Uh oh, homework does suffer.....

Posted by Barbara Meltz  July 3, 2007 02:11 PM

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One of the raps against teens playing video games is that it takes time away from other important developmental tasks, like socializing and homework. Turns out -- and maybe this shouldn't surprise us -- that even teens who play a lot of video games manage not to let it interfere with socializing. Homework? That's a different story.

In a study published in this month's Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, researchers say parents are right to worry about the negative impact of video games on school-related activities. Compared to non-gamers, kids who played video games spent 30 percent less time reading and 34 percent less time doing homework.

My advice for parents? (1) Put computers and TVs in public spaces in the home, not in bedrooms. It's not just a matter of what's on their screens, but also of how much time they spend on them. (2) Establish rules from the start about how much screen time is allowed, and when it happens: after homework. And if you're establishing rules for the first time now, make it clear that these are summer rules, not school-year rules.

The younger your kids are when you start these habits, the more likely they will internalize them and therefore follow them as they move into adolescence.

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About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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