Architects of a New Dawn

We’d like to show the side of the world you don’t normally see on television.

My kid will be 6 soon and is already starting with the Nintendo DS obession crap (I'm obviously not 100% against, but have reservations). We do get outdoors often. I'm sorry, but I did not dig up any research articles on this. What is everyone's experiences and feelings on the young, and teenagers with these things? This can include hand held devices, or XBox, Playstations, etc. Do you think it has affected your kids concentration, language development, literacy, or social skills.

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I commented on that subject at this thread... so this is a re-run.

I didn't purchase any video games for my son... so he only played v-games at an arcade or at friends house... he was much too busy with gymnastics, karate, skiing and music lessons. By the time he was a teenager he was in bands and never lacked for creative things to do.
But my grandson's generation is much more entrenched... and I have become much more concerned. However, as a social worker, I look at both sides of the coin. If they weren't playing video games, what would they be doing instead? That question leads to an even bigger issue... what alternatives are accessible to them? Urban/suburban kids live with many constraints. To name a few... cities have car centered designs... not human centered. Neighbors are strangers, and parental energies are stretched thin after jobs, inhuman traffic congestion and an increasingly stressful socioeconomic climate.

"...these children are more hyper active, less able to control themselves and easily dissatisfied."
Again... what would these children be doing if they didn't have v-games? Would their parents be spending more quality time with them? Would they be eating a better diet? I see the game fear as more of a symptom than the heart of the problem. I see games as a positive step above TV watching... especially Wii and Guitar Hero.

Have you ever witnessed someone in a traffic jam get angry at the person in the car in front of them. That person is also stuck in traffic... Similarly, I think its easy to see the immediate symptom of a larger problem... without seeing the larger picture. It is impossible to point at excess game activity without pointing at parents and its impossible to point at parents without pointing at community and its impossible to point at community without pointing at policy. And woven throughout this enmeshed circumstance, the missing link is the human factor.

In defense of games... I have witnessed kids reach amazing conclusions. One day after playing Black & White, my then 10yo grandson announced that communities thrive and prosper more when they help each other, than when they compete and war with one another. I'll admit... when I was skipping rope and playing jacks... I never reached that sort of conclusion.
Wii has been a boon for retired folks. For example, Wii bowling activates them without the strain of lifting a heavy ball. Its a fun and interactive indoor activity... and they can do it with their grandkids in the safety of their home.

Anything in excess is unbalanced and leads to further imbalance. But there are far worse things that kids have done and do than play v-games. I would prefer that parents spend evenings teaching their kids to cook healthy foods - rather than throwing some ramen in a pan or going to Mickey D's. I would prefer that children never go home to the threat of an alcoholic parent that requires the children to walk on eggshells or hide behind a v-game. I would prefer that parents never be so medicated that they aren't aware of where or what their children are doing... etc.

I empathize with your concern. Metta, Jeanne
Hey Mike,
Great discussion topic with, I'm sure, many opinions. :o). In our 15 years of raising kids, we never bought a television game system. It wasn't necessarily a conscious decision, we just really never got around to it and/or wanted to spend the money on it. I did see many of our friends and other family members, however, who had their kids in front of their video games almost obsessively. It's easy for that or any other entertainment media to become a "passive babysitter" starting at a very young age... and very tempting, I might add, to plop your kid down in front of the tv or video for 2 hours so you can get something else done. In my opinion, videos or gaming, just like any other forms of entertainment isn't damaging in and of itself -- but the lifestyle and circumstances that surround it can be. It's all about moderation and balance. We have some good friends who limit their kids' "screen-time" each day. This includes time watching television, videos/movies, computer time and playing video games. The kids know their limits and they are great with it. They appreciate their time and priveledge of having the games and computer access, etc., but they balance their day with other activities.

I also think some kids (and adults for that matter) use gaming as a form of "escape" -- and this is where problems can come in. I did read a good book called Transforming the Difficult Child - The Nutured Heart by Howard Glasser awhile ago. It spoke of the sense of security that children find in video games because of the predictability of action/consequences of the games' patterns. I think this security is what kids actually get addicted to. I don't have any research stats to back this up, but I think that when children start learning this predictability at such a young, young age, their brains actually become programmed to expect this type of strict action/consequences -- or predictable patterns as a part of their reality. Then, when real life circumstances kick in (for example while playing on the playground with other children), and something unpredicable or random occurs (the other kid knocks down a sandcastle that took 20 minutes to build) their brains have not properly developed the mechanism or coping skills to deal with the overwhelming and unexpected sense of disappointment. Whereas if they had spent more time in "natural" social situations, rather than within the confines of a video game, their brains would have developed to better cope with unexpected events. Again -- that's just a personal theory... not based on any research other than observation of kids handling disappointment.

Video games are great fun and really teach a lot -- but they, like anything, are best when it's used as a way to do things together! ~Leah



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