Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

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markfaix
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Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by markfaix » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:01 pm

My son, a rising high school junior, has saved $1500 through summer jobs, chores, gifts, etc. He now wants to spend almost all of it on a gaming computer that he plans to build this summer. He has been talking about this for over a year. I am conflicted about whether we should allow him to do this.

Advantages:
He could learn that we shouldn’t spend such a high percentage of net worth on a rapidly depreciating item, especially if the computer malfunctions.

Our son has the inattentive form of ADD (not hyperactive). In general he has horrible executive function. But for projects about which he’s passionate, he can pull it together, and doing something like this might help connect the dots in his brain.

Disadvantages:
The only purpose of this computer is gaming. He has a Chromebox that is more than adequate for his schoolwork. Should we allow/teach our kids spend so much of their net wealth on a luxury item?

I’m not an expert in ADD, but I can’t imagine a high powered gaming computer helping his attention span or doing anything useful for his future. He is not interested in computer science at all. (Historically, he has not abused video game privileges, at most a couple hours per week, but this is partially because my computer is underpowered for video games.)

With the addictive nature of video games on a powerful computer, I'm worried about it adversely affecting his academics. He’s a decent A-B student despite his ADD, but he is taking multiple AP classes junior year, and I anticipate him really struggling academically this year.

How would you handle this?

miamivice
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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by miamivice » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:06 pm

From a financial standpoint, for a high school junior, his money, his choice on how to spend it.

However, from a school performance standpoint, I'm not sure that having a gaming computer in his room is the correct thing.

So, I think this is more of a parenting decision than a financial decision.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by Thesaints » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:06 pm

Maybe a less formal accounting would be a better practice in this case. I'd leave "net worth" and "depreciation" alone (btw everything instantly depreciates to about zero if it is destroyed)
Didn't you say he would be "building" such a computer ? That could be a great way for learning what's inside the box, which is not useless info these days.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:07 pm

Is your computer upgradable? As in, you dont need to spend so much building a new one, just add a new graphics card to allow for gaming?
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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by reriodan » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:10 pm

Well I am not sure what you should do, but I HIGHLY doubt he will somehow be disappointed in his purchase of a "rapidly depreciating item". Personally, if he has made that money himself and he has contributed to your household as he has been required, I would be hard pressed to find a good excuse to stop him. If it gets really out of hand I would guess you could limit his usage. Growing up my parents limited my amount of computer game usage, initially, but it seemed pretty stupid to me considering they watched a lot of TV, and I was allowed to watch TV an unlimited amount :oops:.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by mhalley » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:10 pm

I don't think it is that big a deal. He could probably go a little cheaper.
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/bes ... ,4390.html
Or else get a ps4 or xbox1.
The biggest thing will be that he knows there will be time limits on gaming and grade expectations.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by TigerNest » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:12 pm

Honestly, I'd not only let him do it, I'd encourage it and learn how to do it with him.

Building a computer is a great learning experience. You learn how all the parts work and fit together. You can save money in the long run by buying quality parts that last and replacing things like graphics cards. Prebuilt computers cut corners and usually come with one or two shoddy pieces.

The depreciation is not severe. I built mine 6 years ago with quality parts and it's still working well (only upgrade I did was a graphics card). It should last me a few more years. He'll bring it with him to college, where he'll appreciate having a more powerful computer than a Chromebook.

Building a computer also often leads to other interesting projects like learning Linux and open source software. It de-mystifies computing. He might not be interested in majoring in comp sci now, but who knows, maybe it'll spark a passion.

As someone in his late teens he also needs to learn how to handle money, and it sounds like he's earned it and worked towards this goal, which is a good lesson (patience, saving money towards something). Being forbidden from achieving that goal would probably be pretty frustrating. He might also be planning to do this with some of his friends, so there's a social aspect to it too.

I'd worry if time spent gaming came at the expense of schooling/physical activity etc. but it doesn't sound like that's the case.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by Blink235 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:14 pm

miamivice wrote:From a financial standpoint, for a high school junior, his money, his choice on how to spend it.

However, from a school performance standpoint, I'm not sure that having a gaming computer in his room is the correct thing.

So, I think this is more of a parenting decision than a financial decision.
I agree here. On the one hand, you've taught him a nice lesson about working hard and reaping the fruits of his labor, on the other you're allowing him to indulge himself with all his savings. I don't think there's a right answer for a young man at his age.

If you think it's reasonable to place the computer in a common room and monitor his usage, then you may be able to mitigate any "abuse".

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by jed2009 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:16 pm

My experience for what it's worth:

I built computers throughout high school, college and to this day. I averaged at least 15 hours a week "gaming", some nights until my mom forced me to stop. I graduated both HS and college (BA) with a 3.5 GPA and also lettered in 3 sports in high school. Gaming is not the devil.

I've had folks pay me to build computers for them due to knowing what to do and where to look. I learned tons of vocabulary from games, and improved reading, typing and technical skills. It's also a good way to "spend time" with potential friends (as in someone he meets at school, not random internet folks).

Make sure he is taught the basics of saving and financials, but don't keep him from spending his own money on this. My opinion of course.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by KlangFool » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:17 pm

OP,

This is a parenting decision/philosophy.

A) Do you want your children to make as much mistake as possible while you are around to look over his shoulder?

Or,

B) You stop your children from making mistake but you would not know whether he learned from his mistake. Or, he will do the same mistake while you are not looking?

You can stop him now. But, what would he do when he goes to college and you are not around? Will he play around the computer all the time and skip classes?

My sister-in-law chooses (B). Then, when her son goes to college and she is not around to stop him, he played games all the time and skips classes. Eventually, he dropped out of the college.

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Taylor Larimore
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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by Taylor Larimore » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:18 pm

Markfaix:

Gaming computers are about $500 to $700 according to Google:

I have three sons so I can relate.

Your son worked hard for his money. I would be inclined to let him spend it as he wants--unless it has negative consequences which you probably don't know in advance.

Children learn from both good and bad results (some adults too).

https://www.google.com/#q=gaming+computer

Best wishes.
Taylor
"Simplicity is the master key to financial success." -- Jack Bogle

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by ResearchMed » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:22 pm

It sounds like this is the first time he'll be trying to do something like this (build a complex device).

If so, is there a much less expensive and more simple version that he could "do" (aka "try") first?

And IF that goes well, then how about strongly supporting him in that bigger device, including perhaps getting him some extra guidance if needed at some point?
(And perhaps even offer him whatever amount he spent on the first one, to apply towards the second, larger project?)

If he loves building a smaller one and does it well (mistakes are allowed!), then this could be the start of something new and important for him.
(And if it doesn't work out so well, neither of you will feel that so much was wasted.)

Good luck!

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by lightheir » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:22 pm

Taylor Larimore wrote:Markfaix:

Gaming computers are about $500 to $700 according to Google:

I have three sons so I can relate.

Your son worked hard for his money. I would be inclined to let him spend it as he wants--unless it has negative consequences which you probably don't know in advance.

Children learn from both good and bad results (some adults too).

https://www.google.com/#q=gaming+computer

Best wishes. K9
Taylor
Actually, there's a full range if gaming computer cost and power. 800 gets you entry level to modern best of games, but not more. 1500 is a typical mid-range spec for a reasonably futureproofed rig for serious gaming.

I don't have the time to game much but no way I'd pay only 800 for a new gaming rig - it's too underpowered for a serious gamer!

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by daveydoo » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:23 pm

Similar experience a few years back. From your description, I hope you know that you may be building this computer -- or at least very heavily involved. Plus, there are a number of high-stakes steps like attaching the CPU to the motherboard where you might want the guys at Fry's to do that one thing for you/him (prevent a bent pin, etc).

Vis-a-vis the bigger concern: our plan from the get-go was that the computer would sit in a public location in the house with the monitor visible from the doorway. Also, I needed access for photo and video editing so we ended up splitting the cost. My kid's interest in gaming was transient (luckily) -- too much else going on in HS, etc. Does all his schoolwork and SM from laptop and does no gaming apart from phone apps here and there. But there's no denying that you can build a far nicer computer, cost-effectively, than you can buy. I was able to follow my kid's lead entirely and we bought his parts list to the penny -- from various online and local vendors. Over-clockable, water-cooled -- the whole nine yards. But he had lived and breathed this for months -- and even developed a reputation at school and on Tom's Hardware for helping others with their component selections -- so I felt I could trust his judgment. But there were a number of parent-required moments. I still the rig for photo editing but it may be overkill. Only place we scrimped was on the monitor -- which is what I need most now!
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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by PoppyA » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:28 pm

I would let him buy it. He saved toward a goal. Good for him. Before he buys it tell him if his grades slip, there will be consequences.

My first major purchase was a stereo. I borrowed the $ from my step-mother and paid her back in installments. He is way ahead of me at age 15 by not buying on "credit"

This is also a confidence builder for him. He did good!
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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by VaR » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:29 pm

Maybe he'd like to save 10%-20% of it for later? It might also be a good lesson in budgeting the project. Let's say he saves 10% in a rainy day fund. I think he needs to budget 10%-20% of it for cost overruns on the project - also for potential repairs. He might also want to save for cool bargains for Black Friday and such. Oh, and what about savings for the actual games? Also need to account for subscription costs and p2w type expenses.

Lots of benefits to planning in this project.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by Wakefield1 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:42 pm

Building a nice computer might be a very good and constructive experience for someone.
Using it to get spaced out into video games,especially violent ones,not such a good thing.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by Teague » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:46 pm

Taylor Larimore wrote:
Children learn from both good and bad results (some adults too).

Best wishes.
Taylor
Brilliant. I shall remember that one!
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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by MossySF » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:47 pm

I spent my youth building computers (PC days), soldering parts (pre-PC days where you had to make your own components), playing computer games, hacking computer games, communicating with others online (modem BBSes pre-Internet), writing computer programs, etc. After getting into computers, I stopped caring about school and my 4.0 GPA dropped to like a 3.5. (Graduated w/ CS BS cum laude showing up about 5 days per semester because I was too busy with either computer gaming or computer projects.) Now I'm in one of these Boglehead X-digit clubs due to my computer skills.

Expensive gaming computer is fine -- just make sure this computer is used for more than just gaming.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by Watty » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:52 pm

When my son as about that age he made a MAME machine with a little bit of my help. MAME is an acronym for Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator and it allows you to download emulators that will run old computer arcade games and play them. We built a full size arcade cabinet with several different controls so different types of games can be played. You can also make smaller table top versions.

If you Google "MAME machine" you will find a lot of information on these.

The nice thing about these is that you can pretty much use any old computer you might not be using since they don't require a lot of processing power. If you don't have one you can likely ask around and find a friend that has an old one in a closet that they havn't used for a few years. We did buy the various controls and wood for the cabinet but I would guess that it only cost in the ballpark of two hundred dollars or so since we could use a lot of things we already had around the house.

You might see if you can get your son interested in making a MAME machine as a practice run for building a high end gaming machine. Figuring out how to handle things like motherboards and video cards has a bit of learning curve and it would be good to learn that using inexpensive components instead of a $500 video card.

I don't know if the extra purchase coverage that some credit cards have would cover a fried motherboard but you should check into that and be sure to buy any components with a card card that might cover things like that.

I don't know how much that project had to do with it but my son did decide to get a Computer Science degree and is doing very well in his career now.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by Helo80 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:53 pm

I'll be straight....

I've been investing since I was 14-15 Y/O. Not all of my money and mostly into Roth IRAs (no taxable accounts), but I say that to say I've had a good financial head on my shoulder's for fiduciary spending. My best gaming years were in middle school and high school. My college program and extra-currics were too intense for me to continue gaming. Now, I have more money than i know what to do with, and (seriously): 2x360's, PS4, Xbox One, Wii, Wii U, and Nintendo 3DS.... and I never seem to have time to game.

A lot of people get sucked into gaming and let their grades or jobs go poorly. But, if he's a good student, for me, I'm glad my parents let me game in gradeschool, because I stopped throughout college and pretty much all of my 20's. Maybe it's a nostalgia thing, but I miss my gaming years when I had not a worry in the world, and could seriously devote time to the classics.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by Watty » Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:59 pm

Teague wrote:
Taylor Larimore wrote:
Children learn from both good and bad results (some adults too).

Best wishes.
Taylor
Brilliant. I shall remember that one!
One of my favorite quotes is

"Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment."

which had been attributed to several people.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by Dyloot » Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:05 pm

markfaix wrote:(Historically, he has not abused video game privileges, at most a couple hours per week, but this is partially because my computer is underpowered for video games.)
Sounds like my house when I was a kid! Thankfully, I got a job, built a gaming PC, and could finally play all the amazing games I'd seen at my friends houses!

:D

So, if he's 16 or 17, this is close to happening--whether it's under your roof and rules, or when he's away at college or living with friends. You can let him do it now while you can still observe--and discuss, if problems arise--or you can restrict it and he'll jump on it the first chance he can when he has more freedom.

You're right to be concerned. I spent a substantial amount of time gaming in my late teens and early 20s. I had a grand time doing it, but I missed out on a lot of college life and other social activities because I was in my room playing games. I still pulled a 3.5 GPA, but I could have done much better.

The bonus came a few years later when I ditched the ridiculously low-paying career that I had prepared for via my college degree and I discovered that IT analysts are paid quite well. My technical aptitude, problem solving ability, and overall love of working with technology really was born in those days; my younger self loved computers dearly and made them do amazing things because I wanted to--not because I thought it would pay well ten years in the future.

I don't game much any more, but I still love working with computer hardware and software.

With that said, plenty of kids who don't find a professional or social niche do end up wasting much of their younger years playing games. I have friends who still do so, even though they're now in their late 30s and early 40s. Your concerns are valid.

With that said, I know tons of adults who waste an incredible amount of time watching TV. It's easy to pick on the gamers--they're easy targets--but they're far from the only people who spent way too much time with electronic devices.

And $1,500 is a solid amount of building a gaming PC.

CPU - $200 - $350
Motherboard - $150 - $200
Memory - $100
Hard Drive - $100 to $300
Case - $50 - $100
Power supply - $50 - $100
Video card - $135 - $500
Operating System - $100
Monitor(s) - $150 to $500

It adds up in a hurry. But they're so much better than the junk they sell you at Best Buy for $499.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by ClevrChico » Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:31 pm

I think it's a great idea. It's a good learning experience: 1) The project itself. 2) The lesson of blowing all your money.

Some of my best memories are from things I got to do with my part time job money when in school.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by newcatintown » Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:53 pm

eSports is going to blow up... the new generation isn't going to be watching/playing football, basketball or baseball. They will be gaming and the big boys are already hedging their bets.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by mmmodem » Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:23 pm

First, building computers was what I spent my days on as a teenager. Back in the 90's, knowing computers and knowing how to work on them was a coveted skill. As far as I'm concerned, it still is. I was an A/B student and was an A/B student after the computer. The skills I learned from using a computer is helping me in my career today.

Second, one of the biggest mistakes I made as a teenager was spending all my money as well as maxing my meager $300 limit credit card on car stereo equipment and computer parts. Being hampered by that debt in part shaped me to "spend less than I earn" today.

It's a win/win in my opinion to let your son spend as he pleases.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by whodidntante » Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:36 pm

Make sure he saves enough to pay for the electricity. Gaming PCs are basically space heaters.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by Angelus359 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:46 pm

Not right now, and not 1500$ computer

One: there is a major graphics card shortage right now
Ethereum miners are destroying the availability which is making gpus sell at double market value. Ethereum mining difficult will spike in a few months, bringing availability back

So wait a bit, the prices will come back down

Two: I have a gaming PC that can run literally any game that exists on high, on a 1080p monitor for under 1k from a year and a half ago.

There are in-between options

I do think building is a great learning experience though
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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by Angelus359 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:48 pm

whodidntante wrote:Make sure he saves enough to pay for the electricity. Gaming PCs are basically space heaters.
My gaming PC peaks at 200w while playing most games. A Chandler of 5 40w incandescents can be that.

It idles around 40w. Less than a typical lightbulb.

Space heaters are about 1500w

I have a ups that constantly monitors power usage and displays it on a small LCD screen
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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by Angelus359 » Wed Jul 19, 2017 11:53 pm

lightheir wrote:
Taylor Larimore wrote:Markfaix:

Gaming computers are about $500 to $700 according to Google:

I have three sons so I can relate.

Your son worked hard for his money. I would be inclined to let him spend it as he wants--unless it has negative consequences which you probably don't know in advance.

Children learn from both good and bad results (some adults too).

https://www.google.com/#q=gaming+computer

Best wishes. K9
Taylor
Actually, there's a full range if gaming computer cost and power. 800 gets you entry level to modern best of games, but not more. 1500 is a typical mid-range spec for a reasonably futureproofed rig for serious gaming.

I don't have the time to game much but no way I'd pay only 800 for a new gaming rig - it's too underpowered for a serious gamer!
I5 is 200.
Motherboard can be 70.
Ram can be 100.
Psu can be 50 for bronze
Case can be 30
Legit Windows can be got from playasia for 20
GeForce 1060 when I bought one a year ago or so was 260
2tb hard drive is about 100

That's 570+gpu

Sub 900$ using prices that happened before the recent ethereum gpu shortage
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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by whodidntante » Thu Jul 20, 2017 12:02 am

Angelus359 wrote:
whodidntante wrote:Make sure he saves enough to pay for the electricity. Gaming PCs are basically space heaters.
My gaming PC peaks at 200w while playing most games. A Chandler of 5 40w incandescents can be that.

It idles around 40w. Less than a typical lightbulb.

Space heaters are about 1500w

I have a ups that constantly monitors power usage and displays it on a small LCD screen
I believe you, but there is significant potential for higher power consumption in a gaming PC. Mostly from multiple high-end GPUs rendering complex scenes at high resolutions and high framerates. 600 watts or more is not unheard of. Space heater is an exaggeration for sure.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by TropikThunder » Thu Jul 20, 2017 12:09 am

markfaix wrote:My son, a rising high school junior, has saved $1500 through summer jobs, chores, gifts, etc. He now wants to spend almost all of it on a gaming computer that he plans to build this summer. He has been talking about this for over a year. I am conflicted about whether we should allow him to do this.
My guess is this was his motivation for saving the $1,500 in the first place. I think it's essential that that kind of determination and goal-oriented focus be rewarded in any teen, especially in one with ADD. Besides, building a computer is pretty cool. 8-)

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by Pajamas » Thu Jul 20, 2017 12:29 am

Have you considered encouraging him to build a motorcycle instead?

Seriously, the primary problem that I can see here is that the time spent gaming could interfere with his school work and social life, not the fact that he wants to spend his hard-earned money building a computer. It is a very common issue and it's not just restricted to teenagers or gaming. Many older people are addicted to screens, too, from smartphones to televisions. People with ADD may also be at greater risk.

Sit him down and talk about your expectations and concerns about school and other activities and come to an understanding on some basic rules so that gaming doesn't take over his life. For instance, you might not want to let him keep the computer in his bedroom and you might want to set a limit on the number of hours he spends gaming, especially during the week, and no gaming for a week before exams or until homework is done nightly. You might even ask him what he thinks would be reasonable rules as a starting point for discussion.

Also, a gaming computer is optimized for gaming but can be used for most anything. It will probably run Windows and that will be good experience for him as well since he currently uses Chrome.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by Afty » Thu Jul 20, 2017 12:41 am

Back in the day I convinced my parents to buy a then top of the line 486 PC, ostensibly so that I could do homework. The real reason was so I could play Doom on it. But I also learned how to program, how to assemble hardware, and how to troubleshoot computers. My interest in playing games also led directly to getting Internet access early (for downloading shareware games), installing Linux on a spare PC in college (so I could run a multiplayer server), and taking a graduate-level graphics programming course. I'm a software engineer now, and I really think I am where I am today because of my interest in PC gaming.

I think a lot of good could come from letting him buy that gaming PC.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by Angelus359 » Thu Jul 20, 2017 1:40 am

whodidntante wrote:
Angelus359 wrote:
whodidntante wrote:Make sure he saves enough to pay for the electricity. Gaming PCs are basically space heaters.
My gaming PC peaks at 200w while playing most games. A Chandler of 5 40w incandescents can be that.

It idles around 40w. Less than a typical lightbulb.

Space heaters are about 1500w

I have a ups that constantly monitors power usage and displays it on a small LCD screen
I believe you, but there is significant potential for higher power consumption in a gaming PC. Mostly from multiple high-end GPUs rendering complex scenes at high resolutions and high framerates. 600 watts or more is not unheard of. Space heater is an exaggeration for sure.
If you use a single sub 300$ graphics card, and consumer socket modern cpu, that's not an issue
And single sub 300$ graphics card is all you'll ever need for 1080p gaming for the foreseeable future
Anything else is just exotic mess
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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by randomizer » Thu Jul 20, 2017 1:42 am

I did exactly that growing up and survived.
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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by Angelus359 » Thu Jul 20, 2017 3:54 am

Pajamas wrote:Have you considered encouraging him to build a motorcycle instead?

Seriously, the primary problem that I can see here is that the time spent gaming could interfere with his school work and social life, not the fact that he wants to spend his hard-earned money building a computer. It is a very common issue and it's not just restricted to teenagers or gaming. Many older people are addicted to screens, too, from smartphones to televisions. People with ADD may also be at greater risk.

Sit him down and talk about your expectations and concerns about school and other activities and come to an understanding on some basic rules so that gaming doesn't take over his life. For instance, you might not want to let him keep the computer in his bedroom and you might want to set a limit on the number of hours he spends gaming, especially during the week, and no gaming for a week before exams or until homework is done nightly. You might even ask him what he thinks would be reasonable rules as a starting point for discussion.

Also, a gaming computer is optimized for gaming but can be used for most anything. It will probably run Windows and that will be good experience for him as well since he currently uses Chrome.
"For a week before exams"...

These days, it's not uncommon for kids to have exams nearly every week

No gaming until homework is done is totally fair though
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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by Youngblood » Thu Jul 20, 2017 4:55 am

Probably all relative. I recently read a news blurb that young men are choosing to stay out of the work force in order to play computer games.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by Tamarind » Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:20 am

Yes.

First, his money and it won't hurt him. My fiancee loves building gaming PCs more than gaming itself, and she saves her overtime earnings to upgrade every few years. No different than other hobbies that can require large depreciating purchases, like kayaking, golf, etc. This is a normal thing for an adult to do and a valid goal for short term taxable savings.

Do you really want to teach him that when he picks a (legal) goal he cares about, makes a plan, works hard toward it, and successfully executes on the plan......that parents will stop him because they don't understand the value of the goal?

However, the decision of how much time he should spend playing is one in which you should have a hand.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by EagertoLearnMore » Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:21 am

As a parent I would give your son the benefit of reaping the rewards of HIS hard work for the following reasons:

1. His maturity in setting goals, working hard, saving for the computer
2. Motivation, concentration and determination to do above
3. Building the computer will provide life skills and knowledge for future jobs
4. The experience may prompt a decision to major in computer science or determine he definitely does not like it
5. With so many people wasting time doing so many unproductive things this shows that he has a goal
6. If the process fails, he has learned several life lessons including money management, career decisions, and time management
7. I also believe this could be a bonding experience with your son if you get on board, show interest, and perhaps participate.

Best of luck to your son. He sounds as though he is doing quite well despite the ADD. Saying no may totally frustrate him and just provide no incentive for working towards a goal. After all, we invest and save for the future for the intention of using the money.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by blaugranamd » Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:34 am

He's in high school. He doesn't need to be mature enough to start a Roth IRA yet and, IMO, having the ethic to save period to get to this point is a good lesson as well. I dropped a similar amount of :moneybag :moneybag :moneybag on a gaming computer out of high school when I started college. Sure, in retrospect it's was giant time suck but I ended up a Boglehead and a physician anyway. Don't over think this. Maybe this will inspire him to learn about computers, networking, and form the foundation of a career. Or he'll just have fun. We here obsess over value, net worth, etc at the expense of experiences, learning, and more too often on this board.

ADHD has very little to do with it. Just stay consistent with limits about computer time usage and completing his other requirements beforehand. The MOST important thing at his current stage of development is INVOLVING him in the discussion about what rules and limits will be while he lives in your home. Be open, fair, and most importantly let him help develop appropriate limits that you both can agree upon. Teenagers need independence and to feel like they are being allowed to make decisions and be trusted and you must not undermine that. Being an involved, consistent, even-keeled parent is FAR more important for your child's development into a productive, competent, well-adjusted adult.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by engineer1969 » Thu Jul 20, 2017 5:58 am

Given this will be a nice machine, he could also do his school work on it (and take it to college).

He will have a highly valuable item which he earned and purchased. If he hasn't shown respect for material items this may be his first window into seeing why it is important.

Its fun! I don't see a downside.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Jul 20, 2017 6:12 am

EagertoLearnMore wrote:As a parent I would give your son the benefit of reaping the rewards of HIS hard work for the following reasons:

1. His maturity in setting goals, working hard, saving for the computer
2. Motivation, concentration and determination to do above
3. Building the computer will provide life skills and knowledge for future jobs
4. The experience may prompt a decision to major in computer science or determine he definitely does not like it
5. With so many people wasting time doing so many unproductive things this shows that he has a goal
6. If the process fails, he has learned several life lessons including money management, career decisions, and time management
7. I also believe this could be a bonding experience with your son if you get on board, show interest, and perhaps participate.

Best of luck to your son. He sounds as though he is doing quite well despite the ADD. Saying no may totally frustrate him and just provide no incentive for working towards a goal. After all, we invest and save for the future for the intention of using the money.
This.

Funnily enough, when one of my kids got a severe concussion, the neurologist said no classes for a little bit, no tests for a month, but video games were okay as long as they were fun but not stressful. We followed doctor's orders (well, except for one troglodyte teacher, but that's a story for another day) and he turned out fine.

I also wish your son luck. :D

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Thu Jul 20, 2017 6:30 am

If you want to teach him money management, do what my dad did when I wanted to buy my first car. I had to have double the money in the bank before I could buy a car.

Both my kids have gaming computers. My older son is 21 and continues to have interest in gaming. Over the summer, he sold some of his old Legos to pay for a seat and extruded aluminum setup and built up a driving simulator with 3 27" monitors and his wheel/pedal setup. He's also figured out how to use facial recognition and a camera to interface with his game so when he looks left, right, up, down, the images on the monitors move to follow where he's looking.

For your son, once he's got a setup, you should have clear rules. Ours for our 16 year old during the school year is no gaming when the next day is a school day. When allowed, he must first ask permission and is then given a time limit. He sets a timer and is off when the time is up.

You also have to carefully monitor and research any games he's playing. That's a whole other ball of wax.
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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by bottlecap » Thu Jul 20, 2017 6:31 am

I know nothing about ADD or ADHD.

However, it's his money and, if it is a mistake, it's his to make.

I say don't stand in the way. Explain to him your concerns, maybe ask about cheaper alternatives, and let him make the decision. He'll either have a great experience building a computer, learn a valuable lesson in finance, or both.

You still get to tell him when he's gaming too much.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by in_reality » Thu Jul 20, 2017 6:39 am

I don't know to best make it work, but generally the goal is to make rewards contingent. If use of the computer is the reward for keeping up his grades, then that's ideal. A little bit easier said than done I think, and the implementation counts I think.

Good luck and please update the thread with whatever you decide and however it works out. Thanks.

I think also perhaps I'd make it clear that I don't want it to be a battle on whether or not the criteria for use were met and reserve the right to be the sole judge of that. I'd get agreement on that in writing. (I know how that sounds but there have been times when we've had to go back to a written agreement in order to get compliance - maybe mine is a little more over the edge though).

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by ponyboy » Thu Jul 20, 2017 7:15 am

Watty wrote:When my son as about that age he made a MAME machine with a little bit of my help.
This also teaches your son how to acquire things illegally. But you probably own every single game for each rom/emulator you downloaded...right?

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by DaftInvestor » Thu Jul 20, 2017 7:26 am

Did you ask whomever diagnosed your son with ADD what they think? I can't speak to ADD.
If not for the ADD diagnosis I'd certainly allow it but with proper expectation setting about grades coming first especially given he is entering AP classes which can be very challenging and also that he is entering the year whereby his grades will be most looked at by most colleges.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by jlcnuke » Thu Jul 20, 2017 7:30 am

I think everything I would consider a potential downside about this could be avoided with the phrase "set clear expectations/limits/rules for his use of a gaming computer".

The absolute worst case scenario is he becomes addicted to computer games and plays them at the expense of his other responsibilities. A problem which proper parenting and rules should fix.

The next "worst case" scenario I can foresee is he fails in building the computer (breaks expensive parts etc). This seems exceptionally unlikely to me, understanding that I've build many and it's really quite simple to do without breaking something if you take just the smallest bit of care in assembly. Even if he does manage to break something, that would be a life lesson for him too, and a relatively inexpensive way to learn that what he spends his hard earned money on needs to be carefully considered in the first place and then protected if it is to last. Another good teaching moment potential there.

Ideally, he gets to enjoy the fruits of his labor with the purchase he wants, learns something about technology, and learns/is taught how to properly balance his passions (gaming in this case) with his responsibilities (school and other parts of life) even when his passions are providing a new opportunity for enjoyment.

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Re: Would you let your teenager spend all his savings on a gaming computer?

Post by F150HD » Thu Jul 20, 2017 7:33 am

markfaix wrote:My son, a rising high school junior, has saved $1500 through summer jobs, chores, gifts, etc. He now wants to spend almost all of it on a gaming computer that he plans to build this summer. He has been talking about this for over a year. I am conflicted about whether we should allow him to do this.

The only purpose of this computer is gaming.
Is he college bound? Is this machine something he'll take to college Freshman year too? There's value in that, though prob easier to have a laptop in college versus a desktop tied to a location in ones dorm room.

Building a computer (a tower) is a good experience. He'll have to purchase all the parts independently (CPU, drive, graphics card, RAM, network card, motherboard etc) and assemble etc. A good experience IMO. Maybe it could lead to interest in a career. But that its just for 'gaming' is a concern. If he were using it to build websites or to code or something, different story IMO. Hardware is cheap compared to X years ago.

Maybe make it a parallel requirement that if he does do this, he has to take a course at the local Jr College in data structures or coding (C, C++, web design etc). You cover the cost of the class. Definitely value in that IMO.

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