Monday, February 29, 2016

Video Games

Video Games? Yes or No?

When I was a young mama and knew everything about raising kids, I was anti-video games. Because I knew everything. Video games were bad and evil. My children were going to be readers and we weren't going to complicate their lives with video games! I also didn't want them to become isolated and socially inept. PWM and I were perfect parents. And our little ones were going to be perfect little children.

Until. Until I went to a seminar on obstetrical ultrasound. I was setting up a program for me and another physician to do our own obstetrical ultrasound in our practice, so we went to several educational programs. It took a little while for me to get the hang of moving the ultrasound transducer one way while watching the image on the screen move a different way.

You know who was good at ultrasound? People who played video games. I had also read that surgeons who played video games as kids were better at laparascopic surgery. They had to look at the screen and move the instruments on the outside of the body which were moving on the inside of the body.

That was a big part of what changed my mind. The incredibly long and cold winters here in the Great White North also helped change my mind. The kids couldn't get out and run around like they could all summer. PWM likes video games and he would play some on the computer.

We decided to get a Nintendo gaming system because it was family friendly. We decided that we wouldn't do any first-person shooting games until the kids were older. One Christmas, we took the plunge and have had video games in our lives ever since.

Rosie Girl is mostly a fantasy gamer. She loves Zelda and now has a collection of ocarinas. She also enjoys the Mario games. Wild Man loves the Mario games and Zelda, but now that he's older, we've let him get into Assassin's Creed and Halo. PWM loves him some video games and now that we have an XBox One, he's playing Destiny and Battlefront.

Do I think I've ruined my kids with video games? No. Rosie Girl has used the fantasy world of her video games as a jumping off point for fan fiction, drawing, and music. If I thought video games were isolating, I was certainly wrong there. This weekend, Wild Man had four friends over whom each brought a gaming console and/or games. They played video games for the better part of 24 hours straight. There wasn't any isolation there.

I do have some caveats about video games in our family. We didn't let them have any violent games when they were young. It was only when Wild Man was 15 that we let him get Assassin's Creed, and then we made him turn off the blood and sounds. 

We've never let them have anything but their handheld gaming systems in their room. (Well, Rosie Girl had the original GameCube and TV in her room when she was here over the summer, but she was 19.) We also didn't let them do online gaming until just this year (Wild Man is 17).

And, we've always had limits on how long they could use the video games. Well, until this year. Wild Man stays busy enough that he only has time to play for a little while every day or two. Their homeschool curriculum was literature based, so they read quite a bit.

That's been our experience. I don't think video games are inherently bad, but I think each family needs to decide how and when they are going to let their kids play them. And if your 17 year old boy decides to have his friends over to play, make sure to have plenty of food and drink and space for all the gaming consoles.

What's been your experience? Thoughts?

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