Restricting Video Games – Yes or No?

There’s been a lot of buzz about video games lately.  Are they good for kids or bad? Much information can be found online regarding the hazards of gaming (for example: increased rates of obesity, musculoskeletal issues, vision impairment, etc.) and just as much data touting the benefits (see relaxation, enhanced problem-solving skills and improved vision, etc.). It seems here there is huge gray area.

At home I have come to restrict video games pretty tightly.  Unschoolers may tell me that I am not respecting and trusting my child to regulate their own video games usage.  I understand that the more respect and trust the better.  But I am simply not able and/or willing to make the leap of faith to offer anytime video games to my kids.

My feeling about video gaming and children is this: The more time spent staring in to a screen, the less time my kids are interacting with every other environment other than that screen. Some may argue that video games are interactive, that they can be played with friends (or strangers for that matter) so that they have learning and social value. I feel that learning, coupled with movement and strengthening real life social bonds, is more important and beneficial.

My kids play video games twice per week, about 2 1/2 hours each in total and they always play together. Currently they play the Lego Chima game on a pc. We don’t have any other gaming devices. Each time after they are done I notice a change in their behavior. And you know what? They notice it, too. Here’s some of their comments when asked what it’s like directly after gaming:

“My brother is very hyper.”

“We don’t get along together as well and also my sister seems cranky.”

“It is hard to stop mostly because we’re in the middle of it. And there’s no time that you could stop, it’s endless.”

“There’s more teasing directly afterward.”

“I think they’re so addicting that after you play them we nag and nag our Mom for more video game time.”

“I usually watch my brothers start a cushion fight, or something like that.”

“Once we’re at the top level, I’m going to take a break from playing them and just build them instead.”

So I try my best to trust and value my kids’ opinions and we all agree that helping them restrict video games is important.  Except when my daughter says, “I think we should get more video game time whenever we want, especially me”!


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