Last week I was extolling the virtues of kids playing video games, explaining how gaming can teach our kids so much and even, eventually, how to save the world. My plan initially was to make this second blog a counter-argument by pointing out the negative consequences of spending too much time on video games.
I was going to point out that too much time spent sitting in front of a screen can lead to headaches, grumpiness and, in extreme cases, deep vein thrombosis and death. I was going to mention the bootcamps that have been set up in China because so many of their young people seem to have become addicted to gaming. Oh, and the thousands of specialised counsellors in South Korea who’ve been trained to deal with the problem. (If you want to read about that in more detail I’ve written a whole section on it in my book ‘Unlock the Cage: Empowering parents to step out of fear into freedom’.)
All of this is still true and relevant, but in thinking this whole issue through a little more over the past couple of weeks, I’ve come to stand in a different place. I’ll call it considered acceptance. You see, on the one hand we have the fears of over-indulgence with its associated health risks, and on the other we have our burgeoning digital natives who, I reckon, will put all their newfound knowledge and skills firmly into a wholesome human context. They will become more digitally literate than we will ever be, and they’ll do OK. The centre point of this fulcrum, the pivot around which this tug-of-war between ‘gaming’ or ‘not gaming’ revolves is love. Confident love.
What do I mean? Well, the people doing the gaming are children. They just follow their passions wherever that takes them, and for however long we allow. Like everything else in the parenting department, we have to be the ones who call time, who set the boundaries, who say enough is enough. And, as with most things, moderation is the key.
Are we confident enough to take our position and hold it?Are we confident enough to move the goalposts and boundaries as our appreciation of our child’s skills and development changes?What is appropriate time on a computer for a six year old is not the same for a teenager, but that amount of time doesn’t leap from a) to b) overnight. There is a gradual and subtle maturing of our child which means we have to face a constantly changing set of boundaries. Oh how I wish at times that once I’d made a decision I would never have to re-visit it, tweak it, change it or completely turn it upside down. I wish my children would stay in one place long enough for the effort of decision-making always to seem worthwhile. But they don’t. And never will. So I have to do my best to get used to the sliding scale of limits and boundaries. And so will they.
Confident love is the goal of all parents really. That ability to believe in ourselves and our own judgement enough; that knowledge that we are the experts on our own children, and we know what they need in order to blossom. I had the wonderful opportunity to spend time exploring this idea in a recent radio interview I did with Family Matters Radio. If you’d like to know more about what this could look like for you please have a listen. It’s pretty in-depth, and if you’d like a transcript let me know. It might take a while for me to do it because you can pack a lot into an hour-long interview, but I’ll do it if you like. Let me know in the comments box.
Anyway, what do you think about it all? Gaming, not gaming… And how much time do you think is appropriate? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
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