My Battle with King Video


My Battle with King Video

by Justin Travers

Video is King.  So is the computer. The iPodtouch.   The TV.  The cellphone.  Movies and TV and video, oh my!   I fear that it is a form of pollution.  It is deteriorating Zack’s brain.

But wait —  I really do mean it.  I mean, I know that any single TV show isn’t such a big deal. I know that one videogame is not going to kill my kid.  But if I let Zack have all the video he wanted, that’s all he would do.  And so, I’ve decided to do something about it.

This is very hard.  There are a thousand problems that come up when I attempt to limit Zack’s video.  Let’s say that I say: “Okay, only 1 hour of video per day.”  (Gee, I feel like a permissive sap just saying that!)   Let’s see what happens.

So, he gets on the computer and doesn’t get off after an hour.

I say, “Put a sticky note” on your computer to tell when you are done.  He forgets the note.  Or when he puts one up, why do I feel that  the starting time isn’t quite right?

He’s done with his hour.  He’s done with his homework.  He goes to his friend’s house to play.  What do they play?  You guessed it.  And for how long?

Different day.  He’s done with his one hour.  Then I see him on the computer again later in the day.  Why are you on the computer?  “I’m just syncing my ipod”, “I’m just checking my email”, “I’m just…” “I’m just…” Well, I’M just ready totoss the computer out of the window!

Okay.  So this isn’t working. What do I do?  I know!  I’ll have him earn his computer time!   For every hour of constructive work you do – I don’t care what it is, as long as involves something that will build skills in some way – you’ll get a full hour of computer.   How about that?   Then we both win.  Oh, he was so into that idea.  And I was ready to trade all that computer time for all that creative work.  So how did it work?

Zack starts out reading.  Great!  He reads for an hour.  And then on the computer.  Then he’s off after an hour. “How about you start your homework project?”  Zack complies.   He spends an hour on his homework.  Then back on the computer.  Off again after an hour.  More homework.

I did it!  This is working so well!  Oh how clever I am.  Yes, he’s on that computer for longer than I want.  But he’s doing more homework than he has ever done before!

“Zack, let me take a look at your homework before you turn it in tomorrow.”  Zack shows me his work.  I look at it.  I read his “essay”.  I look at the drawings that accompany the essays.  “Oh my God,” I think to myself.  “This is the most pathetic pile of poop that I’ve ever experienced”, I continued to think to myself.  Except, I didn’t think “pathetic pile of poop”.  It was more like a “shabby shower…”

Okay. So I’m not so clever after all.  It became clear that Zack was simply going through the motions of doing “constructive” work.  It became very clear that Zack is so obsessed with his computer games and youtube and email and movies and…Ack! he’s not even old enough to get onto Facebook!   He’s so obsessed with this stuff that nothing else matters.

I thought about what happened last winter.  (You know, when there used to be snow.)  It snowed a lot.  I carved out a igloo of sorts in the big pile of snow that we made from shoveling and reshoveling and reshoveling the driveway.  (Zack helped. Under threat of  life in an undisclosed prison.)  I showed Zack and his friend Peter the igloo.  They thought it was coolReally cool.  And they actually played in it.  They played in it for minutes at a time!  Well, only one time.  For a minute.  And then inside to seek out some screen.  When I was a kid, I remember I would spend hours…. Oh, never mind.

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re saying, “Justin, just stop.  You can’t win this battle.  You can’t kill King Video. This is here to stay.  You are just going to have to accept it.”  Well, no, Dr. Strangelove, I am not going to learn to love the bomb.   There’s something wrong going on here, and I can’t be a part of it.   I’m not willing to suffer the slings and arrows; instead, I’m going to take arms against what seems to be troubles, and by opposing, end them.  What’s that you say?  Hamlet dies in the end?   I’m putting fingers in my ears and I’m humming.  I CAN’T HEAR YOU!

And so, that’s it.  No computer time beyond homework during the week.  None.  Zippo, Zack. “Oh, how about 30 minutes per day?”  Nope. Nothing.   Two hours per day on weekends only.  That’s it.

I’ll keep you up to date.