Sunday, January 10, 2010

The "modern" family moment

Just was watching television while eating breakfast and watched an extremely disturbing commercial. A mother and her three children were in a family room and the mother was saying something about how she thought her son was going to take it harder when he was beat by his little sister .... at a video game. Then the commercial goes on to say Walmart helps make great family moments and advertises the Wii.

So great family moments include just playing video games now? Staring at a screen and numbing your mind to the point that you get to beat your bigger brother? This seems so wrong to me on so many levels.

To say I really dislike video games is the understatement of the century; I loathe them. I feel they kill your creativity and numb your mind. Some might argue playing video games help you build strategical skills, which may be, but the majority of games I have come across aren't exactly building brain power.

One aspect I absolutely can't stand is how usually playing video games isolates someone. It is really difficult to carry on a conversation with someone who is playing a game.

I'm not going to kid myself though, I will be raising a child sometime in the next ten years so I am going to grapple with how to handle the whole video game situation. As of now I am against having a gaming system in the home, but if I have a child who wants it I might have to reconsider.


  1. Hi Traci!

    I love video games :) .

    Games can supplement social interactions (playing Wii games with family, playing games online with friends or family from other areas of the globe, etc).

    "Why not play Monopoly, Battleship or Scrabble, or fly a kite, or climb a tree or ... ?" ... why not? You can do all of those things *and* get your butt kicked by your future 10-year-old at Wii Bowling.

    I think the abuse of video games is the problem, not games themselves. The 12 year old who can't be separated from his PSP/Playstation/Xbox360 didn't get there overnight.

    Here's what I think (because you asked, right?):

    - Give your kids impulse control. Don't let them play for hours and hours by themselves. Limits, limits, limits.
    - An XBox is not a babysitter or an educational tool on its own. With supervision, it can spur creativity and start conversations.
    - Know what they're playing. Video games are not "all the same" unless you've never played one. Ask your trusted geek what "mass effect 2" is and if it's ok for your 8 year old to play.
    - Ask your kids their view of what they're playing, what they see, what they enjoy about it. Discuss their game strategies and what they're picking up from the game. Play their games with them. Get them to write (yes, write!) about their experiences, talk about game music, etc.
    - Kick them out of the house. Make them play in the yard and get involved in sports and activities they might like.
    - Start early. Not with video games, but with lessons about responsibility, impulse control, social activities, moral and ethical issues, respect, etc.

    IANAP (I Am Not A Parent), but I think it's possible to have smart, social, healthy kids who play video games. I'll let you know in a few years how that works out ;) .


  2. Thanks for the input/advice. Gives me a lot to think about. Everything in moderation is a good phrase to use in this situation and while video games might not be something I enjoy I am positive it will bring my future children happiness.