Saturday, October 20, 2012

Kids and Games–A Follow Up

I've had a few comments on the facebook link for this post and I just want to make something a bit more clear, now that rant mode is off. 

My kids will play video games, it's silly to think that they would not because I will have the latest Nintendo in my house.  However, I will be the one that controls the amount of time they play and the type of content they are playing.

It won't be a distraction machine, and they will not be playing games that I think are inappropriate.  I'll know all about their games because I will be playing them *with* my children, or at least before they do.

More than that I’ll be controlling the content that they see and hear even if it is not a game that they are actually playing.

I’ll provide you with examples.

For those that do not know my entire history, I used to have a step daughter.  When she was 8 we got her a GameBoy Advance, I think it was for Christmas.  It was the original version even though the SP was out, because it was cheaper.  For that system she had a really annoying, but totally non-offensive Hillary Duff game where she drove a little car around a map to pick up friends and go to the mall and stuff.  She had one of the new Frogger adventure games and that was so that she had something she had to read to play.  That might have been it. (because I had Mario games that she played as well, but I wasn’t buying two copies) The situation is a bit different since she was a girl and not too many little girls want to play games where people shoot each other.  Being an original GBA, to play she had to have the right light and so she did not play it that often, and it was reserved mainly for rainy days.  I think it’s fair to say that being 24 or so at the time my views on the whole situation were not as strong as they are now, but I did check out reviews of her games first.

If we skip ahead a couple of years we get to a situation where she is about 10 I think and we have a Wii.  My pal Damion has the game Scarface for Wii and tells me how awesome it is. It’s cheap at futureshop and so I pick it up.  You can just imagine the swearing and violence involved in a M rated Scarface game.  So how did that all work out?  Simple, I didn’t play it when she was home and awake.  At All.  If she was in bed I would play it with the sound off, like right off.  I censored when *I* would play a game or how I would play it for the benefit of my child.

I’m not seeing the whole thing as a black and white issue, but I know that there are certain games that are right for a certain age.  And in controlled, supervised amounts I would let my four year old play a Mario game, or Lego Batman or the like.  However, if there was no game system in my house (like that will ever happen) I wouldn’t buy one for them at that point.  There is also no way that I would personally buy my kid a $200 portable system, even a $100 one for that matter before they are even old enough to ask for one!  I’ll have that system for myself, and to spend some Dad time on a day where we can’t go outside and we’ve already played with cars on a mat, and built a fort on the couch and pretended to be pirates or something maybe then I’ll let that system be played.

I love games, I’ve had a Nintendo from when I was 10 years old, my friends had Nintendos and computers growing up.  They were never our first choice of something to do when visiting, and they were not allowed to be even if that is what we wanted.  Our parents made us go outside, run, play hide and seek, use our imaginations, play with rocks, ride bikes and explore in the woods.  Games have their place, I totally agree, but it’s at the end of that list.


  1. My son is 5. He has a Wii. The games are very age appropriate - Mario Kart, Cars, Toy Story. We impose time limits on video games. He has access to our old iMac which has parental controls in place. The websites he can visit are previewed by me and all have some educational slant to them. Between the Leap Pad, DVD player, WII, etc. my son certainly knows his way around technology. We don't have a house phone so he has to know how to use my iPhone, but he knows not to touch it without permission. I have apps especially for him in a folder with his name on it. This is very useful when we are waiting in a long line or at a restaurant waiting for our food.

    It is possible to expose children to the latest technology and games without overdoing it. Despite all the tech options available to my son he is right now drawing roads on a poster board for his matchbox cars. He has been at it for almost an hour and it's not even 8am! He loves to play police and firefighter outside. His imagination is incredible. However, on a rainy day when running outside is not the most desirable option a little Just Dance or Sports on the Wii is a great way to release some energy.

    1. That is exactly the type of thing I am getting at. You have made a point of having the things, but not having the tech control your kid. I think that is how a lot of folks my age grew up, the video games were there, but they were not the first or only option.

      My rants here are based on the folks that have no control, not the ones that are doing it right!