It was a nice afternoon inside the house. My six year old kids rotated playing with Lego’s, dolls, coloring in their coloring books, and watching kid shows on Netflix. It was chilly and damp outside with enough wind to make staying in, a welcome and cozy activity.
“Mama, can I play a video game?” one of my boys asked. “I guess so”, I replied. “You’ll have to take turns, though, and not argue.” “Ok!!” they excitedly agreed.
It started out fine. I have learned, though, that this mature, polite, mannerism is just temporary. What follows, just 30 minutes later, is a child who is frustrated, emotional, and sometimes even angry. And what causes this behavior is the simple statement from me that it’s time to turn off the game, OR it’s time for someone else to have a turn.
The thing is, my boys are sweet, loving, caring, and a joy to be around. All of their exceptional attributes are compromised, though, when playing video games. It’s hard for me to let a game system emotionally change my child. As parents we do not want our kids to be sad, hurt, or angry. And yet I have found that the thing I am presenting to them is causing just that.
So we are unplugging our children.
In place of the video games, they will color, cut, and use glue. In place of the games, they will build a fort out of Lego’s. They will ride bikes outside even when it is cold and they have to wear coats and gloves. They will get skinned knees, scratched elbows, and dirty faces. They will help with our outside chores and inside chores.
Instead of being sucked into a virtual world of animation that is controlled with their thumbs, they will start living in a real world controlled by their physical movements and mental thoughts. Instead of destroying a moving graphic, they will go destroy their rooms leaving a trail of mixed matched toy pieces in their wake, and then they will learn responsibility to clean up the mess. And I guarantee they will learn more about being creative and problem solving than they ever will fighting some green, slimy, virtual monster.
And sure, sometimes I second guess my feelings. “Just lighten up – it’s all good with moderation!” I’ll scold myself. But for us, these games do nothing but offer 30 minutes of happiness followed by the aftermath of sadness.
Is it their age? Absolutely. When they get older, will they be able to enjoy these games? I would say, probably? But for now we have banned the games, in our home at least, for a long while. Because they just can’t handle it. There will always be exceptions to the rule, but I’m taking the stand that not all modern things are good for our kids. Just because someone makes a toy, it doesn’t mean it’s OK.
If you have young children and are faced with these issues, how do you handle it?