Many of us (parents and teachers) complain about the amount of time our kids engage with video games. Have you considered why they enjoy it or how they might get similar enjoyment from other things? Below are some reasons our kids play games and some potential alternatives.
Competition – almost everyone enjoys some form of competition and video games provide that. Players get an adrenaline rush fueled by the game. Instead of exercising small muscles in the fingers, try the large muscles with games such as basketball or soccer. Provide an appropriate level of competition, so your child is competing with someone on a similar level.
Achievement – all video games provide some markers showing you’ve reached a new level. We do the same thing at school with students who reached the Kings Wall for achievement in Accelerated Reader or Kahn Academy.As an alternative set reasonable goals in other areas to provide markers of achievement. This could take the form of grades, chores around the house, a group run or walk event, scouting or hobbies.
Risk – much like competition, provides an adrenaline rush. Graphics have become so good on games now, it appears you’re in a live action situation. And virtual reality devices make the experience even more real. Try rock climbing, camping, singing in front of a crowd, giving a speech, or doing something for the first time.
Socialization – in recent years gamers have added the social dimension that has been lacking in the past. Now kids can play with other kids online. What about actually meeting with friends to play games? Retro games such as cards and monopoly are making a comeback.
Of course, not everything about video games is bad. I know several child-parent combos who work together on these games. There are also a few less violent games. However, the violence on most games is staggering. Check it out completely before allowing children to play, and as I've said before, know their passwords.
Blessings on your parenting,
Last year, the Harris Poll surveyed parents in the United States about the emotion most closely describing their feelings toward children. Far and away, the word used most often was concern. While there are some good things about this, there are also some dangers.
When we are concerned, we tend to ignore the things we can control (things that are our responsibility), and instead focus on things that are out of our control. We may rush to the defense of our child who is called an inappropriate name by another child. We may even throw in the word “bullying” for emphasis. But we can’t control that other child. Who is going to rush to the defense of our child who is allowed three hours of mindless screen time per day? That’s something we actually can control. Where is the “concern” for that?
Our priorities may be distorted when we become concerned. My daughter has a close friend who is a pediatrician. This young pediatrician was telling me about how many of her patients will not allow their child to be immunized. They don't want anything unnatural in their child's body. Yet many of the same parents are willing to put heavy metals under their skin in the form of tattoos. There is a priority that is definitely out of whack.
So what concerns you? Do you have control over it? If so, what action can you take? If you don’t have control over it, then praying is the best action to take. Jesus tells us, “Seek first the kingdom of God and all these other things will be added to it” Matthew 6:33.
As we move into the new year, resolve to turn things over in prayer to the Lord. Act on what you can control, and pray about what you can’t control.
Blessings on your parenting,
Tim Miesner, Principal