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Homeschoolers Addicted to Video Games

20 April 2009 6 Comments

596688_concentrationWant to push a hot homeschooling button? Just bring up video games, and addiction. Many parents worry that their child is “addicted”, and many claim that if they don’t put limitations on their children, they will become addicted. Other parents feel that letting kids play a lot of video games is fine so long as they have a varied and interested in life, and others think that playing video games all the time is totally OK no matter what. Who is right? Are homeschoolers more or less likely to be addicted to video games?

This is a question that laces a lot of the video game debates. My argument has always been that video games are not the issue, and that whether or nor a child becomes addicted has to do with their bio-chemistry, family dynamics, and their underlying feeling of personal worth. It’s completely possible for a child to play video games a lot, yet be fulfilled and happy, and another child play video games for only a short time per day, and be “addicted”. How much a child plays, or even how much a child *wants* to play, isn’t a top indicator of addiction. There is a lot more to it.

Check out this article about video game addiction. And check out this article about the specific signs of addiction.

In the latter article, I’d like to point out the clear distinction between a child’s indication of addiction and an adult’s. The list for children is entirely related to school performance. In other words, this list might not be a video game addiction, but rather, using video games as an escape from the suckiness of a life that is nothing but school.

The adult list, however is a more telling list of indications; not eating, not relating to people, irritable when not playing video games, apathy towards life in general. Those are true signs of addiction.

However, if you notice, there is only one very small indication that involves the actual playing of video games as the cause or the symptom to video game addiction.

This isn’t about video games. This is bigger than that.

If a child is truly addicted to video games, simply taking them away or limiting them will not solve this problem any more than taking credit cards away from a compulsive buyer will solve the problem. Because it’s not about video games.

If a child is not addicted to video games, then there’s not a problem, right? It simply a matter of better time management. It’s still not about video games.

Now, this isn’t to say that we should just let our kids do whatever they want. That’s not a solution either. What we should be doing is figuring out what the real problem is underneath it all and addressing that.

When a homeschool kid plays more video games than we like, it is not appropriate to use the same gauge as school kids’ parents to assess whether our children are addicted. Most likely, they are not addicted, simply super duper into video games. Can we make that distinction? Or is our own entrapment in school-think keeping us from being able to take a step back and look at what’s really going on?

In any case, we can’t assume that playing a lot of video games means something is wrong with our kids. If there’s something wrong, even if it’s an addiction, it’s a family dynamic issue, a relationship issue, or a bio-chemical issue, not a video game issue. As homeschoolers, we have the time and flexibility to enjoy video games, even a lot of video games, in a healthy, collective way, and to deal with the video game issue for what it really is.

Related posts:

  1. Video Games and Cocaine
  2. Playing Video Games with Our Kids - Does It Make a Difference?
  3. Video Games Are Not the Issue
  4. Video Games Makes Kids Anti Social? Maybe Not
  5. Games Unit Study


  • TheOrganicSister said:

    Good post. I agree, it’s not the video games. VG can be a symptom of something deeper. Not to say they always are. Some kids just like VG. My DS definitely loves VG. So does my DH. Sometimes they play ALOT. Other times they won’t touch it for days. The only time it bothers me is when I’m in a bad mood. lol When that happens I know I need to address my problems, not theirs. :)


    TheOrganicSister’s last blog post: Sold!

  • silvermine said:

    How come no one ever says kids have an addiction to running, or playing board games? When did having fun become a bad thing?

  • Luke Holzmann said:

    I completely agree. The pastimes we gravitate toward are indications of something else. Escapism can take many, many forms.


    Luke Holzmann’s last blog post: The Cliff and the Tightrope

  • J. Anne Huss said:

    I agree with Silvermine, why are lots of video games “dangerous” and lots of reading reading isn’t? Personally, my son asks me all sorts of questions that came to him when he was playing video games. Perhaps society still doesn’t “get” the computer nerd as a child.

    Sure, they’re fine when they are all grown up and making billions, but a computer nerd child is just wrong to some, I guess. I encourage video games becasue it presents situations that he’ll never encounter and I know that he is learning things, just like he would be if he was reading.

    And he’s a smart kid, skipped two grades in math, reads way above grade level, and is about to start year two of Japanese (he’s 12) because Anime cartoons got him interested. Heck, two girls that live behind me are addicted to horses - they ride all day long, where does that fall on the addiction scale?

    J. Anne Huss’s last blog post: Jul 4, Middle School Physics

  • concerned parent said:

    I have a son in grade 5 who truly has addiction traits. He comes by it genetically and also has a mood disorder/ learning disabilities. He is also very persuasive and can rationalize circles around me when it comes to playing computer games. We will have to battle the addictions as a family (I can’t seem to quit smoking and the more I try, the more I smoke). He then rationalizes that since I am “indulging” in my addiction when I go outside for my smokes, he should be allowed to play computer games for his addiction.

    Clearly I need to deal with my addictions too, but since he struggles with inattention all day at school, and then doesn’t want to do his homework (or learning that he missed in school all day), I am considering homeschooling.

    Is this a bad idea given our addictions? Should we both seek treatment first before I even dare have him at home, close to the computer all day? The school refuses to accomodate or recognize any need for monitoring his production in school (he just daydreams and gets his name on the board for not paying attention). I refuse to be the parent of a functional illiterate! He is capable of so much more when he is prompted and kept on track during reading or math problems. If he stays in the school system much longer he will just be left behind. And this in the year 2010! Any thoughts on my dilemma?

  • Lily said:

    Great post, I so agree that school going children are often, “…using video games as an escape from the suckiness of a life that is nothing but school.”

    Couldn’t have put it better!

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