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.

Andy

Awesome! He's addiction resistant! Also, he's jumped right to step 7 of the 12 step program, with you as his "Higher Power". That's impressive and really really cool. :-)

PedroCMS

What? He actually said that? I used to be hooked on to computer games when I was a young kid, but I would never stop and think about the consequences it would have. I would play for hours on end, until eventually my mom would shut off the computer and send me to bed. That's impressive that a 5-year old can make that connection and act with his own self-interest in mind.

Rick

Perhaps Club Penguin would be smart to build in a feature that disables access after the user is logged in for X amount of time on a daily or weekly basis. They could keep more of these self-limiting members and it fits in very well with teaching good, responsible internet usage skills.

It could even include on site timers to show the kids how much time they had left so they could prioritize their activities. A little time management lesson certainly couldn't be a bad thing.

ER

Count your blessings. I wish I had his self control and could stay off the Times blogs and all the other distractions...

JoseAngelCMS

The boy made a very clever decision by closing his Penguin account. As when making any other decision, one has to decide whether saying "yes" will bring more 'good' stuff than 'bad' stuff. After he decided what good was the account bringing and what bad, he realized the account was bringing more 'bad' than 'good' stuff to his life. He realized his opportunity cost of having the account was much higher than the actual marginal benefit from playing the game. The boy was not gaining everything from the game, but he had less time to do the things he enjoyed doing; now he was just friends with the computer. The marginal cost outweighed the marginal benefit, and this way, the boy took the most important decision, erase his Penguin account.

DQKennard

Our solution is to have such a piece of crap computer, connected via dialup, that our daughter gets too frustrated to stay on too long.

On the other hand, the Game Boy Advance and Zelda game that I found at a yard sale a few weeks ago for a couple of bucks is getting way too much workout (by her and by me).

Jeremy Miles

We had a similar situation on our kids 4th birthday party. We hired a bouncy (this was in England, where they are called bouncy castles, whatever shape they are). When a man came, relatively early, to set it up, they saw what he was doing, and were very excited. They decided he was a very nice man, for bringing it to them.

Towards the end of the day, after the party, they were obviously in turmoil. There was a bouncy castle in the garden. They felt they should be bouncing. But they were bounced out. They almost pleaded: "Daddy, is the nice man coming to take it away?"

They didn't have the willpower to stop, but they knew they should.

Boookworm

I love reading books. It's one of my favorite things to do. I am not a gamer, but I see how my kids love computer/internet games and web sites.

Have there been any studies that show how reading for 4 hours straight is better for someone than playing a computer game for 4 hours straight? Most of the information is anecdotal (games = bad, reading = good). Extend that to reading for 30+ hours a week vs. gaming for the same amount of time.

The devil's advocate would ask how reading, a linear medium, is better than the problem solving, goal-based, often cooperative experience in many video/computer games? Games like Sim City and even World of Warcraft can teach us a lot, too.

Many of us have kids who are raising these issues.

derek

My parents can't me off of the Freaknomics blog. Fortunately, I'm old enough to live by myself now, so the joke is on them.

Loo Ney

My son and I LOVE Club Penguin. I have my own account, Mama Zita. While he was travelling in Europe with his father last summer, we would log on and play online together which was awesome because a telephone conversation with him would be like uh-huh, yeah, 'kay, alright, bye, I love you too; but online we would hang out for HOURS and I loved it as I missed him so much while he as gone. I would play dumb and he would play tourist guide and show me around CP. I would chase off any pinkies who tried to hi him up, I think I even got reported by little chickie once.

I really wanted to leave a comment to say we let him have a paid account during the summer time when we have some time to spare, otherwise it is way too addictive, especially during school time. He loves having access to his furniture but he takes it well when it has to go into storage for a while and then he forgets about it for the most part until the NEXT TIME.

Read more...

CP163

This happens with a lot of people. Sometimes, I just have to go on myself when I am so bored. Most of the kids in my class also go on and some are addicted.

NAT

clib penguin is cool im a 8th grader and a teen but club penguin is the coolest thing ever!!!

RYAN CUPCAKES!!!!!!!!!!!

OMG THATS SO FUN CLUB PENGUIN IM 12 AND LOVE IT ITS LIKE YOU CANT STOP!!!! I TRIED BUT STILL GO ON IT BUT NOT ALWAYS