Do you think it’s important to play video games with our kids? Is not playing video games a way to voice our opinions that video games are “bad”?
There was an interesting article today in a South Carolinia newspaper, reporting that 43 percent of parents never play video games with their kids. Then it goes on to say that, “While experts debate whether electronic gaming is bad news or a blessing for children and their families, many parents are voicing their preference by never – or seldom – joining their kids when it’s time to slay cyber scoundrels.”
It got me thinking, because recently, I stopped playing video games. Yet, I have the opinion that video games are not inherently bad, or that spending time doing that is “a waste of time.” I have simply chosen to do other things.
My son and husband play instruments. I never play with them. I like to run and do yoga. They never do these things with me. Does this mean we harbor negative feelings towards each others’ interests?
Even when I was playing a lot of video games, it was rare that I played the same video games as my kids. They like games like Crash Bandicoot and Webkinz. I liked games like City of Heroes and Everquest.
So I’m reading this article, wondering what the research really means. Does it mean that nearly half of our country’s parents think video games are a waste of time?
Or is it, perhaps, that most people of parenting age didn’t grow up with video games on the list of recreational activities? Perhaps it doesn’t have that same draw?
Or maybe it’s that us parents really do have an issue with video games. (But not so much that we don’t allow our kids to play them.)
I grew up a gamer. I was one of the very first to have an Intellivision. I went to the video arcades after school. I had many handheld games (It’s how I learned the rules of football). And I built my first computer back when the 286 processor was new (I built it so I could play Zork and Wizardry.)
I grew up in a similar fashion as many of the kids today are growing up – plugged in and interactive. Minus the realistic violence.
Perhaps this gives me a unique perspective. This is why playing with my kids isn’t all that important. I remember what it was like to go to the used game store to trade my original Nintendo and GameBoy games. I can remember the thrill of reaching an electronic goal. I know what it’s like to lose 5 hours to a game and being late for class because of it. I’ve done it. I survived.
I rarely play games with my kids. But I understand my kids. I understand that a passion for video games is on the same level as a passion for music, sports, comic books, acting, art, cars, knitting or interior decorating. Any passion can be taken to the extreme. Any passion can be healthy, fun and worthwhile (so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, of course.)
So what’s keeping us from bonding with our kids when they play video games? Is it walking away that keeps us from bonding? Or is it an invisible wall that we put there by choice? And when our kids play video games, instead of being curious and asking about it like we would ask about a baseball game or an art class, we ignore it, or even bash it?
Coming from the experience of having a lifetime of video games, my kids love them and I don’t mind. But what I didn’t grow up with are cell phones and text messaging. I still don’t text message and I just starting using my cell phone more often. My kids aren’t into that yet (not quite old enough, and not in school to see all the kids with theirs), but one day they will be. It’s inevitable. The question I have to myself – will I be so accomodating and understanding about that as I am with video games – simply because I didn’t grow up with it?
What’s your take? Do you think that 1) not playing video games with our kids is a message to them that we do not approve of their playing? and 2) a main cause for our cultural inability for adults to embrace our children’s video game playing is our generation gap?