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What About Video Games?

March 6, 2014

Super Mario Brothers

A few weeks ago Austin looked over at me and asked if we’re going to let our kids have video games. The conversation followed its normal pattern when it comes to parenting decisions:

Me: What?
Austin: I said are we going to let our kids play video games?
Me: I don’t know. What do you think?
Austin: I don’t know. Probably?
Me: I was thinking probably not.
Austin: Okay so probably not?
Me: Well, maybe…

Of course this isn’t a problem now. Our toddler has no idea what Nintendo is and our infant has no idea what her hand is, but it won’t be long.

Here’s the thing about video games, they can be the worst! They are added screentime, added violence, added non-imaginative, non-active, non-real life play.

They can also be really, really fun.

My sister and I weren’t allowed to have video games until all of a sudden we were. It was a long battle, and then one week before Christmas in the late 90s, my sister and I found the pile of gifts in my parents’ bedroom closet and in it was a brand new Nintendo 64. We danced up and down the hallway for a half hour.

Admittedly our experience with video games was pretty mild. We were two girly girls playing girly girl games like Mario and Yoshi story and Chameleon Twist. We weren’t addicted or obsessed with it. There were no war or machine gun games. It was just another fun thing to do.

We played well together.

Having a son changes things.  The simulated graphic violence in many games terrifies me. I hear you say that they are okay and it’s not real life and that research shows it doesn’t make kids more violent, and that’s great! I am not parenting your children. I’m just worried about mine.

The tiger mom in me wants to draw a hard line. Throw up my hands and say absolutely not and go practice your violin insteadBut the truth is I know it’s not all bad. I know it can be fun and harmless and family friendly. I know you can monitor the content and how long they play and still have fun, competent, imaginative children. I know we’ll probably have some sort of not-murdery game eventually.

I also know this is a sensitive topic. Many of our spouses or children or nieces and nephews play Mortal Kombat and are fine.

I know we want to protect those we love.

This is a safe space. What are your thoughts on video games?

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