Monday, December 20, 2010

why we don't have a video game system in our house (yet?)

It's Christmas time. The time when those of us in the No Video Game Camp start to question how dedicated we are to saying NO to Wii, XBox, PS3 and a DS. I really don't mind if my kids play these at your house. I just don't want them in mine. I often run through this list mentally to remind myself why I fight the temptation to upgrade my coolness status with my boys.

1. Video games take over your thoughts. I know what it's like to be sitting in class and wishing I could just stop thinking about fitting Tetris pieces together.

2. Video games give you a false sense of accomplishment. I could place Sonic the Hedgehog with my eyes closed in high school. I'm not even exaggerating. Also, hearing my boys regale eachother with stories of conquering levels at the dinner table drives me nuts. I have no context to even feign interest. It's isolating.

3. Video games take away time that you could be making a real memory that's worth sharing or writing about some day. (I'm feeling the irony here, but this is cautionary, not inspiring!)

4. Video games kill imagination (because of their thought domination!). Now, I have to say the lack of video games has inspired video-game-like imaginations. My boys used to pretend to be in a video game while we drove around town.

5. Video games would be the FIRST thing I would take away if I were going to discipline my kids. I don't want to give my kids a gift that I KNOW I would take away almost daily. (I feel the same way even if they were to invest in it themselves. So I've squashed the idea of saving for it.)

To be perfectly clear, my kids have played plenty of Webkinz and computer-based video games. But, because it's on my computer, it's very limited compared to what it would be if they had their own system.

Which brings me to number...

6. If they DID have their own system, I wouldn't regulate it enough. I would SOOOO enjoy the peace and quiet it would bring that they'd play it forever (when they weren't grounded from it, of course).

related post to follow shortly...


Mandy said...

Thanks for giving me some things to think about! My mother-in-law got the boys a used Wii for Christmas. I am adamantly opposed to hand-held game systems (which I think are harder to control their usage), but I was "okay" with the Wii. I have never played many video games, but the Wii sports looks like something we can do together as a family and less of the type of system that robs them of their imaginations.

Two ways you have challenged me:

1. I know I would be the mom that took away the video games first as discipline. You make a really good point about that!

2. It's a slippery slope. What I see as an innocent enough game to play as a family could easily turn into different and more games that could pose more of a problem.

Thanks for the post!

Kevin said...

"It's isolating". Couldn't agree more. Beyond the mind-numbing effect, my concern is that video games rob my children of basic social skills. It happens when my oldest talks his grandmother into letting him borrow her smartphone because it has a few games on it. What's he do? He isolates himself in the middle of all his family. It's disturbing.

Also, I wonder if there's ever been a comprehensive study done on how the 20- and 30-year olds of today who were "gamers" earlier in life compare, economically and otherwise, to non-gamers.

Clint and Amanda said...

love the post. Agree to the fullest. Always enjoy the whit you bring to your posts. :)

Greta said...

In high school, when you could get Tetris on your graphing calculator, I played so much I would see it when I closed my eyes.
No lie.
That's not healthy.

Toiling Ant said...

Love your reasoning, and hey, you didn't even mention the addictive tendencies, rewiring of the brain, and dopamine squirts-- the neuroscience on this is fascinating (and disturbing). Stick to your guns and your kids will be better for it. :-)

Jenna said...

TOTALLY!!! I was thinking about that while I was running errands today. The boys TOTALLY get addicted and they have to come down off of the high. They are always grumpy and hungry after they play. It's weird. So much like drugs.

Allison Dillard said...

You know I'm on board with you----just last night we were eating pizza with the grandparents and Ethan was sitting at dinner with her iPhone playing some soccer game and totally in his own world. Like no response when they asked him a question. Makes me sick.

You can tell Miles that we are disappointing Ethan in the same way this Christmas---maybe they can start a support group.

Love you!

Laurie said...

Wisdom spoken (written)! Trueness.

Kelly @ Love Well said...

Oh my word, Jenna. I loved this post.

For the record, I did buy a Wii for Christmas this year. My husband was ambivalent, but I was convinced it would be a good way for our family to bond indoors. I got a great deal on it right after Thanksgiving, and my parents got the kids an extra game.

But I never felt peace about it. I would talk about it with Corey who would look at me and say, "You know how I feel. Do whatever you think best." And I would waffle some more.

In the end, I decided NOT to give it to the kids. I felt like it was an extravagance we don't need, and while I still think it could be fun for our family SOMEDAY, our two youngest kids are too young for it now, which means it would mostly be the older two. (And then it would mostly be our 7-year-old son who is already addicted to games on the laptop.) Add all the reasons you mentioned, and I feel confirmed in my decision.

Now to return it to Target without the kids seeing it....