Back when I was a perfect parent (you know, before I actually had real kids) I was a firm believer that my kids would never play video games. I rolled my eyes when I saw kids in public glued to a handheld device. I’d heard about the video game epidemic plaguing a generation of young people by taking away their ability to socialize in real life. The decision to withhold video games from my children seemed like an easy and obvious one.
Fast forward a few years and a few kids, and my stance on the video game debate has started to change. My son has a lot of energy and not a lot of attention span. Somewhere along the way, bringing along an iPad or Nintendo DS seemed like a great way to get him to stay quiet and happy when we go places that require a lot of waiting. He gets dragged to his sisters’ dance classes several times per week, and being able to hand him a device has made these waiting room hours much more pleasant for everyone.
Like lots of parenting decisions, the video game decision easily turns into a slippery slope. Several of my son’s friends have a Wii or Nintendo Switch, and now he is begging and pleading of one of those. It’s tempting to have a gaming system to use as “currency” for him (i.e. if you do all your homework and 20 minutes of reading, you earn XX minutes of video game time). However my initial concerns are still there. Will he become addicted and not want to engage in the creative and active play he does now? Do video games actually hinder social skills? Will he grow up to become one of those husbands that plays video games all the time?!
I’m still on the fence here but I’ve laid out the pros and cons:
Video Game Pros:
- fitting in with friends and peers who play video games
- can use as a reward (bribe) to encourage homework, chores, etc.
- Just Dance, Wii Fit, etc promote physical activity
- could give Mom and Dad opportunities for peace and quiet
Video Game Cons:
- less time doing other more brain-boosting types of play
- could get expensive
- could get addictive
- doesn’t help develop social skills
Moms and Dads, weigh in! Do you allow gaming systems in your house? What parameters do you set?