When to Introduce Video Games

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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.

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Z got to join a programing course for his birthday this year and this was his showcase.

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).

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The day Z got to get out of school to go see the robot his dad programed.

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.

By | October 23rd, 2015|Family, Parenting Tips|13 Comments

FaceBook to the Rescue

My whole world turned upside down when we decided to sell our house and leave the place we’ve called home for the first 11 years of our marriage. Then my computer turned upside down when it fell off the bed! The good news is it was under warranty, the bad news is I lost my entire hard drive. I have come a long way when it comes to making back ups, so all of my work related data and personal files were covered except for November and December because I slacked off in the middle of getting ready to move.

As I was getting ready for SJ’s 2nd birthday I wanted to catch up on our family albums and her baby book, but I have no evidence of any family pictures that were downloaded November or December of 2012! That means I lost pictures of my sons graduation from the church nursery,
my kids in their adorable halloween costumes,
and our last Christmas before we left Texas.
That’s when I went to Facebook. I knew I had uploaded all of these events to share with friends and family, but would they be printable?
What a lot of people don’t realize is that web resolution and print resolution are two totally different things. When I worked for Now Magazine I would ALWAYS have people tell me we have lots of pictures on our web site, just pull them off there. And most of the time they were TOO small. Things can look great on the online at 72 dpi, but to look good in print they need to be around 300 dpi. I know it’s confusing, but just because it looks good online does not mean you can print it.
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However, Facebook has an option when you upload photos to post them at high quality and I strongly recommended checking that box, because thanks to the photos I posted on Facebook I have been able to print out all the special memories that would have been lost otherwise.
Here’s how to upload your photos.
1. Go to your photo albums and click the button that says add photos.
2. In the bottom left corner there is a box that says “high quality”. Check that.
3.On the right there is a drop down menu that says “public” and when you click on it you can customize who you want to be able to see the photos. If you don’t necessarily won’t to post the photos to your home page then you can select “Only me” and no one else will be able to view your photos, but they are there if you ever had a computer crash like mine did.
After that you just select the photos you want to upload and publish your album.
I am not suggesting that you use Facebook as your primary storage device. First of all I can’t guarantee they won’t delete your whole account tomorrow, and I am not even sure what the maximum number of uploads is. You should always back up your images through discs or time machine, external hard drives, carbonate, etc., but it’s nice to have multiple locations for your most treasured moments and in my case Facebook really saved the day.
Thank you social networking!
By | March 8th, 2012|My Life, Uncategorized|2 Comments