Right here at the beginning I’ll admit I am biased on this issue. Basically, I am against video games. This comes more from my experience as a teacher than as a parent. Have you ever tried to inspire a group of 12-year old boys and make them excited about history? It’s a tough job. Especially because most of them are just sitting there, staring into space. And later, during their free time, they’re talking excitedly with one another about the levels they reached. One of the boys I taught told me he had a website, even, devoted to video games. He never had time to do his homework, but he always had time to play games and even write about them.
So when the video game question came up in my household I was adamantly against bringing in any kind of system. But the boys wore me down once, and I soon saw the same kind of zombie-like behavior I had seen in my students. Not only that, one of my sons (no one would believe this if I told you which one) actually became somewhat aggressive and disrespectful after some time with the video games. So I packed up the system and put it in my closet.
These days many adults play the games also. I’ve never been into the more complex games, but I do play Tetris. And do you know what I’ve noticed? If I play a lot of Tetris often, spending more time than usual on the game on any given day, I soon start seeing the shapes in my mind. Those shapes invade my quiet times away from the screen, times I should be communicating with my family, even times when I should be praying. Tetris is a simple game compared to most, but what I’ve found is that it definitely does affect me.
So we don’t have any video game systems in our household these days. My older boys play them though. One of mine, my second, has a PS2 (I believe–I can’t always keep the systems straight). And my oldest recently asked me to send him Starcraft 2 in English–he’s overseas and even though he knows the language there I guess it’s just not the same. So I bought it. He has a wife and three kids, so I’m sure they’ll prevent him from getting too involved with the game.
Actually, last fall, I began to weaken on the issue and thought about buying a Wii. It looked pretty cool and I thought maybe that was something I could get into. But when I brought it up to my teenagers, they both rejected the idea. You know I was not going to push it.
There is so much of the world to experience and we should be experiencing it first-hand, especially when we’re young and healthy and full of energy. We wouldn’t be talking about an obesity problem in this country if our kids ran around outside and played the way kids used to do. And we wouldn’t be talking about low test scores if our kids spent their time reading rather than moving objects on a screen. Have you seen the way they stare? It is total concentration. I find it disturbing.
My advice: If you must have a video game system in your home, save it for the weekends. Better yet, save it for vacations and other special occasions. Encourage your children to experience life directly. Don’t let them become zombies.