When my son Z was four we were given a Wii. It was a hand-me-down. No exchange of money was involved. The consoles have since been discontinued anyway, so it really shouldn’t be too big of a deal.
It was a very thoughtful gift and we still enjoy using it so I don’t want to come across as ungrateful in anyway. I just want to share my story for any moms on the fence about when and if they should introduce video games into their children’s lives. It seems like there is a big divide between the electronic game lovers and haters. I have met parents (and read many reports online) that exhibit both extremes.
I personally have never had reason to be anti video games. We got a Nintendo when I was 5 years old. I played it, but I certainly never had any addiction issues or negative impact so that was probably what has shaped my opinion. However, Z loved the Wii on a level beyond my expectations! He also loved games on the phone or the computer. From ages 4 to 6 I would say he was obsessed with Mario and Sonic.
He is a smart kid, which I honestly think contributed to his obsession. He would eventually conquer the games he played. Although it wasn’t without cost. There were many times he lashed out in anger when he lost. He would be grounded for treating family members aggressively while playing. He would have break downs and cry huge tears over games. It was painful for me to watch. He had a video game addiction and it was scary.
One day I asked a mom friend who has kids several years ahead of mine how she handles it. I knew she would be knowledgable because not only is she a homeschooling mother of 4 boys, but even her husband who is a successful business man has nights dedicated to playing video games with his friends (I know this because sometimes my husband joined in). My question to this wise woman is how she balances the gaming. I expressed my concern and explained that I didn’t want to pull the plug completely, but I didn’t know what else to do. She paused and thought out loud saying that I could consider setting some strict boundaries and rules with a timer and then she said something that kind of made me mad. She said
I don’t know. I can’t really give you advice because we don’t deal with that. The boys are so busy with school work, swim team, and church. They are outside a lot and yeah they play video games, but we just don’t have much time for it. We have a lot going on.
Ohhhhhh, well. Us too I thought sarcastically. Except I was really burnt up by her non-answer answer. I guess if my family were just as studious, athletic and dedicated to more important things then I wouldn’t be having this problem.
I can see why 4 years ago I would feel that way, but now I get it. I mean I really get it. Z is in school all day. We get an hour of screen time a day, if that. He has a lot of other commitments and things that he puts his energy into. So even though Minecraft and all that is fun, it’s not the obsession that it was. He’s matured more emotionally since then too. Don’t get me wrong, he still gets overly competitive in his gaming at times and I’ve caught him being rude and ignoring people while playing, which of course is unacceptable. Also, I have had to be really careful of any games online because I have learned that some of them include interacting with other players and I am completely 100% against that! He knows he is NOT allowed to communicate online under any circumstances whatsoever and I keep a close eye on it, but that’s another topic.
I have seen how there are good things that can come from video games. Z and his dad have really bonded over electronics.
He has learned a lot of problem solving skills. He’s pretty much already a techie mastermind in my opinion. I wouldn’t be the surprised at all if programing or computer engineering is in his future (like his dad).
So I am still not anti-video games. However, as I look back I can see how maybe we would have been better off waiting until last year when he was 7 to introduce gaming.
Keep in mind this just a personal testimony, all children are different. It’s not like I am one of those parenting experts or something.
Next up I have to worry about when he is going to care about having the latest and greatest (i.e. super expensive) game device. Or when the violent games become an issue. Yikes.
Sometimes I feel like I am in my own live action parenting video game having to get through unforeseen obstacles. I guess I’ll worry about conquering the next level when I get to it.
This is such a fitting post for me. I went round to see my little cousin at the weekend and he was so anti-social because he wouldn’t come down from his bedroom as he wanted to play his video game. I think it’s really sad because apparently all summer he was on his video games rather then running around and playing with other kids.
I am so glad my kids are adults. (I’m no help, am I???) xoxo
I guess whether we’re parents or not, there are always things we’d do differently with hindsight, but it sounds to me like you’re doing great. You’re doing your best and that’s all anyone can do.
I enjoyed your post because I can relate to it on a lot of levels. My son is now 24 but when he was around 8 he got a Nintendo game system. He was good at it and we all entered into playing the games with him, which was a lot of fun. He never let it take over his life – until he got into his older teens and got an X-Box (which I was very much against, but my husband bought it for him). That was where we began to see a turn in the monopolizing of his time, because he could play with his friends and cousins without even leaving his room. He’s a homebody anyway so we had to set strict rules and eventually take it for a while. Now he’s out on his own and has matured a lot, but I’m still not an advocate of the X-box!! And my little grandson is only 2 and already showing signs of loving phone games – ACK!! Lord, give us wisdom!
Thanks for sharing your honesty and your struggles. Keep bringing your needs to the Lord and asking Him for wisdom as Z grows!
Thank you for sharing your experience. That really does mean a lot and I will definitely keep asking the Lord for wisdom. Goodness, where would I be without his guidance!
I’m so glad your blog showed up on the Blog Love Project feed because I am SO dealing with this right now. I too am a homeschooling mom of 3 kiddos so the computer and games show up in our lives a lot (in different forms) and ive struggled with this. I think we all do the best we can with what we have. Thank you SO much for your insight. I think it was an answer to prayers. 🙂
Oh, I am so glad to hear this. I was sure that I couldn’t be the only one dealing with this issue. Even though it’s only one example and I certainly don’t feel like we ruined him, I was hoping that someone could learn from what I feel was an avoidable and could have been handled better.
Natalie, I can tell that you are an awesome mom! At least you care about how your child is actually handling the responsibility of video games and not just turning your head and using it as an electronic babysitter. Kids are funny. Into one thing one minute and another the next. My daughter was very much into crossbows and now she has an air soft pistol. Go figure….we live in the country with hicks so it sort of goes with the territory. My point is, kids change and your son has a very bright and creative future ahead of him I can tell.
Thanks and your daughter sounds pretty amazing too. I think I want to hang out with you guys out in the country! Cross bows and pistols? Fun times!
My son is still really young so we’re not here yet, but I think about him having a problem with watching TV because I am such a TV junkie also. But I believe there should be a balance between everything and you have to be the best mom you can be! And it sounds like you have some good boundaries set up for your son while he’s gaming ?
Oh my goodness Natalie, I feel like I could have written a post very much like this. My son loves video games, and for a kid that can’t read yet, is very good at them. But we started having some major issues and had to cut WAY back. his problem was not with winning vs. losing though, it was when it would be time to turn it off. Full blown tantrums would ensue. There is definitely lots of good that comes with technology and starting kids young, but I do think you need to be careful with how young, how much, and what screen time they’re getting. thanks for your thoughtful post!
I’m very cautious about gaming. We don’t have any game consoles and they do play at their friends but I really haven’t introduced many electronics here. It’s just not something mine have been exposed to. Still, I can see why they do have benefits and disadvantages. If it’s not one thing, it’s another! I think that you aware of the video game love and that will only help him keep it in check!!!
I can also see how it would be a good idea to just hold off on the video games a little longer, introduce them a little later. There’s always time for video games in the future!
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