Kristen from Motherhood Uncensored was looking for feedback, on kids and computer/video games. This started out as a comment, but when my comment started developing into paragraphs, I thought perhaps it would be better addressed here. (nobody has ever accused me of being short winded)
First of all, she asks the question(s),”Is your tot a gamer yet? Ever? Never?” and in there is I think some of the problem. Commenters also played along and went with the same language and theory. However, “gamer” certainly draws a certain connotation to it (whether you believe that connotation is good or bad is wholly dependant on your POV) that I don’t think applies to kids. They play a game. In the case of some games like V.Smile or Leapster, they even LEARN while they are “playing” (not “gaming”).
I think the fear that every kid that knows how to use a computer is going to turn into some sort of computer zombie slayer is quite overblown. If anything, my bet would be that the exact opposite would often play out to be the truth.Â Much the same way that kids that are completely denied sugar are the ones that often hit the candy racks the hardest when they are able to do so, the kid that is denied the opportunity to use computers, whether purely for learning, or even for some amount of entertainment, would be the ones that I would be on to become gaming addicts later as they attempt to make up for lost time.Â Â Not to mention the fact that in this day and age, you are putting your child at a distinct disadvantage if you do not introduce them to technology in a society that whether you like it or not is technology driven.
Of course, like everything else, there needs to be limits.Â Limits on the amount of time spent on the computer.Â Limits to what they are allowed to play or use, and other common sense rules apply here as well as with anything else.Â The fact of the matter is, if you keep it age appropriate, at a young age, whether they realize it or not, while they are playing these games they are learning something… colors, numbers, associations… there is learning going on there, interactive, touch and work with it learning.Â Even Seasame Street can’t compete with that, let alone anything else that they might happen to watch on the “idiot box.”
Of course, TV has been outed for the most part as not necessarily the best baby sitter in the world, but most parents do employ it as least once in a while in an effort to get something done, or to find a couple of minutes to get in the shower, maybe get dinner ready without somebody hanging at your heels crying “I booooored.”Â And to be honest, again if you keep it smart, and within limits I don’t thing there is anything wrong with that.Â And “computer time” could simply be used as another way to not only teach but entertain.Â Given a choice, I would rather my daughter grab her Reader Rabbit game, or log on to Playhouse Disney and play some games that teach her something that to give in to another hour or even half hour in front of the TV.
In the second grade, this has already paid off dividends for me and LatteGirl.Â She had a science project last week (Don’t get me started on already having week long projects in the second grade), where she needed to look up different types of animals and find out facts about them.Â With no help (but WITH supervision), she logged into Encarta, pulled up facts on each animal, and even copy and pasted the URL for each animal and pasted it into notepad so she could print out her bibliography.Â I don’t know if I tasked TheWife with this project, if she could have completed the reseach any better or any faster than our seven year old.Â That is not a knock on TheWife, but it is a telling scenario of just how proficient LatteGirl has gotten at using her PC.
Sure, when we were in school, we had to walk uphill both ways in the snow, get permission from Mrs. Shushman to go and dust off a seventy pound Encycolpedia to do our research.Â But those days are gone.Â Your not protecting anybody by keeping technology out of your kids hands.Â If anything, you may be hurting them.Â If they are going to turn into a gamer (not that there is anything wrong with that), they are going to do it whether or not you let them play an interactive game when they are young.Â Our society is to technologically advanced to sit back and try and deny it is there.