Thursday, February 27, 2014

About Video Games

Reading negative comments about unimaginative children that play video games and awful parents that let them is making me feel irritated. Faithful Christian families can let their children play video games.

When Holden was seven years old, he asked for a Nintendo Game Cube.  He had heard several of the boys in his second grade class talking about the video games they enjoyed playing. Chris and I discussed it and decided to buy him a used Game Cube for Christmas. Chris bought a used Game Cube from an acquaintance. It came with one game, The Legend of Zelda Wind Waker. Christmas morning Holden opened his Nintendo game Cube, thanked us profusely, and immediately wanted to start playing. We let him, and he was instantly pulled into Link's quest. The game was not easy for him as he was only seven and half years old, but he had learned how to read in Kindergarten, so he was able to read the story and the game prompts and eventually (months later) finish the game. We limited the time he played the game. Honestly, he did not have a lot of time to play the game. He was in school all day, took piano and tennis lessons, and had homework regularly. We spent our weekends visiting with friends and family, and attending Sunday School and church services.

Holden on the family computer.

The Game Cube and The Legend of Zelda started a passion in Holden for what I call quest playing games or what Holden refers to as RPGs. Since receiving the Game Cube, Holden used Christmas and birthday money to buy a Xbox 360 and a PlayStation 3. Once he started working, he spent many months researching and building a fancy gaming computer. It cost about four times as much as our family computer. As the individual pieces arrived at the house, they sat in their boxes, safe until the final piece arrived. Then he carefully assemble the computer. His excitement for the computer was contagious. Thomas and Ralph can not touch it, but Chris and I always have access to it. After all, he his our son, this is our home, and he knows how we feel about privacy when it comes to computer usage.

When Holden turned seventeen years old last year, he gained the ability to walk into the game store and buy all the Mature rated video games on the shelf, but he will not do that. He knows that there are games that we will not allow in our house, and thankfully he has not interested in those games.

Playing video games is not the only thing that Holden spends his time doing. He has schoolwork, and he works at a local pizza place about thirty-five hours a week. He has friends, plays basketball, and exercises regularly. He plans to attend college to earn a degree is diagnostic medical sonography. And he reads. A lot. His time spent reading is equal to the time he spends playing games.

Thomas also enjoys playing video games. He is a lover of The Legend of Zelda games. He also likes the Lego Harry Potter and Star Wars games, and the online game Minecraft. Thomas and Ralph enjoy playing Skylanders together. They also enjoy building Lego sets, playing board games, and running around the backyard and neighborhood with their cousins and friends. Also, they enjoy listening to Chris and I read to them and to audio books. Thomas reads books on his own, too.

Holden on his old, used laptop. It died a couple years ago.

There are four steps we take once one of our boys has asked to play a new video game.
Honestly, the same steps apply to books, movies, television shows, and even new toys.

1. We ask a lot of questions. Find out why he wants to play the game, and how he found out about the game. This first step helps us figure out how serious our child is about playing the game. If he can answer all of our questions, then he is probably very interested. If we get an uncertain answer, then he probably will forget about the game in a day or two.

2. We do our research. The internet is full of information and reviews, and we ask people we trust. One of the dads in our home school group is a gamer. (He has a career, a very happy wife, and three sweet girls, so put to rest the vision you have of him sitting on the couch all day ignoring real life.) His opinion has been helpful  many times when Holden has inquired about being able to play a certain game.

3. We wait. We have never run to the store or hit the purchase button at Amazon immediately. Once we decide that we will allow him to play the game, we still make him wait to get it, sometimes several months. Sometimes we hear about it daily, but a couple times his desire for the game left him.
We think the waiting period helps our boys understand that getting a new game is a treat, and waiting encourages them to take good care of it. This rule is not as important with Holden now that he is older. He is responsible with money and his things, once we complete step one and two we let him buy the games, and then we move down to step four.

4. Once he gets the game, we watch him play it for a little while and encourage more conversation about the game once playing time is over.
It helps them flesh out whether the game was worth the time and money involved, and it keeps us informed so that if something questionable arises we can address it immediately.

Thomas and Ralph playing Skylanders.

Unfortunately, it is true that some children sit around playing video games all day and play games that are too mature for them. Also, it is sad that some parents do not want to spend time with their children, so they allow them to sit in front of a television or computer all day. Even sadder still, is that some people want to spend time with their children, but they can not because of their family situation. Another sad situation is when a person feels so superior (or so insecure) that they talk negatively about parents and children that do things differently than they do with their own family.

We are Catholic, and we homeschool our children. We love them and enjoy spending time with them because they are smart, funny, and kind. Playing video games is just one of the many things that our boys enjoy doing. We are sure the time they spend playing video games will not ruin their lives.

*Joining Jen at Conversion Diary this week for 7 posts in 7 days.*  

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this post. We are also Catholic and homeschool, and our boys play video games too, but are also involved in many other activities. Your approach and attitude is one I feel share. I just appreciate how you articulated it.


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