I'm Still That Dad (So Far)

Welcome back to another edition of my blog.  Before I get started, I want to thank everyone who has visited my blog and/or bought Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures.  It really means a lot.

Today’s title stems from the fact that I still do not own a Nintendo Wii or an XBox 360.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love these systems.  I had video games growing up, St. Joseph Children’s Home (where I learned most of my parenting skills) had an old Nintendo, and cost is not the central issue.  So what’s the holdup?  Everyone else has one, right?

Though I am the bad guy for this stance in my home, here’s the beef.  Today’s video gaming systems are too darn much fun.  Because of this, I have reasoned that the systems have the potential to stifle creativity.  What I am going to do is give a couple of arguments for my beliefs then guess a couple of counter arguments to address.  I hope this doesn’t sound like I am talking to myself on a computer but it just might!  It’s important for parents to consider these arguments even if they go ahead and buy a gaming system.

My Argument:  How many families (especially with boys) own a video game system; yet their children would rather read, draw, or play board games on a consistent basis?  I admit some of you probably do but the percentage would be interesting to know.  One thing cool about reading is that your mind has to be put to use to imagine what is going on in the story.  The same could be said for drawing or playing board games.  With a video game though, the brain doesn’t have to work in the same creative fashion.

Possible counter argument:  Can’t their be a balance between gaming and other creative outlets?

My Answer:  In theory, yes.  The problem is that the balance would have to be imposed by me.  Right now, I don’t force my children to use their creative outlets.  If I had a gaming system, that would be the first thing on their minds to do during down time.  In essence, I would be the bad guy for saying, “No.”  Currently, my children aren’t forced to use their creative outlets.  It happens naturally.  The dichotomy would be different though if I took away something they wanted to do (video games) and replace it with something they didn’t really want to do (read a book or go outside).

My argument:  Video games can be so much fun, they can be used as a crutch for parents to not parent.

For example, how many of you could place your kids in front of their favorite video game and leave them there for hours?  Really?  I bet I could too.  The thing is sometimes I’m lazy after a long day.  I’ll bet I could be easily tempted to let my kids play longer on their gaming systems than they should because it’s just so easy to do.  I’m not judging others but I know myself well.  On a side note, who says I wouldn’t enjoy playing the video games, thus stifling my own creativity.

Counter Argument:  Shouldn’t parents be responsible and monitor the time gaming?

My answer:  They should!  The problem is I know a lot of irresponsible parents and I’m merely passing on the temptation.

This blog could go on forever with points and counterpoints.  (Odds are I’ll write a chapter in a future book full of facts and details).  What I want you to understand though is that you may be taking an unintentional risk.  Creativity and hands on parenting are important skills.  It’s impossible to know how much they are stifled due to video games.  As a parent of a 7 and 3 year old, it’s a risk I’m not ready to take yet.

Therefore, I have decided to load my house with different things the kids find fun.  Outside, I have a swing, a 15 foot fort with a slide, basketballs, baseballs, soccer balls, etc….   Inside my home, I have books, a very messy playroom, pop-o-shot (basketball goal), a Foosball table, a crate of art supplies, board games, etc……  (I’m thinking a pool table or a bumper pool table could be next.)

We also have a YMCA that, along with a lot of great activities, has…….wait for it……… a Nintendo Wii.  Hey, I never said they didn’t play the games.  They’re just not playing them in my home.

I’ll be back on Friday with another post.  Just like with my previous blog, I am willing to answer some questions whether it is about the book, a previous blog post, or a general opinion (Dear Abby) type of question.

Video games for the people

Geez- even he is playing???

Finally, if you liked today’s topic, please share it with other parents.  I would really appreciate it!!!

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9 comments

  1. Holly says:

    Hello! Great post – very thoughtful. Games are big in our house because my husband is a semi-pro gamer. I know, weird, right? Our kids are still very little and have never played a game. My husband and I both agree that is good. I'm sure they will play in the future, however I must point out that having a parent so knowledgeable about what really is in each of these games works to our advantage. The saddest thing to me is when I see young kids being allowed to play certain games that their parents would likely not allow if they understood the games better.

  2. Kara says:

    Clay,
    As a pediatric occupational therapist, I can say you are right on with this one. Ask any therapist or P.E. teacher who has been working longer than a decade and they will tell you there has been a change in the coordination and learning abilities of "typically developing" kids (i.e. kids who have no official diagnosis, just a lack of skills). While anyone can debate whether or not a moderate amount of gaming activity is actually harmful to a child, there is no question that when a parent chooses to offer open-ended, coordination- enhancing activities as an alternative that it is more HELPFUL and promotes improved abilities. As an example, someone could argue that a child who spends vast amounts of time facing forward in one position watching short bursts of screen activity isn't necessarily harmed by the activity in and of itself- however, it is a valid point that there is a missed opportunity for the child to develop social skills, motor skills, visual perception skills, adaptive behavior skills, etc. by spending the same amount of time doing the types of open- ended, creative, movement oriented types of play you describe above. Well done.

  3. Twin Mamma says:

    Great blog…I will be visiting it often.

    I'm also returning your follow. Thanks!

  4. Christine says:

    I have to agree – it is high risk. Even though we are home schooling now, we no longer have cable (netflix only) and we limit game time – the temptation is too much for my 9 yr old who is always looking to barter game time instead of any other type of play. If I have to be the "mean" mom – then for the good of my kids, I am. BEst of Luck & I'll be checking back on you 😉

    New follower form the Tuesday Blog Hop!

  5. Christine says:

    Even though we home school the kids – its still too great of a temptation for even my 9 yr old to give in to the PS2 instead of other forms of creative play. I end up being a "mean" mom but so be it.

    New follower from the Tuesday Blog

  6. I have a 9 year old and he loves playing with the WII. I am sometimes tempted to let him play more than normal. But I find out he acts differently when he plays a lot with video games. so i started monitoring his play time and we bought bikes, hockey net, etc!! I find he feels much better when he plays outside with other kids
    Returning the love from Ourfamilyworld.
    Thanks for linking up to our hop.
    We are having another one today at 8pm EST. We would love if you link up

  7. Jessica says:

    Love this topic. Thanks for sharing it on the Thoughtful Thursdays linky. My younger son is addicted to his iPod and DS so we've set ground rules on when he's allowed to play them. If he does not abide by the rules, he loses the games for a day.

  8. I disagree. I game and have gamed all my life. I have active hobbies and have not found that it has hampered anything (I still game with my husband and his friends) and run a small business in my spare time. Although my children are to young now to game. I think these gaming systems have gotten a bad stigma. When you game you are activly thinking, planning and yes, even socializing. Technology is in our lives and I think it is better to introduce proper habits early instead of it being taboo. Moderation can be taught and should be taught early. It doesn't have to be one or the other, you can have extra ciricular activites and game. Although I must admit they probably won't be gaming alone..my husband and I will probably be gaming with them.

  9. Superb blog post, I have book marked this internet site so ideally I’ll see much more on this subject in the foreseeable future!