30 Bananas a Day!

In our circles, I am the last hold-out for not allowing video games.  My kids have done a few here and there with friends by my 10-year-old is really pushing for minecraft, all his friends have it and wi's and ipods.  We don't have TV but they netflix/stream stuff a few times a week and he does robotics and bridge building and stuff like that on the computer.  He recently got an mp3 so he can have his music.  While downloading songs some porn images came up.  That was a discussion I wish I never had to have but I'm glad we were together.  They've also done some learning games that all seem to eventually turn into the same mindlessness.  His brother and sister who just turned 8 want to follow in his footsteps in whatever the older does.  

I worry about too much screen time and the way it affects my kids after (they get edgy and whacky after just watching a tv program) because they are not used to a lot of screen time.  I feel like as soon as I open the can of worms of video games there will be no turning back.  Everywhere we go (like gymnastics, hockey, library, the grocery store) kids are being supervised by electronic devices.  I worry about that.  I really worry about unlimited access to the internet.  And it's just plain hard being the meanest Mom when it comes to video games.  Parenting is hard (and unschooling is hard) and sometimes I wonder, what would it be like to have all three kids happily on their own ipods?  Peace?

Anyone else share these concerns?

Think I'm being too strict?  

What's your family policy?

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I think there's a delicate balance between exposing your kids to technology where if they are not exposed they'll have a severe disadvantage in what is becoming the modern workplace. There are a lot of games that build upon a strategy, and while not exactly Chess, require a lot of thought and strategy in order to succeed. Games like simcity, civilization and other real time strategy games are like that and some of the RTS games even teach a bit about history (there are roman, world war, japanese themed RTS games). Other types of titles that require thinking, reading and keen strategy are RPG games where the focus is less on fast paced movement and more on strategy and making sure you have the right things and a degree of puzzle solving.

I don't want to offend with the following statement, but in order to be able to accurately assess the quality of the game as far as the learning and skill acquisition potential go, you need to be able to accurately assess the quality of the game (I know it sounds redundant). Judging from the way you described the technology (and the accidental porn) your son has, it looks like you aren't very familiar with technology either (your son doesn't have an "mp3", he has an "mp3 player", an MP3 is the equivalent of a CD) and as such you might want to have a discussion with someone who does.

We just recently started allowing my son to play video games besides simple matching and number games. We started with the wii and let him play wii fit and wii sports because both require a good deal of physical activity and an even great deal of coordination to do well at. I've also started letting him play a game called "Dungeon Defenders" that is far from meeting the bar I described above, but still requires strategy in order to do well (Its a tower defense genre game - if your towers aren't placed in the right spots you'll lose).

Yes I agree I am out of the loop, by choice.  10 years ago my job was at a computer 8 hours a day, but since then I have avoided it.  And in 10 years a lot has changed.  I am going to have to be more informed going forward.  I need a technology nanny, because frankly I'd rather be outside or exercising or playing piano than having my eyes glued to a screen.  

I read this book last night "Talking Back to Facebook - The Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age" by James P. Steyer.  They agree with you about me being more involved and informed.  But I keep coming back to my strong feeling that sitting down playing video games (unless is wii fit or something similar) is still unhealthy for the body/mind and addicting.  

Do you restrict the time limits for your son to play dungeon defenders or the like?

And please, what does RPG stand for?  Thanks.

RTS = real time strategy. These

So here's an example of what comes up in our internet family travels:  Today my 10-year-old son is playing a song we all hear on the radio but he downloaded the explicit version on his mp3 player and the chorus includes, excuse my language, f55k that pu33y, repeatedly.  I was listening and it was a little hard to catch because it wasn't all that clear but once I heard it I was like, holy crap, my 8 year old twins are listening as well.  My son had told me that it was listed under explicit but we thought it was because the song said ass a few times.  So I asked him to remove the song and explained as scientifically as a could what that lovely phrase meant.

So here's what hard for me about not restricting technology.  You never know what you will run into sometimes or what will come up for ads or when an inappropriate image pops up.  And unless I play an entire video game, (which, am I wrong but do they ever end?) how will I know what images are there. It sure is tricky.

And there was even a talk on TED Talks about how video games can actually be good for your brain.  But so can many other things.  I think it's a waste of time, sorry if I offend.

And I also disagree about putting my kids at a disadvantage, if i can pick up robotics software on the fly at the ripe old age of 46 I have total faith in my kids picking up any new technology pronto.  Kids are quick.  

Our minds, bodies, and souls are under complete bombardment by the screens. As someone who was restricted from these devices when I was younger and then dove head first into mindless gaming for years I must say I wish I never had access to them! 

Appreciation of nature and indulgence in natural things, exercise, meditation, etc.  These are the interests I wish I would have pursued. 

Right now I am a proud father of a five year old. His mother and I agreed not to raise him eating garbage food and being plugged into the screenmatrix and ever since she left me that's exactly what she does with every moment. Lord of the Rings online while he's left to his own devices in the other room. It's so sad, these games and screens trigger something in us that's so SELFISH and non productive. I went in the house today when I dropped him back with his mom. Dirty dishes, dirty backyard, trashy plastic(toxic) toys everywhere, his shared room a complete disaster area with more of the same. Gorgeous sunny day and not a single open window in the house for fresh air.  What are mom and her other man up to.  Lord of the Rings online.  It's a sickness.

   Do what you can while you can to rationally explain to him why he doesn't need those things in his life and do your best to fill the time with constructive activities. Teach him how to meditate and appreciate the moment! Blessings!!!

Gregory, I so appreciate your thoughtful repl

I had made this long reply but something has happened to it.  It appears the computer is taking revenge on my anti-video game stance!!!

Sounds like your son is very lucky to have you as a father and role model and it must be so hard for you to see what it is like at your ex's house.    

How old were you when 'dove head first into mindless gaming' if you don't mind my asking?  And how long were you in it?

My grandparents raised me to believe that the tv was the boob tube and that it would rot my brain ;) They lived on 40 acres and gave me the land as the solution to what ailed me. Good country water, growing food, and running the hills.  I bought a nintendo 64 around the age of 14 and would spend hours and hours just playing the same games over and over again. I would get together with other friends who liked playing v. games and we would stay up all night just to beat a part, or keep shooting or racing each other.  Couple that with a toxic load of soda, pizza, and all kinds of other garbage food intake and it was like crack.  This continued on throughout highschool and I fell far from my B-ball playing track running, good grade getting, happy self and further into the stimulant chasing and self destructive mindset path. 

Sure I kept jobs and worked hard for others after school ended. I always found myself back in front of the screen. playing GTA for countless hours, acting out actions I would never take in real life.

Nowadays I have no tv. No smartphone. No handheld devices. Once in a great while I might play a skateboarding game. Like once every couple months if I'm hanging out with a friend or something.  I don't go actively craving that stimulus anymore.  I am doing just fine without the game wired to the brain.  Sadly though I'm 29 and can't get back all those years that I spent tied up in them.  I wish I could. 

Wow, I think it's unusual for someone so young to have no tv, no devices etc.  You're more of a rebel than I am!  

My Dad growing up was super strict with TV and my mother was never sitting around watching tv until later in life.  I also had plenty of outdoor space to play in and freedom as a kid.  My Dad bought us one of the first video game consoles they made back in the day, we played pac-man on it!  And tetris I think.  It bored me to tears.  I know games have gotten a lot more detailed and exciting and addicting, making it all the more hard for parents to say no.  All in all I'm glad I've been strict about it.  And I don't feel so bad about my kids being the only kids around without gaming-because they get to do a lot of stuff many kids don't, like robotics, pottery, baseball, hockey, music lessons etc.  It's not like we're taking away video games and making them have a lame life.  

I don't need any study to tell me what watching T.V. or playing video games does to my kids, it's bad news.  I try to limit them but it is as hard as it is to keep them raw vegan in a society that is set up from the top to dumb us down and make us sick.  Maybe harder. :P 

I have met unschooled kids and adults who seem like very independent thinkers and nice intelligent people who are doing great things.  But when I see my kids after TV/video game time, I know it's bad.  I loved the book 'Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television'. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_Arguments_for_the_Elimination_of_... 

I read it many years ago when my first child was 2 years old.  I'm sure this helped me see things differently.  One thing I notice is that my grandparents who had no T.V. and all the people I have met from their generation had something about them that was vastly different than my parents' generation that ran home from school every day to watch 'howdy doody time'.  I think it's the T.V. that did it.  It may be a frontal lobe problem. 

Incidentally while we are on the subject, I saw a crazy video showing a lecture in a class on how they are developing a vaccine to cripple people's frontal lobe.  So back to the TV/VG issue, if we are bypassing this frontal lobe whenever we watch T.V. or play video games then how does it ever get developed?

Thanks for piping in, it helps to hear about other parents and how they've dealt with the issue.  Sounds like a good book, my kids are always asking what I'm reading about!

And yeah it's pretty obvious the immediate effects of vg's and tv on young ones.

I don't vax but just wondering why we'd need oneto cripple the frontal lobe if TV is already doing it in the first place?

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