Recently, I wrote about my son’s video gaming addiction/obsession/passion. This has been one of my most popular posts. 969 FB users engaged in this post – posting, liking, sharing, and commenting. In fact, I couldn’t participate in most of those discussion on their FB pages because I was not their friend and was not allowed to participate.
And kriscoop very kindly left this comment on my page. This post is a response to her.
“Your son sounds like he does super things with Minecraft and Zelda etc. If all kids took gaming to the level your son does, I think it would be great! Unfortunately, many kids (including my own son) don’t go beyond the basics for video games, so I don’t really feel they are using their creativity to the fullest. And you don’t mention the console games such as WiiU, Xbox etc, where I don’t think the kids have as much access to being creative like Minecraft offers.
I do limit the gaming to encourage my son to be outside playing, particularly during the warmer months. Again, your kid sounds amazing 🙂 but I don’t think most kids do such wonderful things with the games as he does…”
But my son is not alone in doing super things with the games. Most of his friends are just like him. One of his friends spent a lot of time and money building a gaming computer. Another friend shared an adventure story that she wrote featuring all her/their gaming friends as primary characters. My son is amazing, no doubt. Not because he manages to do the super duper things but because he has the passion and needs no permission to follow his passion. He has no limits on screen time but has plenty of alternatives to pursue if he wishes to get off screen.
Here is a challenge to kriscoop. Let your child do what he or she wants to. Really, how many twelve year olds desperately want to learn neurobiology? Be engaged and offer support, encouragement, resources (and food) and an occasional challenge. Put away your judgments about one medium of entertainment/education versus another. I know it is very, very difficult to say that video games are as good and useful as books or playing outside. For example, my deeply held belief is that physical activity is an antidote to all ails. Research on endorphins support my claim. You can understand that is equally hard for me to let that belief go. Even given that I find books more comforting than a run or yoga practice. Do you want your kid to play outside? Play with him. Go on hikes. Bike with him. Run with him. Get your dogs to run with him. Swim with him. Take him surfing. Ski or snowshoe in the winter. Round up some friends if you are not a self starter. Don’t send him out because you think it is good for him and stay inside reading by the fireplace, all cuddly and warm. Which I love, by the way!
Life is about learning. Every activity holds possibility to learn new things. Or reinforce what we learned before. My son’s video gaming achievements came not because he is special but because he has the time to pursue, explore, and stretch the boundaries of boredom. Try it, I dare you! Your kid too will do magical things. Who knows? Maybe they will be invited to go to the Hogwarts!