Saturday, January 23, 2010

Media Cards (or--how to get the kids to not play video games every waking minute)

When we bought our Wii 2 years ago, we had never owned any kind of gaming system before (well, not since having kids, anyway). We quickly realized that we needed to do something to prevent our kids from having a serious gaming addiction and/or let their grades slip down the drain.

Thus, the Media Card was born.

It's basically a grade-based reward system. I've never liked the idea of paying kids money for good grades, but this was a way to make them feel rewarded while at the same time keeping them accountable for the amount of time they spend on computer/video games/tv/movies. Yep, the 'media' in Media Card applies to all electronic forms of entertainment in our home. They can read books, play board games, puzzles, cards, etc. etc. for 'free', but they have to 'pay' to play Lego Indiana Jones or visit their Webkinz online.

We set the payment levels for the grades we knew our kids were capable of. We use a software-based curriculum for a couple of the kids, which gives a quiz and/or test in every subject at least once a week. Therefore, we thought this would give the kids enough opportunities to earn media cards to keep them supplied to the tune of about 1 card per day, if they did well on those quizzes/tests.

We didn't want them to earn so many cards that they could spend every free minute on electronic time wasters, but enough to keep them motivated to put forth some effort in school. That's why we decided not to 'pay' for their daily work. You can decide what you reward them for and what they need to pay for. Just set up the rules to start with, communicating to your child(ren) that for the first month or so the system may need a bit of 'tweaking'.

We also had two 'tiers' of earning opportunity--1 card earned for an A or B on the quiz/test, 2 cards for a 100% on one. Each media card is good for 30 minutes of 'play' time, and we used a timer to keep them accountable on this. I've gotten away from that recently and have noticed the kids taking advantage and going a bit over their time limit if I'm not paying attention. Going to have to bring back the timer. :)

Oh, and I actually made up the cards on the computer, using a label template of some sort. They're just made out of cardstock, but have lasted 2 years so far with no problems.

I now have a couple of kiddos using non-software-based curriculum, so it's a little more work for me to keep up with this system for them. They don't have tests or quizzes in a couple of the subjects, so I just average their weekly grades in each subject and if it falls within the acceptable range, they get their card.

Several of my friends have commented on how much they liked our system, so just thought I'd put it out here to share.

1 comment:

  1. Very creative!

    My son got an Xbox last summer, and I, too, wanted to make sure he wasn't going to neglect his reading. My solution: For every minute he spends reading, he gets a minute of game time. Because he is taking an AP European History class, he's really racking up the time.

    I allow him unlimited on the weekends if he doesn't have homework. The earned time can be used on weekdays.

    During the summer, since school will be out, I'm going to exchange minutes of Bible reading for Xbox time.