Are Video Games Bad for Kids? A Personal Story.

Are video games dangerous, or are the detractors nothing but fear mongering luddites? I don’t know, but I will give you some personal observations.

Last week my 4-year-old son became completely obsessed with Sypro 2: Ripto’s Revenge. Is this a good thing or bad thing?

When he obsessed about his ABCs until he knew each letter sound and could repeat them backward and forward, it didn’t frighten me.

When he pulled out the Dr. Seuss dictionary and spent 6 hours a day for 20 straight days writing every word in the dictionary on his white board repeatedly until he could spell them perfectly, I wasn’t worried. It freaked me out, but I didn’t worry.

When he spent two weeks obsessively learning every nation in Africa, every state in the United States, and every ocean on Earth, I thought it was pretty cool.

When he wanted to read “Where the Wild Things Are” twenty five times a day, it was irritating, but I never felt I was a bad parent for indulging his desire.

When he wouldn’t do anything but mazes for a month, did I worry? Nope.

When he repeatedly begged me to look at the Road Atlas and explain what every symbol in the key represented and where he could find it on the map, I was happy to oblige him.

But yesterday after the fourth straight day of constant obsession about Spyro the Dragon, I pulled the plug on the PS1. Now I am wondering whether I’ve done the right thing. I’m thinking of giving the game back tonight, because I’m afraid I acted on some unconscious fear that seeped into my mind from media fear mongers. What’s worse is that I told myself I would always let my boys finish what they start, even if it is a video game. But yesterday it seemed to go too far and I felt I had to end it.

This led me to ask some serious questions about why I yanked the game console:

Did I do it because I was afraid? Afraid that allowing him to obsess about a video game meant I was bad father.
Why is it okay for him to obsess about numbers, letters, reading, books, music, sports, but not video games?

Am I afraid he’ll become obese? When I was young, most kids I knew watched 4-5 hours of TV everyday, few were in school activities, and nobody was obese. Studies have proven video game playing burns more calories than passively watching TV. I know why kids are obese – they eat too much sh!tty food and drink too much pop.

Is this some old puritan pleasure/punishment syndrome surfacing from deep in my subconscious? We should only obsess about things that are painful but never things that are fun and pleasurable. Why pleasurable obsessions could lead to a boy becoming a fat, lazy, sex crazed, chronic self-pleaser, and I don’t want that, he could become so blind he wouldn’t notice the hair growing on his palms. 🙂

This last question bothers me the most…

Is there a part of me that is afraid he is having too much fun, and I should end the fun, because the boy needs to understand that life isn’t just fun and games? But what else does a 4-year-old have to do? I mean, how difficult should his life be?

It also seems that the game is quite educational – at least for a 4-year-old. He needs 10,000 gems to get through a certain door. He has 8,765 gems so he asks me how many he needs to get 10,000 and this led to an understanding of multi-digit subtraction.

My boss – Jim Fischer – our Senior Vice President of Information Services, said that his father believes the reason Jim is so successful in IT is due to his obsession with coin-op video games like Asteroids back in the 70s and 80s. He used to ride his banana seat Schwinn Sting-Ray eight miles to the mall and play Asteroids for hours. It doesn’t appear Jim’s video game obsession led to his ruin. But Jim does believe – that if he had the games kids have today – he may not have graduated from college.

I’ve told myself that I haven’t bought into the media hysteria about video games. I read It’s not the Media and I agree with the author’s thesis. But I believe I still overreacted to my son’s obsession with Spyro the Dragon. Why? What fear created my overreaction?

Some obsessions are culturally acceptable and some are not… why? Where do these rules originate?

The MyBlogLog Community Building Challenge Ends in a Draw

That’s right…We tied. At 10 PM last night both Wendy and I had 90 community members.

So here is the deal.

I will donate $25.00 to kiva.org + $5.00 for each blogger that asked their readers to join Wendy’s community. So that is $45.00.

Kammie at Passion Meets Purpose won the choice of either a $25.00 Amazon gift certificate or a $25.00 donation to kiva.org on her behalf.

I want to thank all of you that participated.

A special thanks to the following blogs:
Finding Your Marbles
The Politically Incorrect Entrepreneur
The Closet Entrepreneur
Techzi
Blogging Expertise
Essential Keystrokes
CJCM and IT
The Make it Great Guy
Carol’s Place for Peace

Why I Blog

  1. To create a valuable and entertaining resource for you
    I know that you value your time and I want you to know that I value your time too. The only way I can prove that, is by providing original content that you find valuable and entertaining. Without you, this blog is nothing. You mean everything to this blog, and I will try to show respect for you in everything I write.
  2. To provoke thought
    I try to write pieces that provoke you to think. I believe your mind is the most powerful thing in the universe. When you use thought to create positive changes in your life, you will also create positive changes in everyone you touch, and if you touch enough people and they touch enough people, you will change the world.
  3. To promote freedom
    Your freedom to think, feel, and act are the foundation of all growth. So to promote freedom is to promote growth. When you are free, I am free.
  4. To meet interesting people and share opportunities
    I love people, but I get bored meeting only people similar to myself – white, middle-class, middle-aged, suburban, mid-west American, corporate, etc. Blogging helps me expand my understanding of people. Blogging has helped me connect with people from over 100 countries. Blogging has allowed me to connect with you and share our opportunities for growth.
  5. To create a platform for launching other creative ventures
    I want to tell you more stories. I have a story inside me that I have yet to tell – and eventually will – this blog is only the starting point.
  6. To improve my writing skills
    I decided about 18 months ago that I wanted to write some stories from my life, so I hunkered down in my office and wrote. After writing 50,000 words, I realized I had no idea if anyone would want to read anything I had written. I needed an audience that wasn’t my wife or my mom. So in September 2006 I started this blog. I knew that a blog would force me to write more, and regular writing is critical to improvement. I appreciate feedback and criticism – it helps me improve – so I encourage you to share.

Nneka and Brian, thanks for asking why I blog.

How to Become a Better Athlete – A Geek’s Story

I suck at sports. I want to be good at them, but I don’t have any talent, so I’ve avoided sports most of my life. It wasn’t until I was over thirty that I learned a technique I could use to improve my athletic performance.

This poor performance led to a lack of interest in athletics, which made the problem worse because I didn’t practice. While practice is important, I failed to realize a far more important component of improvement. Continue reading How to Become a Better Athlete – A Geek’s Story

The Best Stuff of the Week 2-18-07

What a Buddhist Monk Taught Me About Blogging – Darren, I like how you helped a blogger under attack.

Test Your Buyer’s IQ: Quit Wasting Money On Costly Crap – Nice post Curly – but I waste most of my money on inexpensive crap. 🙂

What Should you Trust? – Nice picture, Ben

How Suburbia is Dangerous for Kids – I know this is right on. It doesn’t mean I’m leaving the suburbs. Having money, a big house, and an above average school system, doesn’t necessarily give your kids a better life. Hard to believe? It’s true. They don’t need stuff… They don’t even need great schools… They need time with you.

The Importance of Talking with Your Kids – And for God sake… Remember to listen to them.

Kids Thrive When They are Free From Over-Anxious Adults – I discovered this site this week and I love it. Not because I agree with it all, but because the writers say things many people think but are afraid to say.

A Wonderful Valentines Post – Excellent Story Liz

5 Simple Ways to Make the Most of Your Intelligence – John hit the jackpot with this gem this week. Congrats John! Read his follow up 5 More Ways to Make the Most of Your Intelligence too.

5 Reasons Why Relationships Should be Your Top Priority – Donald gives us some great information about relationships.

Did your RSS Subscribers Double Over the Weekend? – John Chow explains why.

Top Commenter Plugin – Allen’s post strikes irony with me, because if it wasn’t for John Chow’s top commenter bar. I wouldn’t have found Allen’s blog.

Do you know the Philosophy of Human Freedom?

Do you know the Philosophy of Human Freedom? Watch this.

When I started this blog I promised myself I wouldn’t write about politics. I changed my mind and I need to tell you why.

American political discourse is negative because American political discourse is about personalities not ideas. The easiest way to crush an idea is to trash the messenger. Debunking the idea is much harder because it requires people to pay attention. Most political blogs attack opponents and try to destroy people and I can’t stand the thought of using my blog to destroy other people. I want this blog to serve other people. So I decided before I started blogging that this blog wouldn’t be political.

I changed my mind because we ask political leaders to solve most of our big problems. As I consciously examined these problems, I discovered that our political leaders will never solve these problems because we can only solve these problems by changing the way we think. So how do we change the way we think?

Some people believe the best way to change the way people think is at the point of a gun. Continue reading Do you know the Philosophy of Human Freedom?

Influenza

I want to let you know that multiple cold viruses and influenza hit me and my family over the past several days, so I haven’t been making substantive posts. Time and energy are scarce right now. But I promise you I will be back with a passion this weekend.

So instead of rambling on about cold medicines and fever dreams, I’ll send you to a mental awareness test I found awakening.

Can you trust your mind? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this test.

Olson Raises the Stakes – Get a Link by Helping Kiva.org

I hate losing… And right now Wendy only has 49 community members and I have 58 community members. So I need you to join Wendy’s community now!

That’s right, I win if Wendy has more community members than me. (I made a small screw up about this yesterday, sorry!)

Raising the stakes:

I will post a link to any blog post that asks it’s readers to join Wendy’s MyBlogLog community and pledges $5.00 (or more) to kiva.org.

If 10 or more bloggers ask their readers to join Wendy’s community and the blogger pledges $5.00 (or more) to kiva.org, I will add an additional $100.00 to the pool for a Kiva.org entrepreneur. So ‘cmon and step up, your small pledge could mean hundreds of dollars to a struggling entrepreneur in the developing world… and you get a link to your blog.

If you decide to participate…
Send me the link to your post.

Update:

I was getting worried…
Bit I had two takers today…

Scott Davis – Who is Shamelessly Sucking Up – and runs a great blog
Hugh Hollowell – Who’s Political Incorrectness is the best – because he loves Kipling

Don’t worry guys… I’m going to add more links when we win.

The MyBlogLog Community Building Challenge

I need your help! Please join Wendy Piersall’s MyBlogLog Community!

Wendy Piersall from emomsathome.com made a friendly challenge that between now and 10 PM Saturday February 24th she could add more community members to my MyBlogLog Community than I can add to hers.

Here’s how it works:

  • The loser gives bragging rights to the winner by posting a month long banner ad above the fold.
  • The loser will donate $25.00 cash to the entrepreneur of their choice at Kiva.org.
  • Wendy and I will each give a random referrer the choice of receiving a $25.00 dollar Amazon Gift Certificate or having a $25.00 donation made on their behalf to a Kiva.org entrepreneur.
  • This means that an entrepreneur on Kiva could receive $75.00.

Wendy told me yesterday that she was scheming and planning, so I don’t know what underhanded treachery Wendy has afoot, but if she wins, you all are going to have to look at her banner on this site for the next month. Please don’t let that happen! Only you can prevent this tragedy from falling upon Steve-Olson.com. Help me win by joining Wendy’s MyBlogLog Community now. 🙂

Update:
For every blogger that helps to spread the word and gets people to sign up for Wendy’s MyBlogLog Community, I’ll give Kiva.org an extra $1.00. Either link to this post, or directly to Wendy’s MyBlogLog Community and let me know about it.

How You Can Help Those That Suffer

As a member of the Positive Blog Network I try to keep my posts positive. Even my post about leaving the Republican Party had a positive ending – my nephew escaped destruction.

But not all stories have a happy ending. Some stories end in tragedy. Other stories are still being written, and that’s where you can create a better ending. I believe you and I will create a better tomorrow.

When I think about the suffering in the world, I get emotionally overwhelmed (sometimes depressed) and I want to turn my thoughts to something positive. But It’s too easy to deny the suffering and human rights violations occurring right in our local communities. Sometimes you have to face the fact that things aren’t they way they should be and only you can make a difference.

When you read about worldwide suffering, the scale of the problem can paralyze you, because you don’t know where to begin. While you can’t do everything, it’s important to do something, so pick something and give what you can. Continue reading How You Can Help Those That Suffer