kids and gaming

Real play for boys
Real play for boys

I often feel as though this whole parenting gig has me overthinking pretty much everything. And then I look at the world, and what it’s become, and I have to remind myself that the life of a kid has become seriously complicated. As parents we struggle against this complicated, fast-paced, technology obsessed, hyper-consuming, information overloaded, crap food driven world. There is a lot to overthink, and I’m swimming upstream through most of it.

I’m a bit of a screen Nazi with my kids, and so far I haven’t seen any evidence that this is a bad thing. TV had very obvious detrimental effects on my eldest son when he was little, and I made a decision back then to ban all screens. This decision morphed into a two hour movie night every Friday, which has been a happy compromise. Movie night has become a lovely tradition, and is also an exciting and relaxed way to finish the week for our little family. I’m also a little more relaxed on holidays and special occasions, where a bit of extra viewing might slip in. I guess I envisaged that this phase would last for ages. That technology wouldn’t infiltrate my kids lives further for quite a while, but in todays world, that is simply not possible. I know it’s going to haunt me for the next decade or so, or at least until I’m no longer one of the grown-ups in charge.

The other night the boys (aged nearly 6, and 7 and a half) had a discussion (with their Dad) about when they could start playing Mine Craft. My first thought when I heard about it, should probably have been to research Mine Craft and find out exactly what it was. But my actual first instinct was NO. A screaming, never, ever, ever NO. Now I understand that I am truly swimming upstream on this one, but I’ve since had a great conversation with another Mum, and I’m feeling slightly better about things now. I tip my invisible hat to her, for her inspiration on the topic.

She had this exact scenario in her home, and her answer was that before any of her children could play online games, they need to be able to read. Properly read. Fluent, flowing reading of chapter books by interesting and engaging authors, not just simple ‘learning to read’ books. She feels that books will take over her son’s world, stimulating his imagination so deeply that computer games will pale into insignificance. And not only that, if he does want to play a game, and he can read…the screen time he uses for gaming becomes part of his allocated two hours a week.

I may simply be delaying the inevitable, but I am going to adapt this plan in our house, as my own gaming saviour for the time being anyway. I’m not just saying no, I’m not overthinking it (much), and it seems like the right thing to do. Until the next technology challenge, I almost feel at peace with this one…

Linked with Essentially Jess for IBOT