A lesson plan based on “Just one more game” from the May-June 2008 issue of L.A. Youth, in which Cameron Warfield describes his video game addiction and how he was able to finally get it under control.

By Amanda Riddle, editor

Grades: 7-12

Subjects: Language Arts, Life Skills

Suggested Time Allowance: 45 minutes-1 hour

Overview: Students will identify what activities distract them from achieving their goals.

• copies of the L.A. Youth article “Just one more game” (one per student)
• pens, paper
• white board or blackboard

“Just one more …” It’s a phrase we often hear people use when they can’t stop what they’re doing, but know they should be spending their time on something more productive. Playing video games, watching TV, surfing the Internet, chatting online and talking on the phone are examples of activities that are fun, but don’t necessarily help us reach our long-term goals, such as getting into college, getting a job, pursuing a hobby or improving ourselves. We know we need to manage our time so we have time for schoolwork, extra-curriculars and hobbies, but sometimes we just can’t seem to turn away.

Warm-up discussion:
Talk to your students about their goals and how much time they spend on activities that could be distracting them from reaching their goals. A few teens at L.A. Youth admit to watching hours of the Food Network. Others say they have to go online whenever they’re near a computer. What about your students? What activities distract them from achieving their goals? TV and Internet are common. They may also say reading magazines, listening to music, shopping or playing pick-up games. Do they think they spend too much time on these activities? Have they tried cutting back? Did they succeed or fail? What makes cutting back so hard?

Read Cameron Warfield’s article “Just one more game” about his obsession with video games on page 10 of the May-June issue of L.A. Youth.

Discussion questions:
These questions could be assigned as a reading comprehension exercise or used in a discussion.

How did Cameron get into video games?
• He lived with his uncle, who was an avid video game player.
• It was the only thing he could do after school since he didn’t have a backyard.

How did playing video games affect Cameron?
• He was tired at school and couldn’t concentrate.
• He’d daydream about games during class.
• He didn’t do his homework.
• His grades were Ds and Fs until he was able to bring them up at the end of sixth and seventh grades and pass his classes.
• He got kicked off the football team.

What made Cameron decide to change?
• He realized that when something happened that forced him to stop playing, he was able to pass his classes.
• His mom told him about a friend who failed out of college for not doing his work, and Cameron realized that could happen to him.

What happened after Cameron decided to play less?
• He missed playing during the week but went crazy on the weekends.
• He could focus in school.
• He now sees himself as a smart student who will go to college.
• He monitored himself and turned off the games on school nights so they don’t affect him the next day at school.

After reading this article, write an essay about how your goals are affected by daily distractions. Start by stating what your goals are and why they are important to you. Explain what your favorite distractions are and how they keep you from achieving your goals, and what you could do differently. 

Extension activity:
Ask your students to create a schedule, try to stick to it, and then write about it. When they write about it, they should explain what activities they chose to limit and what they wanted to spend more time on, what happened when they tried to follow the schedule and what they learned from the experience. Do they feel they are better focused as a result?