It’s funny the things that we are accustomed to doing, and what we swear we’d never let our kids do, and then we realize, you know what? It’s OK.
We play video games. We use electronics. Honestly, we have way too many in the house. Two computers, two tablets, a laptop (that is rarely used, but might be dragged out more that the kids get older), an iPhone, a Wii, Xbox 360, and various vintage video game consoles that we even have an old analog TV to play them on. This includes an Atari. Seriously. Like I said – TOO MANY.
But that’s getting sidetracked. I always swore that I wouldn’t let my kids be addicted to electronics. How I planned on accomplishing that, in this day and age, I have no idea. I mean, I’m not sure the last time I used a paper address book, touched a phone book, or used a real life map. Actually, I did use a phone book last week. I was on the cell phone talking to someone getting a phone number for a whale watching place online and the power went out. My first thought was, “Yikes! What do I do?!” And then I realized that there was a phone book still sitting on my front porch. I think it was delivered a few weeks ago maybe? Sure enough, you can still find a phone number in that archaic item. Can you believe it?
And I’m not sure that my oldest believes that you can find your way from one place to another using a highlighter, map, a few quick calculations of distances, and maybe a ruler should you want to be more precise than using the guestimate tactic.
But when it comes to video games, they see us play them. Sure, we limit the violent ones to after bedtime (first person shooter games, etc). And we try to limit how much they actually see us on the computer or phone. But it happens. They know it’s there. So we bought Aiden his very first video game.
And it is a MAJOR hit.
At first I was a bit worried about what he would be learning/doing/experiencing. I mean, how could an electronic game that is not designed to be educational really teach him anything?
Boy was I wrong.
So far we’ve learned: How to read a map, how to follow directions, how to problem solve, dexterity, how to listen to instructions, how different characters have different abilities, what the international sign for a hospital is, and that sharks live in the ocean. We’ve also learned how to use a ray gun, change the color of a sign, blow up buildings with dynamite, and all the other good things that a Lego game can teach us. We pretty much refer to it as grand theft auto for kids, as you can drive a car around and run over pretty much anyone and anything.
But in the end? He does twice as many chores in the house to earn time playing. We have imaginary play pretending to be superheroes and cops and space men. I can get laundry done without him getting excessively bored. We can read long books to him without him getting fidgety, and he actually pays attention.
So yeah. I take back any snide comments I ever made pre-kids about “those” parents that let their kids play video games. Now, a game boy at the restaurant table is pushing it over the line. And letting your kid play 10 hours a day where they get obese because they don’t play outside is too much. But a little bit every day? Where I can drink my coffee in peace? And maybe even have a good excuse to play the Wii while he’s awake without him getting upset he doesn’t know how? Totally worth it.