games.

If he wanted to be a sportsman at the top of his sport that takes obsession too. The best job you ever have is one you're obsessed with. I work with computers and its easy to get caught up in a problem and not notice the time.

Pebbles574 Wed 27-Jan-16 09:58:46

Thanks - useful to have some different perspectives from people with older kids too.
Travelledtheword - your last paragraph basically summarises all the things I worry about, but even without computers I just don't think he would ever be that sort of 'hanging around down the park with friends' sort of kid.
I'm just trying to tell myself that achieving some balance is the key. He goes to a co-ed school, and does a lot of music/drama, so mixing with girls isn't a problem, and although he doesn't get a lot of exercise/outdoor time he does walk to and from school (over a mile each way) several times a week.
cdtaylornats - you're right about the global friends thing - he plays online with people in the US, New Zealand, Turkey. It's not all gaming chat either, I've seen him discussing things like US gun laws/Donald Trump etc with his US friends.
I guess this is the 21st century equivalent of pen friends!

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