Club Penguin Anonymous

My son Nicholas, age 5, recently discovered the internet.

Last week I got him an account at Club Penguin, a website for kids. Since then, he has spent hours at a time on Club Penguin.

He refuses to come to meals. He throws tantrums if forced to stop. Even when enticed with activities he used to find enjoyable, like terrorizing the cat, he remains fixated on the computer screen.

I was shocked yesterday when he asked me to cancel his Club Penguin account.

“Why?” I asked. “Are you tired of it already?”

“No, I love it,” he replied. “It is just that once I start, I can’t get off of it.”

INSERT DESCRIPTIONTaken from clubpenguin.com.

Tim

Amazing! So everyone knows, There is a parent option at Club Penguin so you can control how much time your child they spend online. Its like an egg timer and has worked well for me.

Brad

When i was 10 I "saved up" and bought a game boy. I responded the exact same way and my parents where not big on video games. So the deal became, for every minute I read i got to play a minute of Game Boy. Looking back at it, i couldn't tell you a single game I played but it sure was helpful having read the abridged version of Moby Dick and The Oddsyee come 10th grade English...

bob

i don't believe you, how do you get a child to behave like that. i can't even behave like that.

PekeCMS

HAHAHA! When I read this it reminded me of my experiences with a game known as Halo. After entering a mental addiction I threw it off and gave it to my mother to hide, if not I would have suffered grievously. This shows that the opportunity cost of the kid keeping the Pinguin account is not worth the time or effort, since he knows he will be harmed by it later. Wow. Impressive kid.

MichaelP

Augustine said that perfect abstinence is easier than perfect moderation

Matthew

I have to admit that your child is astoundingly astute. My 6 year old discovered pbskids.org and would spend every waking moment on it. I wish mine had the awareness of how it affects him.

wb

As a child in the 60's, I dreamed of having a computer like the one on the starship Enterprise, with instant access to a vast array of knowledge. Today's kids have that.

As a kid, I would engross myself in reading and tune out everything else. Is it so much different with the internet? Today, I do far less reading and spend far more time on the internet exploring not only items to read, but interacting with others online.

If you are a person who is an introvert by nature, you may actually get more social stimulation online than you would seek out face to face.

Nick Robinson

I'll probably get flamed for this, but I want to say it anyway; I think there are far more healthy things for a five or six year old to be doing than discovering the internet.
I suppose in some sense you're to be congratulated for giving your son the opportunity to learn how all behaviours can become addictive and to know how to deal with that.
I just don't think that the experience of the internet (or TV, for that matter) is rich enough or appropriate enough for children of that age. And, since they have installed parental controls on their site, neither it would appear do Penguin.
And yes, I do have a child of that age myself.

steve

"I almost don't believe the story, except I know from experience all economist's kids are weird."

Awesome, too true.

david

Looks like your son could take less Draconian measures by having you create a parent account and limit the time it allows him on:

"As a parent, it's your call as to how much time is spent on the computer and Club Penguin. To make it easier, we've created a Club Penguin Timer. You'll need a Parent Password to access it, so if you don't have a parent account yet, go to the Create a Parent Account page to create one. Using the Timer, with a few simple clicks, you can:

Set Play Hours - set times for your child to play between

Limit the Daily Total - limit the amount of total time your child plays"

Imad Qureshi

Is your kid really 5 years old? Or is he preparing for GRE so he can get into UofC to start his PhD in Economics?

Richard

A significant key to parenting is discovering what "currency" your child deals in. Once you know this you can pretty much get them to do anything, using the currency as a reward. My 6 year old will do all her chores and more for 10 minutes on CP.

C. Coop

I almost don't believe the story, except I know from experience all economist's kids are weird.

Mayur

I am impressed by your son's reply ... I have never heard any kid giving such a reply.

Ryan Jerz

Club Penguin is a great place for kids, but we had the same problem. My daughter would never get off, and lost some computer privileges because of it on occasion. It's a great way to teach kids about online interaction with some good safeguards, but it can quickly become the kid version of World of Warcraft.

Bob W.

Wow, I went from "hey cool, my 5 year old would love that!" to "oh well, never mind" in about three sentences.

StacieG

My daughter is the same way.

She'll get her Club Penguin membership, play it hard for awhile and then ask to have the membership discontinued.
She says she gets bored and realizes she's missing out on 'real-life'. Same goes for my son (it's World of Warcraft for him).
Me, I like a good book and a cup of tea.

AaronS

What a wise son you have.

Someone said that perfect abstinence is easier than perfect moderation. I agree.

I have, at times, ended my internet subscription, took out the television, and so forth. Why? Because like your son, I discerned that I was wasting precious time.

I, too, have a young son. And if I am not careful, I can spend HOURS surfing the internet, checking the news sits every few minutes for more recent news...or sit and watch TV for mindless hours...all while I have son that would love nothing more than "a story" from daddy, or to "whup up" (to wrestle).

THAT is the greatest use of my time in this life. How dare I waste it.

And when I see that I am not acting in moderation, I get rid of it until I think I CAN act in moderation.

Again, what a wise son you have.

Brooke

Kudos to young Nicholas for doing something that's difficult for anyone of any age to do: realizing something is causing a problem and doing what's necessary to solve it.

Julie Parr

How did you train your child to have so much self-regulatory control? We have a 6 year old with a club penguin addiction and we're not even sure we believe that this kind of statement from a 5 year old is humanly possible from a developmental perspective.

By the way, I was just wondering yesterday how many adults have club penguin accounts.