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macrumors 6502
Original poster
Sep 19, 2005
Hi there -

While I sincerely don't mean to be offensive, I would love to get responses from parents here, as opposed to "youngsters" lol (of which I know there are MANY on this forum!). Either that or/and tech-savvy young folk who are just willing to help and not judge me for being over-controlling. ;)

A little history here or else skip past to here if you want!: *


We have a 9th grader who is smart yet easily distracted and into procrastinating - so is not so smart at getting started on his homework and finishing on time. Experience has taught us that he gets really self-loathing and mean to everyone in the family after-the-fact, when he hasn't gotten to homework or done well on quizzes/tests. It embarrasses him at school and loses privileges at home. He feels better - I mean FAR better about himself and therefor is happier and more fun to be around etc etc when he focuses less on the typical nonstop, addictive video game playing and watching youtube video game reviews on youtube, and more on not just what he should be doing but also a variety of activities (has actually admitted so and in fact chose a Nano instead of iPod touch recently when he lost his iPod touch and was offered up a new one, because he knows he'll go down the ol' rabbit hole with a Touch!).

Things he either needs or likes to do:

- getting homework turned in on time - so feeling more successful and less anxiety/pressure
- prepping for quizzes - so feeling more successful and less anxiety/pressure
- listening to music - loves all kinds and then some
- playing his steel string, classical and electric guitars - he's amazing on the guitar, truly, and can never seem to get enough!
- hanging with friends - which is not to say they don't have their noses in their screens 98% of the time
- playing soccer and snowboarding
- watching movies and Comedy Central with the fam and wrestling with his little brothers - just stuff he likes
- sleeping in ;)

We're being meanies and aren't giving him an iPhone yet (which will be his first smart phone) till he gets straight A's or close-to all straight A's (3.5 + gpa) for two quarters back to back...and then he can only keep his smart phone (will have dumb phone backup!) if he keeps the grades up. Soooo meeeean of us I know... _______________________________________________________________________________________

*With all this in mind - including his resistance to getting homework started on/finished and how easily he gets distracted by flashy bright things haha, we want to get him a USED Apple laptop (can't afford new) - maybe a 2010 or 2011 11" or 13" Macbook Air with wi-fi and built-in camera. Point being we'd like one that is more for boring ol' homework - to be researched, typed up and sent in - so not a huge screen, and also with enough storage and processing speed so that we can update it to the latest iOS software and so there's no noticeable lag. Also we'd like him to be able to store plenty of music (at least 4k songs or maybe around 70 gb) and some photos/videos (2,000-5,000 items? 20gb?) as well as all basic software for homework such as Word, Powerpoint etc. A bonus would be enough storage left over for Garage Band and all that entails, which I think takes up at least a couple of gb not to mention what's stored. That's about it. I don't WANT there to be everything a gamer would want! Like the iPhone, he can earn his way to a bigger and badder-ass computer when he's mature enough to handle it. We also have the larger family desktop which he uses for games but a laptop would let him transport it to the library or get away from his brothers more.

A neighbor's selling her 11" 2010 Macbook Air in excellent condition for just under $300 however it's got 2 gb ram and 64 gb of storage so I'm guessing that's not going to cut it! Would be easy to transport though! Can you think of one or two older-year laptops that might be a good fit considering all this?

Thank you!

Phil A.

Staff member
Apr 2, 2006
Shropshire, UK
As a parent of a daughter who has just turned 18, I have to say I disagree strongly with you refusing to give him a phone unless he gets straight As - not every child is a grade A student but that doesn't make them less worthy. All you can ask is he does his best and I feel that requirement would put more pressure on his already stressful life!

On the subject of the computer, 2GB will not cut it and I'd say 4GB is probably the absolute minimum you should be thinking about. A used 11" MBA of a newer vintage would be fine
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Feb 6, 2016
Just skimmed your OP.

I think your parentlng/son issues are more behavioral than technology related.

Try putting the computer in your living room and set ground rules for the computer - whatever you buy.

- What can it be used for?
- When can it be used?
- What sites are acceptable?
- Can it be used for entertainment?
- Is usage tied to things like grades?

Explain the computer is for his education, and explain that you can check up on his activity on the computer at any time.

That should be enough to keep him focused, and if you do check in on him and check the computer, then if he does slip up, you can talk about the issue and correct it.

If you work with him and mentor good behavior you will likely see positive results.

Also, try a rewards system... If you get your homework done on time every day this week, and you maintain a ____ grade level, then you can spend 2 hours a week watching movies. For example.

That will help in the beginning, however your larger goal should be to help your son want to learn and succeed.

(If you have to rely on rewards when he is 30 and still living at home, you will have issues!)

Work to help him set goals in life and do things to help him achieve them. If you can get him passionate about learning and reaching his goals (e.g. going to college, becoming a doctor, starting a business, etc) then quickly the video games and surfing the Internet needs will disappear.

Just some thoughts.
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