The Xbox

Earlier this year, something new came into our house. It wasn’t something I wanted, but I felt I couldn’t stop it. I wish now I had. Yes, we have an Xbox in our lives.

My younger son always has a lot of money at the start of the year. He has his birthday in October and struggles to spend any money before Christmas when, inevitably, he gets yet more money. Because relatives find it hard to buy presents for tween boys. So he decided he wanted to buy an Xbox. I understood his reasoning – they’d had the Wii since 2008 and it had got to the point where new games weren’t coming out on the Wii any more. If they wanted to play the latest games, they needed something else. So he bought the Xbox.

It has taken over our lives and not in a good way. The boys spend all of their time in my younger son’s bedroom on the Xbox. The only good thing is that it’s brought them closer together again. But there are many bad things. They’ve forgotten what they used to do with their lives. They don’t want to do anything but play on the Xbox. When they talk, they just talk about games. They don’t go outside or run around as much as they used to. They get grumpy and argumentative when they’re away from it for too long.

A month ago they discovered Xbox Live and the head-set and it got a little bit worse.

It has to stop.

We put time restrictions on the Xbox. When the time was finished, they watched ‘Stampy’ Minecraft videos on YouTube. I told them video watching should be included in their time restriction, but there was no way of policing it. They started pushing the boundaries again and spending too long on it.

It all came to a head, as it was always going to, yesterday. My younger son had a day of football training. He’s done football training in the holidays before. He really enjoys it – and it improves his game. A real win-win. It was a grey morning with the threat of rain. He didn’t want to go to football and get wet and muddy. Wet and muddy is a part of football. This isn’t my son speaking. This is a different boy whose brain has been addled by Xbox.

There were other things too. The way he’d moaned the whole time when we went out for a few hours with his grandparents, auntie, uncle and baby cousin – all people he loves to spend time with. All he wanted to do was go home. He’s started saying he doesn’t want to go to his tutor too. There’s ‘too much homework’ apparently. This from the boy who has always had incredible reserves of motivation for academic work. The boy who will be sitting his grammar school exam in less than four months time.

So Daddy pulled the plug and hid the leads. And I’m left with two angry and depressed boys who will speak only to each other.

When they stop being angry and depressed and can learn to handle their addiction, they might get the leads back.

Xbox, Minecraft, sons, 365

Author: Sarah Mummy

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36 Comments

  1. I think you did the right thing. A similar thing has been needed at a nephews house where he wasn’t even leaving his room to come down to say hello to us and had started asking why he couldn’t eat his dinner in his room. The x box “live” bit seemed to be the bit that made it all a lot more addictive.

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    • That sounds serious! My boys don’t come out to say hello when Daddy gets home from work at the moment, which isn’t good. The ‘live’ thing definitely does make it worse.

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  2. Strangely enough (!!) we have been having the X-box discussion. The boys want one. I do not. My ten year old nephew has the X-box and the headset and he is on it constantly and I worry that it will take over our lives. We have the Wii U but like you, the boys are bored of it now and were moaning that a new football game is only available on X-box. I have put it off and I may put it off for a while longer having read this. Good luck xx

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    • Good luck with putting it off! My boys complained that games were on the Wii U, but not the normal Wii, but somehow an Xbox became the thing to have. x

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  3. This is so true! We have the same problem. It used to be about the Wii but wasn’t too bad. Now it’s about our ipads as there is easier access to games and they can play it anywhere.
    At Easter I banned my them totally and explained it was because I was fed up of them complaining every time we went out. They didn’t even want to go to the park. It felt as though they didn’t know who they were anymore. The week ban was great they started playing again and after they were allowed only 1/2 each on it a day. It’s slipped though and they are on it longer again and becoming obsessed again so we have to go back to banning.
    My tip would be to move the Xbox you your living room. Our Wii is always in ours and this makes it easier to police (peace and quiet will come… when they’ve left home). Also have a total ban on it during holidays, sounds weird but that’s when they should do most living. Perhaps say a weekend day is Xbox day. We wish these things were never invented.

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    • Us too! We had the Wii in the lounge in our old house and I was quite keen that we didn’t have consoles in our lounge in this house. Be careful what you wish for… It was a bad decision. Totally recognise what you’re saying about the kids not even wanting to go out. That’s not a good thing. Being hooked on these games really changes their behaviour 🙁

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  4. Oh it is so hard isnt it! With Max I insist that every day we get out for a couple of hours of fresh air (or at least to the library and out for lunch on soggy days!), and then try and limit his screen time a bit- but as you say, if I get him off Minecraft, he then watches videos (Stampy popular here too!) and if I stop him watching the videos he then draws levels on paper….which I guess is better than screen time, but he literally thinks of nothing but video games from dawn til dusk!

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    • Love that he draws levels on paper! We go out for walks or anything for a change of scene and fresh air, but all my son talks about while we’re out is Minecraft. He loves having me to listen, but I have no idea what he’s on about!

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  5. Sorry to hear you’ve been having such a tough time all because of the Xbox. I think you’ve done the right thing. I’ve got a little chappy who’s a little too keen on all things computer-games related as well, and I know the day is fast approaching when I’m going to have to pull the plug too. Good luck! It’s a battle we’re all having to fight these days. All the best, Bonny

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    • Thanks very much! It certainly is a battle we all have to fight. Good luck to you too! Nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand.

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  6. We’ve had xBox for a while now. 3 boys, Teen, Tween and 9 year old, all enjoy it very much. The Teen became very quickly addicted to it, and about 3 years ago we banned any electronic games during the week. Our perfectly reasonable children were getting aggressive, rushing homework to play on the machine and generally forgetting any family interaction. So we put a blanket ban on it during the week, because to enforce a time limit per night meant that the inevitable happened once the half hour was up, and it caused more arguments. Our kids put up a fight, they moaned and grizzled for about 5 days, and we compromised on Friday, Sat and Sunday. This is because a lot of their sporting activities take place at the weekend so we knew that their days would be naturally broken up. And do you know, it’s worked. They have a fair amount of screen time, and we relax the rules during half term (although it’s back to a negotiated hourly screen time during long holidays). Their friends come over and they play for a while and then it’s my kids that encourage them to go out and jump on the trampoline etc. And my friends have started the same restrictions. Once the kids get it into perspective, then they realise the ‘danger zones’ and how they change. I can’t say it’s made for a calmer house, but it’s one less thing we battle over. Hope this helps!

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    • That’s really helpful, thanks. Great to get the perspective of someone who’s been there, done it and made things better. My sons can’t yet see that their addiction and their behaviour is a problem. They can’t see that it’s ruling their lives. They just think we’re ruining their lives by taking it away from them.

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  7. I think you did exactly the right thing. I’ve the same problem here and I’m heart broken, because as a lone parent of a severely disabled daughter, I haven’t got the time or the resources to deal with the fall out if I did it to my 13 year old (who also has aspergers)

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    • That must be a real challenge! It’s hard enough to police when there’s two of you and you can rationalise with them.

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  8. It’s so hard, but it was done for the right reasons. They will eventually get over it and hopefully use it less. To be honest it’s not just children that get addicted to them, my son in law to be has to be turfed off his too.

    X x

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    • Oh dear, I’ve heard of grown men getting addicted too. I must say I was addicted to Tetris for a while and used to fall asleep seeing those little shapes falling down in front of my eyes.
      I think they will get over it and learn to control it, but we may have some difficult days ahead until they do!

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  9. I feel your pain. We have to strictly limit it here too which is easier said than done!
    If Isaac has more than an hour his mood changes and he becomes aggressive and frustrated so we are really strict with him. With the teens it’s harder but it really affects their moods too.
    The main problem is all their friends play it online too, so this is where their social lives are – not at the park. When we tell them to switch off they are straight on their phones playing games there too. It was so bad at one point we took the phones away too.
    Now we have strict rules for them too!
    It’s not just kids though ……hubby played for a couple of hours this week and bit my head off when I asked him to come off!

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    • It’s amazing how it affects they moods – they really do get very grumpy and aggressive. When my mum used to look after them, they used to go on games straight from school. It made my mum’s life easier and she was able to make the tea etc in peace, but when I got home they were a nightmare to deal with!
      We don’t have phones as an issue yet, but I’m sure that isn’t far behind.

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  10. Sometimes you really have to be a mean mummy.its very difficult when the half term weather is so awful, but it has to be done!

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    • It certainly does! Thanks very much.

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  11. As with all things to do with children it’s a question of balance and only you can decide what’s best for your children and family. I do feel that children nowadays seem to have access to technology far too early and the problem is compounded by the increasing reliance on the use of devices in many schools. The best limiter within my own family has been the fact that they have had to share both access to technology and use of communal space; also slow and unreliable internet provision has helped enormously! We often have days when we ban all devices and have always had technology free periods after school until around 7 except for homework; I also abide by these rules. At the end of the day you are the parent and you make the rules; they may protest but they will adapt. Just make sure they don’t start sleeping over at friends’ houses simply so they can use devices there!

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    • For a long time we only had one computer and the Wii, but now we have the desktop PC, my laptop, my younger son’s laptop and the Xbox! I like technology free time until homework is done. I’ve been trying to introduce that one, but without much luck. The boys seem to respond better to Daddy laying down the rules, but of course he isn’t home at that time of day. My son did go round to his friend’s house and play the other day – he thought it was OK because it PC rather than Xbox and a slightly different version of the game!

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  12. Wow hats off Sarah! These things are most definitely addictive. We only got a Wii at Xmas and haven’t used it that much. But the Minecraft! Don’t object to the game itself but it really impacts on their lifestyle. Yesterday both my son and grandson in dark room playing on separate computers together. There’s no eye contact and no physical interaction. Are we all becoming like the Zager and Evans song 2525?

    Mind you, I they prob feel the same way about my blogging habits!! x

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    • Agree with you on the Minecraft! As games go, it’s not a bad one at all, but they just spend too long playing it and thinking about it. I wonder whether my kids think I spend too long on computers too with the blogging and social media, but they know it gives them little perks and that it helps with my career, so I kind of get away with it. (And I don’t cry to get home to my blog when we’re out for the day!)

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  13. Well done. I have five kids and a wii. They really loved it at first, but now it’s not a big deal. We have more of a problem with one son playing on his computer all the time. They do forget that they used to play outside etc, before the games take over. We’ve done a similar thing and took his computer away until all his assignments are done.

    Thanks for dropping by my blog! Have a great weekend!

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    • You’re very welcome! I think the Wii seems easier to police and easier for them to play with sometimes and not others. Very sensible to take computer away until assignments are done!

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  14. The Xbox is the only console we haven’t got. I think it’s been a part of growing up here as my oldest had a playstation from aged 4. I don’t need to police what they do as they have the respect to follow my rules (actually they just don’t want to suffer the consequences).

    At a friends house they were playing something on my “not even allowed to watch people playing” list and my son refused to watch, despite the fact that a 4 yr old was playing and the boys promised not to tell me.

    Hopefully taking the leads is the start of them thinking about what they want.

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    • Am impressed that your boys respect and follow your wishes! To be fair, it’s probably hard to compare my boys with yours, as I know your eldest always follows your rules, and your younger boys are much younger than my boys. (And I know my daughter follows my rules.) My son is always begging for a 15 game and I’ve said no as he is still only 12 – and his brother is 10.

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  15. Ooh, good luck with all of it! I’d have done exactly the same with my 2 if this had all kicked off.

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    • Thanks very much, Izzie 🙂

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  16. This is a really interesting post. My boys are only 3 and 1 so we don’t have this battle yet but I do dread those days. I am quite strict with screen time at the moment and so I really notice my 3 year olds change in behaviour when we do watch TV for an hour or so.

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    • It’s amazing who it affects them at such a young age. It just seems to take over their minds and affect their behaviour. Good luck with keeping it in check for as long as possible!

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  17. We were given an XBox last year and to be honest I would rather we hadn’t. What we did do right from the start was set ground rules and if these were broken then they knew the box would go. As a result there hasn’t been too much arguing between the boys or too much time spent on it. They know that we will remove it if that happens. It’s on the living room TV so easy to see if they are playing are not which helps.

    Maybe now the leads are gone it is time to talk to your boys and explain that when they are grown up enough to respect any rules you set then they can have it back. Give them the chance to prove they can do this and explain why you are unhappy with excess use.

    Good luck xx

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  18. We resisted the xbox recently. H was wanting to buy one with his own money. We steered him away from it (for now at least). Screen time is an issue and it does seem to impact on other things.

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  19. This is exactly the kind of thing which goes on in our house. When I mentioned it on Twitter recently, I got a number of tweets back from people who are anti policing the ‘screen time’ and suggested that I just let them monitor it themselves. I already know what would happen – they would be on it ALL the time and that’s not healthy or what I want for them. I don’t think it helps that I spend so much time on screens but it’s interesting to see what they do do, when it’s taken away. They’re still to young in my opinion, not to have guidance from their parents on what is/isn’t good for them. Mine are not allowed any kind of screen in their room as I feel this is too big a temptation. Once they hit 16, I’ll think again. Interesting post. Hope you get it sorted.

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  20. This totally resonates with me. My two are younger but the Xbox has started to creep in. I limit it massively so they only have it for one hour a day at the weekend, but in all the long days in between, it’s all the oldest can think about it – when he can play the Xbox again. A few months ago I banned it all together and it made a big difference, and I think I’m reaching that point again. You’re so right how it makes all other things they used to enjoy, including seeing beloved relatives, seem black and white compared to the technicolour of the games. I hate it! Great post, Sarah. x

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