This has been a challenging school year for me thus far, for a weird reason: World of Warcraft. Not that I’m playing. My kids are playing. They both have accounts—that they pay for—and they are both spending hours and hours every week online, slaying monsters, completing quests, laughing, and having fun.
As a children’s writer and someone who’s chosen not to have a TV in the house for the past 20+ years, this disturbs me greatly.
How does such a thing happen, you ask? The problem is…not really a problem. That is, the kids have been given permission to play computer games without regulation as long as they’re getting chores done, logging half an hour of exercise a day, staying current on homework, and getting good grades. And the problem is that they’re doing it. And they’re seeing friends, playing Magic the Gathering at lunch, and participating in various clubs and after-school activities, so I don’t have an excuse to kick them off their machines.
Yes, this decision to let them have unlimited computer time is a slight point of contention in our household, but I can’t argue with the results. When I ask them to get off and help set the table, they do so with (usually) good grace. When they miss chores, they lose computer privileges the next day with few complaints. And the chores get done. Where we used to have arguing and conflict, now we have clear expectations, no reminders, no nagging, and simple consequences. And both kids are happy.
So what’s the problem? My kids are spending five million freaking hours on the computer every day!!!!
Not that I’d exaggerate. Much. I just keep telling myself that this is a good problem to have….