So, we have come to the point in our parenting journey where
our son noticed that other kids have video games that they play. Whether it’s
on smartphones, tablets, a portable game player, or a video game system, it
seems that these devices and the accompanying games have become an intricate
part of our children’s growth process.
I can remember growing up playing my friend’s Atari system,
or my other friends Coleco Vision. I was insanely bored playing these games, so
it was always my last choice. I guess there was some fun with these games, but
there was definitely no intellectual challenge. That all changed with Nintendo,
a revolutionary game system that made high quality graphic video games readily
available to more Americans than ever before. This was followed closely by the
Sega Genesis, and even my strict Eastern European parents bought me a Nintendo
for Christmas. It became not just a status symbol, but almost a requirement for
everyone you knew to have a video game system of some sort.
Now, the video game industry is more powerful than most
entertainment companies. The need and desire for new games outpaces most movie
opening nights…it is actually pretty scary to see how much video games are truly
a part of our children’s lives. The question then becomes…are these games good
for our kids?
The short answer is yes. They are not that bad for kids.
Parents are always looking to some sort of boogeyman answer as to why kids are
different from when they were kids, so I don’t believe that video games
increase violence or lead kids to anti-social behavior. What I do worry about
is the possibility for addiction.
Let’s face facts about our society. We are prone to
addictive behaviors across the spectrum. Whether it is television, music,
caffeine, sugar…even are most inane behaviors become addictive. I don’t like
seeing kids so hooked on video games, and yes, I have known many a person who
has spent weeks addicted to finishing a game and learning everything about it.
Is this healthy behavior? I don’t think so.
The one thing I will give video games is that they do teach
the player a variety of methods to achieve a goal, and an instant feeling of
gratification when that goal is met. This is actually a useful life skill from
such a surprising source. I would just hate for our kids to become dependent on
video games for this goal fulfillment, and hope that the need to achieve goals
can transcend the imaginary and become reality.
In the end, we decided to let Lucas play on our old Nintendo
Wii, which we own only because everyone has to have at least one video game
system, right? Thankfully he is fully satisfied playing full body dancing
games, because I could not take a five-year-old wanting to play any other kind
of video game yet!
Labels: Kids, video games