I’ve been in a few group conversations where moms sheepishly, almost shamefully admitted to it.
“Well, yes. Sometimes I let my kids play video games.”
As if they had handed their 6 year old a running circular saw or a sippy cup filled with antifreeze.
Please. It’s a video game, not a loaded pistol.
But that’s the kind of guilt being piled on parents today. As if they don’t have enough to worry about protecting their children from the onslaught of ideologies that run contrary to every value and principle they hold dear, now they’re also warned regularly that every amazing technology available today is awful for their children and destined to destroy their little minds and hearts and imaginations.
Sorry. I’m just not buying it.
Should parents be discerning in the video games they allow their children to play? Absolutely. Should they limit the time their kids spend playing them? No question.
But I’m not ashamed of the fact my kids play video games. Here are four reasons why:
Video games give my kids another indoor activity option
Yes, I want my children to read. Yes, I want them to play pretend and create with Legos and build forts and do art projects. In fact, they do all of those things a lot.
But I’m happy for the fact there is another indoor activity the kids can take advantage of on bad weather days when outside play isn’t an option.
Video games encourage creativity and imagination
Now I realize not all video games do this, but there is no question some do. I am amazed at the things my children build on Minecraft — beautiful, detailed creations that require a great deal of thought, planning, and problem-solving. This is not a mindless video game where kids check in and their brains check out while they play. In fact, the exact opposite is true!
But even in other games that aren’t necessarily designed to be educational, I’m always amused at the way my children play with the characters like they are virtual action figures. They aren’t merely trying to beat the game — they’re playing pretend with the characters on screen, making up their own stories and creating fun with their virtual “toys”.
Video games introduce them to digital devices
Just because I grew up not needing to know how to operate a digital device doesn’t mean my kids don’t need to know how to do it. They will be exposed to similar technologies and will be expected to know how to use them.
Now there’s no question they can develop the knowledge later in their lives, but it will definitely be a slower, more fumbling process, as just about anyone from the older generation will tell you. Kids exposed to these technologies can pick up on them at amazing speed and even transfer their knowledge between devices very easily and almost instinctively.
It does matter that they know how to do this stuff, and I’m glad they can learn it in a fun way.
Video games are a great family activity
Honestly, this is probably the thing I love most about video games. My kids love playing video games together and I love it when I hear them laughing hilariously and enjoying their time together. They love to race one another and have building competitions between them, and they love creating stories. And they especially love it when they can get Mom and Dad involved!
Listen, I’m all for caution: I encourage parents to be discerning in the games they choose for their children and the restrictions they place upon time spent gaming. Moms and dads should also be ready to turn those games OFF and implement even stronger restrictions if a child breaks rules or seems especially obsessed with any video game.
But I don’t think parents should live in guilt because they let their children play video games. Anything can be done in excess. The important thing is not allowing the excess to happen, and to enjoy the wonders of video gaming in a safe, reasonable, family-friendly way.
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