Is Video Addiction Really an Addiction?
We think the reason our eighth grader is suddenly doing poorly in school is because of the amount of time he spends playing video games. Is there such a thing as addiction to video games? How can we get him to study more? – Concerned
The American Psychological Association doesn’t believe that there is enough evidence yet to formally consider too much gaming a disorder. There is wide-spread agreement, however, that spending an excessive amount of time playing electronic games results in behavior similar to that of addicts of many substances.
According to the Center for On-Line Addiction, the signs of such an addiction are:
• Playing for increasing amount of time
• Thinking about gaming during other activities
• Gaming to escape from real-life problems, anxiety, or depression
• Lying to friends and family to conceal gaming
• Feeling irritable when trying to cut down on gaming
The question isn’t so much whether or not excessive video gaming is an addiction, but whether or not it is affecting your son’s school work. And this sounds like a definite possibility. First of all, determine when and how long he plays these games. Then set time limits on game playing. In addition, set a rule that the game playing device must be in a family room so that you can clearly see when he is playing video games. It is also sensible to establish the rule that homework must be done and inspected by you before play begins each day.
If your son reacts violently to any suggestion of limiting his gaming time, then there may be a more serious problem that requires professional help.
Paying for Grades: Does It Work?
We pay our middle-schoolers $10 for every A and $5 for every B. Now their grades are mostly A’s. Anything wrong with this? – Pay Up
There are pros and cons on the issue of pay for grades; however, in your household, it seems to be working, since everyone is getting the results they want.
If children buy into getting better grades because they want a reward (money, TV time, a cell phone), one positive outcome is increasing their skill in one or more subjects. This can lead to a feeling of accomplishment and a genuine desire to do well in school and an appreciation of learning.
Rewarding children for grades can backfire if children already have a desire to learn. They may begin to think that they are working harder primarily to get a reward rather than to do well in school. However, if children have little or no desire to succeed in school, rewards may get them on the path to doing well in school.
One caution: If parents expect rewards to improve grades, they must offer rewards for grades that the children can reasonably be expected to achieve. A child with good basic math skills could be offered rewards for A and B grades. However, the child with weak math skills should not be expected to get more than C or possibly B grades.