What’s My Deal With Video Games

I love the fact that I have two boys.  I am a tomboy at heart so I enjoy many of the things Cooper and Cole are interested in.  Things like sports, cars, trucks, Star Wars, rock music, etc, but there are other things that boys are into that I just don’t get.  Things like guns, bugs and video games.

Just recently Ken received a Wii Game System and I was a bit apprehensive about it.  Cooper and Cole (Cooper especially) love video games, although technically they don’t have a true video game system.  We do have a Smart Cycle and a Leapster Explorer but the games associated with these things are educational.

My boys would play these games all day if I let them and now we have a Wii in our house.  I remember when Ken was younger he would sit for hours playing video games and I have seen my nephew do the same thing.  I don’t want that for Cooper and Cole.

Now this is just my opinion, but to me it’s sad to see kids walking through the store or sitting at a restaurant with their parents with their head buried in their Nintendo or PS3.  Why can’t they be talking to their parents or vice versa why aren’t the parents talking to their kids?  This is what I want to avoid.

I know some of you reading this are laughing at me right now, saying “Just Wait!”

I know I can’t avoid video games forever.  Cooper and Cole are boys and there will be guns, bugs and video games in my future.  I am just trying to hold off these things as long as I can since I think there are better ways for them to spend their time.  I want my boys to be able to sit and have a conversation with me or be willing to be a part of a shopping trip or a family dinner.

Now I know video games are not bad and are not solely responsible for kids withdrawing into the game.  It’s my responsibility as a parent to control the amount of time they play with video games and what games I allow them to play.

Who knows…maybe there are some educational games on Wii.  Maybe I should relax a little and let boys be boys and have some fun.

Filed under: Brothers, Children, Toys

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  • I think if you aren't educated enough on the subject, you should neither write about it nor let it into your children's lives. Head buried in a PS3 at a restaurant?

  • As a parent, I can't stand them. Just like all electronics, the moment you purchase them, they are outdated. I admit that there are some educational games that are very good, especially for youngsters. However, all the other games just seem to be a re-hash of the same thing - chase something, catch something (or shoot something), score points. It's just seems to be a matter of how much gore you want your kids to see. A total waste of time.

  • I too have held out as long as I could. I read the book "Ghost in the Machine" before my first was born and it had a big influence on my choices when it came to technology and my children -- basically, the less the better. I want them to develop their physical and emotional skills in the real world, and I don't care if the video game (or TV show for that matter) purports to be educational.

    Ironically, my husband makes video games for a living, so I've gotten some pushback there. So far, the only game he has played with the kids is Viva Pinata. I must admit it's pretty cute but it's still not my favorite way for them to spend time. As for the game he made -- Fear 3 -- I hesitate to have the kids even visit his office because the artwork from the game is displayed on the walls and it's hideously gory.

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    Here's a kicker:

    If your kids are spending their time playing video games at home, you don't have to worry about what they may be up to at the park or at a friend's house. I'm the biggest proponent of exercise and social interaction, but when kids have nothing to do at home, they'll seek their fun in other ways. Seriously, if your kids are excited to come home or stay home, is that something bad?

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    Oh, I forgot to mention:

    It's certainly much better than plopping down in front of the TV and mindlessly watching hours and hours of cartoons or sitcoms. Even games that are not marketed as "educational" are pretty good for your noggin. The days of Pacman and Asteroids is long gone. You'd be surprised as to how complex games are these days.

  • Lisa, all your worries were mine as well. We now have a Wii and NintendoDS that are gathering dust. I think it all depends on how occupied we keep the children if they will get addicted. Also, it's the company they keep. If they are surrounded by people who only play video games then they will also only do this, but if not they won't. I also found that they will play intensely for a few days and then forget about it. Good luck.

  • @secondhand1: Completely agree. I started laughing as soon as I saw that comment.

    @Lisa: If you haven’t played and experienced the wealth of different (and yes, even educational) games available on today’s interactive entertainment systems (not just the Nintendo DS/3DS or PSP, but even smartphones and iPods), then you really should. You might find that you like them.

    Instead of resisting the inevitable, why not try getting into video games yourself? And do some research. You’ll find that the video game industry is shifting. In terms of demographics, 14-25-year-old males in their parents’ basements are not the only people playing games now. Women are becoming a larger target group, even for those games with guns and violence. It’s not unusual for grandparents to play games with their grandchildren, or for video gaming to be a fun social experience at parties. A number of organizations in the corporate space also are using some forms or elements of video games in their training and development. Video games truly are for everyone now: they can be played by and with people of all backgrounds. You might even say that kids who aren’t at least familiar with how games work from a user standpoint could be at a disadvantage once they’re out in the real world.

    In terms of content, although there are plenty of violent video games (which do not, by the way, solely cause the kids who play them to be violent), casual and social games, like Farmville or Bejeweled on Facebook, are gaining popularity. There are games for learning new languages, improving math and verbal skills, solving puzzles, and learning rhythm. Video games can encourage creativity, leadership, and teamwork. Even games that reenact historical battles can help players learn about history or geographical locations. If you are really worried about the games your kids play, you can always check the ESRB ratings or set the parental controls on the video game system.

    Video games do not preclude kids from spending time with their families, developing social skills, going outside, or participating in a shopping trip. Maybe by taking up video gaming, you’ll actually find another activity that you can do and talk about with your kids.

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