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Chores For Computer Time, Not Allowance

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Here’s a clever idea I never thought about (mostly because I don’t have kids): Children perform chores in return for computer or video game time, not allowances. That’s the idea behind an article in the New York Times today in which children earn “screen time” as opposed to dollars and cents for good behavior.

I really like this idea because it’s a lot like carbon credits (please bear with me). So a company does something bad for the environment, like pumping more CO2 into the air, in order to offset that they can do something good, like planing more trees. Well, this is the same idea as earning “screen time” because playing video games is “bad” whereas studying, reading a book, doing chores, is “good.” You can even throw in wrinkles like trading your chores for screen time with siblings, sort of like a secondary market for screen time!

Now, some parents might say that chores should be part of one’s duties and children shouldn’t feel like they should be rewarded for the things they should be doing. It’s the same argument as not tying allowances with chores but if you can get over that then this is a pretty solid idea. It’ll be a few more years before we’ll have a chance to implement it but it’s always good to be prepared. 🙂

{ 10 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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10 Responses to “Chores For Computer Time, Not Allowance”

  1. MoneyNing says:

    Hmm.. I wonder if you will like it if you are the children and have to do chores just to play Call of Duty 4 🙂

  2. Mrs. Micah says:

    My parents would always take away computer time if we were bad, so I guess that would fit.

  3. Dirac says:

    I guess I am more of an evil person. I would give them an allowance and then charge them to ‘rent’ game-time. That way, they can choose to either save or blow their money on playing the games.

    Wow. Now that I look at it, I feel like Uncle Scrooge…

  4. dePriest says:

    Excellent idea! I’ve got two 15-year-olds who have not been doing their chores (or doing them halfway) since I’ve not been home to ride them, but they still expect an allowance. I’d been out of town over a month before I got home last weekend, but I hit the roof when my husband told me the kids weren’t working (he works full-time days and works at home teaching college courses at night). I told them no more allowances, but they still had their computer time, phones, etc. When I go back home around Christmas, I *am* going to tie their computer time to their chores. I can’t wait to see their expressions, especially my daughter’s, who will be getting a new computer for Christmas! Oh, and just in case anyone’s wondering how a parent – especially a mother – could be away from her children for so long, my mother is dying, and I have to go out of town to care for her.

  5. fathersez says:

    Hmm…I am not so sure.

    Our 2 elder girls somehow went passed the video games phase, as we did not have internet access at home then. They only chat……a bit too much, we think, but we’ll take this anyday over games.

    The younger 3 are spending way too much time on the games. These games seem to have some funny effects on them…like how a smoker will crave for a cigarette.

    My wife and I actually want them to stop this habit. We are not sure how. Lately, the kids signed an agreement (yes, signed) with their mum, agreeing to play for maximum 2 hours a day after finishing their studies, chores etc. etc. They did sign it quite happily. And even turned down my offer to negotiate anything they were not happy with.

    But the games seem to be all consuming. My wife and I want to just keep emphasizing one clause in the agreement, that the games are a waste of time, unproductive blah, blah, blah.

    And hopefully try to get rid of this menace.

    The concept of exchanging something the kids want with something we want is great, but not legitimising something we want to ban.

    Wonder if this is this too strong a view?

  6. fathersez says:

    And dePriest,

    I am so sorry about your mother. May you be given the strength to preservere during this difficult time.

  7. Donna says:

    Fathersez: Some people do believe that video games are physically addictive. Have you considered having your children go cold turkey on these things, if you think they are a waste of time and/or harmful?
    Child psychologist John Rosemond has written about this fairly extensively; one of his articles is reprinted at this URL:
    I personally think there are WAY too many things that a kid can do to amuse himself to allow him to spend hours and hours a day on video games. I have to wonder what it does to their developing brains. One thing I do know is that a kid sitting on a couch for two hours is not moving around, not breathing fresh air, not creating anything, not reading, not interacting with others in a meaningful way.
    Tough love may be called for here. As Rosemond points out, no addict wants to give up his drug of choice and there will be tears, yelling, etc. But something that a lot of parents tend to forget is that THEY, not the children, are in charge. At times, parents need to make decisions based on concern, love and experience — decisions that will render them uber-unpopular for a while.
    After all, would you let your kid drink a beer because some of the other parents let their kids drink a beer? Or would you let your kid stay out on the street until midnight because “all the other kids do”?
    Over the weekend I visited a family for whom I may begin babysitting. Two of the kids were playing hand-held video games. Their dad told them it was time to go to an appointment. The boys kept playing. “Come on, now, it’s time to go. Turn those off.” The boys kept playing. “Boys, we need to leave now!” Finally the older one replied, “Dad, just let us finish these games.” Dad: “No, we need to leave now.” Mom: “Boys, you’re not even supposed to be playing those today.” And the boys kept playing, and playing, and playing.
    I can’t WAIT for them to try that while I’m babysitting. If their parents say one hour of game time, I will warn them at 55 minutes and set a timer, and five minutes later they will be told ONCE to turn off the games. After that I will take them from their protesting little hands and put them up on top of the fridge. Kids, here’s a news flash: You need to abide by the rules your parents set, just as parents abide by the rules society sets. It’s part of socialization. It’s part of parenting. The hard part. The part no one likes. The NECESSARY part.

  8. fathersez says:

    Thanks, Donna.

    Sorry for getting back to you so late.

    The article by JR also seems to confirm our fears. I’ll have to discuss with the missus and come up with a solution.

    And like you said, We are in charge.

    Thanks, again

  9. drmom says:

    We’ve found the best way to enforce regulated screen time is to use a device that cuts power to the screen after granted time is elapsed. We hook up the Wii, DVD, cable, etc. to the same tv screen and that tv power is regulated. We’ve tried two and the one that works best for us is TVBob.

  10. drmom says:

    On mac’s the parental controls also help regulate time allowed.

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