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My school is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). This has a lot of benefits in terms of technology, but it also gives us no control over what is on the laptops kids bring into class. During lab time, kids will often try to sneak in game playing. This year, I made a policy that, if I catch someone playing a video game during class, they will owe me a small project. This has reduced game playing quite a bit from my previous technique (which was just telling them to cut it out), but the problem persists.

How do you prevent kids from playing games during lab periods and during lectures?

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    $\begingroup$ I get the same in my computer lab, using computers provided by the school. I find that consequences, and praising good behaviour work. $\endgroup$ – ctrl-alt-delor Jun 1 '17 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ A technical solution may work as well. Most games that are enticing enough to play when they shouldn't be require Internet access. If the IT dept. can block those addresses from the APs that cover the classroom(s), or from the school's network as a whole, they will be forced to use mobile data to play. The co$t of that might slow them down some. $\endgroup$ – Gypsy Spellweaver Jun 7 '17 at 11:47
  • $\begingroup$ You don't. It's their device. If they're old enough to bring their own laptop, they will do what they will will do. Your class simply (hah!) needs to be more engaging than the game. You might actually encourage modding games, since that is a programming skill set. Minecraft is particularly open to modders, but many other popular games are as well. $\endgroup$ – pojo-guy Jun 29 '17 at 4:32
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I semi jokingly tell my students at the beginning of the year they can play any game they want on the computers, as long as they write it first. It at least gets a laugh.

For me it takes two things.

One, I need to be able to see their screens. Given, this is probably much easier with school provided devices. When I moved into the classroom I'm in all of the student seats were facing forward with the monitors facing away from the teacher. First thing I did was push all the desks to the wall so that the monitors are facing the center of the room. I can see almost every monitor from almost any spot in the room. This also helps getting to students to help them since I don't have to squeeze through rows. It does help that I have a pretty big classroom though.

And two, I need to keep them busy. What I've found is that once there's a student playing games it spreads. And the first one usually isn't playing because they're screwing around. They're probably done with their assignments. I throw more assignments at a class than most students will be able to finish - some are extra credit. I also have a list of enrichment activities that they work on when done with labs - Coding Bat, Code Combat, Project Euler, making their own game, that sort of thing. That way there's always something CompSci related to work on.

We are partially BYOD in that kids are free to bring their devices, but aren't required to. There's always a handful of students that prefer to work from their own notebooks. My rule on that is that they're free to do so, until I catch them screwing around on something else. Then, they have to use the school computers. For most, that's enough incentive to keep on task.

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  • $\begingroup$ My students are not to bring laptops, tablets, phones to class. There is a tool I could use to see their screens, but the idea makes my skin crawl. Your approach of "no dark corners" seems more natural to me. Even so, they are adults, and I neither feel I should nor wish to watch to see that they are using class time well. Maybe I am too introverted to feel comfortable intervening in someone else's self-management in such a way? $\endgroup$ – user737 Jun 17 '17 at 15:37
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    $\begingroup$ I use the "you can play games you write yourself as well." Sometimes the kids actually do write a game and play it. Then I tell them to make the game better. :-) $\endgroup$ – Alfred Thompson Jun 22 '17 at 16:02
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I wonder if it's worth pointing students to games that might help with CS ideas. Some examples:

I'm sure there are plenty of others. Not sure I'd use them in every lesson, but they might be a useful incentive towards more purposeful use of the devices they bring.

I know one school where in free time pupils are only allowed to play games they've coded themselves...

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