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We're not dealing with teenagers yet but I would really like to avoid this kind of outburst.

How have parents with teenagers been able to find/establish a balance for their children to not be so dependent and obsessive about something you think takes up too much of their time (e.g. Internet, video games, reading - yes, my cousin loved to read so much he refused to sleep)? I'd like to know what is more effective, rolling with the punches or establishing "ground-rules" before teenage years? Sometimes I think if the rules are too much, it's more reason for them to rebel.

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I read so much I refused to go to sleep, read under the blanket with a flashlight, still do it all these years later... I would consider reading in the hard to abuse category, I guess. –  Orbit Mar 31 '11 at 21:39
    
It is worth mentioning that the video you linked is thought to be a fake (due to the follow-up videos featuring the same boy and his brother). –  Beofett Jul 30 '11 at 0:11
    
Also, WOOL –  bobobobo Nov 19 '11 at 16:02

3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

First of all, have a good reason for thinking something is being done "too much". It's easy to over-react. When I was a kid, my folks took a lot of guff from other adults for letting me "play on the computer" so much. I started programming when I was six and now make a career of it. Think about:

  • What effect is the activity having on your child? Is it causing him/her to miss out on more important things, or impairing his/her ability to do well in school?

  • Is the activity productive in some way? There's a huge difference between playing games and learning to code, between goofing off reading webcomics and surfing for ways to make your own drawing better, and so on. Productive activity is by nature more valuable than unproductive activity.

  • Why is the activity so important to your child? Escapism is concerning. Getting a sense of accomplishment from "fake" activity like an MMORPG is concerning. Developing a skill (even one without obvious practical value) and real achievements are good. (Of course there are many other good reasons to do things, I'm talking specifically about good reasons to do something in what others my see as excess.)

If something really is a problem, don't force your teen to quit (that will likely backfire). Instead, supplant it with another activity that your teen can get excited about and will get more from. You may have to get him/her to try many different ones until something sticks.

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"When I was a kid, my folks took a lot of guff from other adults for letting me "play on the computer" so much. I started programming when I was six and now make a career of it." — You and I both! :D –  Yuki Apr 2 '11 at 11:24
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+1. Oh yes, please watch "October Sky" for historical reference to teenagers who "spend too much time" on "useless hobbies". –  Ernie May 19 '11 at 16:40
    
Agreed, you have to consider the activity and what it is you are trying to promote. Sometimes the younger the child the more it will affect them, positively, as they get older. Only you know when something is being abused and how, just tell your children you set strict guidelines and that is it. –  MichaelF May 24 '11 at 11:50
    
Also, the link takes you to a teenage version of a temper tantrum. If you don't allow this kind of behavior in the first place, model more constructive ways to express anger/frustration etc. and help you child be emotionally intelligent, even if you DO decide your child is doing something "too much" it may not result in this type of scene. From what little I know of you already, this is not a likely result of your parenting (though teens are tough at times) –  balanced mama Nov 27 '12 at 23:23

The best way - provide alternative ways to spend free time. Play boardgames, get your kid to some hobby group, hang out somewhere in park, play sports etc.

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More boardgame links: BoardGameGeek, Board and card games Stack Exchange. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Aug 13 '11 at 7:36

I'd go on a Webster Stratton style course. These are available in the UK from Sure Start centres. There are almost certainly other versions of this parenting training in other countries.

There's some nicely balanced info here: http://www.clinpsy.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?t=765

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