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?

84 thoughts on “Are Video Games Bad for Kids? A Personal Story.”

  1. You know, moderation in just about anything is a pretty decent quality to teach to your children, too. Like you, I would be less apt to stop him from learning numbers than from playing a video game, so I think your questions are interesting and well thought out. I suppose my biggest concern would be that a) video games might not encourage him to use has imagination as much as, say, a book and b) what is the content of the video game. I would be more likely to allow him to spend time with a game that was actively encouraging him to learn to subtract multi-digit numbers if it didn’t require him to kill things.

    Yeah, I’m going to go with “moderation in all things.”

    Good, thought-provoking post!

  2. Steve – Video games are excellent learning tools for kids. Playing video games is known to release endorphins in the minds of children. If alcohol is liquid courage for adults, in my experience that endorphin rush is like liquid passion for kids. If that time is spent learning how to solve puzzles, explore ( digital ) worlds, learning ingenuity and building coordination then I say, more power to the kids!

    That said I believe that there are exceptions. My son _loves_ video games. So much so, that he’s lied and sneaked around to play them when he has been obligated to do other things…like sleep. When any obsession turns into deceit ( in my case ), thievery, violence or any kind of predatory behavior, it’s time to get some help.

    In my opinion, there is one other reason that I know of that should cause concern from a parent when letting their kids play video games. When the theme or play of the games are contrary to the values system that you’re trying to compel your kids to follow, then run away. To that end…FIND OUT SOMETHING ABOUT THE #*$&#&# GAME BEFORE YOU LET YOUR KIDS PLAY IT! NO EXCEPTIONS!!!

    I’m always surprised when a parent is shocked to find out that even though they bought the game, their daughter has been playing Boca Raton Vice 6 – The Next Tryst and it contains gore and sexually explicit images. I don’t have a problem with video games with gore in them. I’ve played my share. These days, I don’t play those kinds of games because they’re just not entertaining to me. The angle that the media is playing at is that they can shock ignorant parents into action: that action is to watch their programming. The media is not trying to expose that the games are exceptionally intense, it’s that ignorant people will watch their “expose'” about games only to find out that they gave little Johnny the equivalent of soft porn. Know thy game.

    As for me, I actually still play video games with my kids. I buy them games, they don’t have to ask for them. I play the games with them. I also feel “guilty” because I’m thirty-something and still playing video games, but then again I feel guilty for not using coasters, so don’t mind me. 🙂

  3. Hey Steve,

    Excellent though-provoking post, as always.

    Yeah, that “last question” is the scariest indeed. Like I told you a while back, I’ve spent the last few years “un-learning” some of the stuff that’s been in my head since childhood. Jennifer and I opt for critical thinking every time possible/feasible.

    Once you wake up to this idea and start paying attention, it’s downright amazing how much destructive programming we collect by the time we reach adulthood. Downright amazing.

    then on the video games there’s of course the issue of “the brain perceiving what it sees as reality whether it’s in front of you or on TV” – which would make me be pretty selective of any video games and TV, i.e. in my case that would entail no gore, etc.

    Have an awesome day!

  4. Interesting article. I remember when we used to play video games a lot and our parents wanted us to go out to play (this was 10-15 years ago).

    I am often surprised, and I agree with Chris, about how little parents seems to know about what their kids are playing (or what their kids are doing at all). It´s like they have made their mind up that games are for kids and nothing parents could, or even should to protect kids from excessive killing, be interested in.

    It seems like kids are getting unhealthier here in Sweden too (compared to 15 years ago when I was a kid) and perhaps they are playing too much videogames and too little frisbee-golf.

    I must say that the Nintendo Wii seems to be a nice solution to the play video games vs. go out and play some sport problem. From what I hear you get a pretty good workout playing Wii. =)

  5. I have a similar issue with what sounds like a similar child right now.

    There are activities that could be considered investments, i.e. learning to spell, learning geography, learning to read. Then there are activities where by its very hard to find such a return on the time and effort spent, obviously activities such as television and video games tend to fall into the later category.

    I think that the longer you can guide a child’s passions into activities that are investments, the better for your child.

    My child is into Gran Turismo but I’m being careful that video games don’t drain his passion for other areas of life that will ultimately prove more rewarding for him. Hes gained a passion for cars, so I’m directing this passion to learning how they work which he enjoys.

  6. Steve,

    From reading your writing obsessing about your son playing video games, I can see where he gets his obsessiveness. (I hope that reads as a joke to you, because that’s the way I meant it.)

    Seriously, from having read many of your entries, I think you already know the answers to this dilemma. It seems to me that you believe that children are actually small people. It also seems to me that you recognize that adults are a product of whatever influences and recurrences from when they were children. That’s one of the reasons why you don’t like public schools.

    My personal opinion about video games, internet, television, or pretty much anything is that there isn’t anything inherently wrong with them. Most likely this obsession will follow the pattern of previous ones and your son will grow bored with it. That’s how it’s always been with me, anyway, when I’ve discovered a new obsession.

    The important thing, I think, is that you do what you’ve been doing. Stay involved, point out alternatives, and give a lot of guidance. I’m pretty sure you already do all of those things. Those things probably put you in the top 10% of dads or higher.

  7. Steve,

    I meant to say something about the following sentence in my reply, but somehow didn’t:

    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?

    What I wanted to say is that from reading your blog, you also seem to be coming to the realization that life is (or could/should be) mostly about fun, games, and happiness.

  8. Hey Everyone…
    Thanks for the comments.

    I agree about the moderation thing. I know you are right, but… I’ve tried moderation and it just doesn’t work for me and I’m afraid it won’t work for my oldest son either. I’m either full-on wide-open passionate or I’m bored. It’s a blessing and a curse. Obsession sucks if your passion is whiskey, but it ain’t so bad when your passion is reading or writing.

    Hey I’m glad to see you commenting. I think you were one of the first commenters on this site ever!

    No doubt about the content of these games… no GTA in my house…. Yet. And since I play the games with him, I’m not afraid of the content, but the obsession still scares me.

    Dan and Jennifer,
    I know what your are saying about the mind perceiving anything you feed it as reality. Crap in – crap out – right? Maybe that is what I’m afraid of – distorting his view of reality.

    Sorry to stereotype but… I thought all you Swedes were like us Minnesotans – obsessed with Ice Hockey. Am I wrong? You’ll never get fat playing ice hockey.

    I question whether video games do fall into the latter category. In our modern technologically advanced society, maybe excelling at video games is as important as excelling in music. It’s just a embryonic arena of understanding and competition. At one time authority and academics condemned fictional literature into the latter category.

    Thanks… you are getting to know me. I am completely obsessive and I take no offence to your joke. Calling me obsessive is like calling water wet. It is a fact. Yes… I do believe life should be fun and filled with games and frivolity. Damn straight!

  9. Great post man. I love to see introspection. Keep it up.
    I think it is better to do things in a more rounded and moderate way, but there are people out there who just blaze through life finding something they love and then doing it until they don’t like it anymore. I don’t know if one way is better then the other.
    Except with relationships. Hate to love a women for a while and then not. Or alcohol, love it and then get addicted..

  10. Hmm, yeah we play a lot of ice hockey here too. But I think that´s most popular in the north part of Sweden. In the south, where I live, I´d say that soccer and horse-riding are the most popular sports among kids nowadays. Table-tennis is pretty popular too (everyone played it when I was 10-15).

  11. Steve – Learning to read a map, the alphabet, words isn’t fun and games? Strange concept. Teach him that, and you may teach him to hate school.

    Obsessing isn’t bad in itself. It’s called focus. Obsessing is only bad if other needed things are ignored. Video games aren’t bad in and of themselves. They have a lot to teach – hand/eye coordination, problem-solving, pursuing goals, frustration tolerance – are these things bad. There is no comparison with popular television.

    One of my sons was severely ADHD – to the point that we put him on ritalin, sent him to Catholic school, and pursued other therapies. He wouldn’t read. He wouldn’t focus on anything except videos games. To teach him to read, and to instill a desire to read in him, we subscribed to Nintendo magazine. It worked. We played games with him to teach him to share and model frustration tolerance. It helped. With my kids in general, as long as they did what was required of them by us and school, I let them do whatever they pleased as long as it was within the bounds of the moral values we were trying to teach them. The son with ADHD – he’s been off all medications for years and is in the army. He still plays video games for hours on end, just like you and I read and write and many others here play games, but he can put it down when it’s time.

    An obsession is only destructive when it interferes with the rest of life.

  12. Video games are not at all bad. There are lots of educational games you can let your child play. As for the obsession, I agree with moderation.

  13. I don’t think video games are necessarily bad for kids, but it could be harmful if it’s a constant obsession. Is this any different than an obsession with a book? I’m not sure. The problem with video games is they don’t really lead anywhere. An obsession with reading leads to the improvement of language skills and vocabulary.

  14. If we don’t allow children to make and learn from their own mistakes, what kind of mistakes will they be making as an Adult? Will they be self-reliant or dependent on someone else to tell them what to do, when to eat, when to sleep, when to study….etc.

    We’re always trying to force children and people in general to do things that are contrary to their “nature”. Why? Why do humans think they can make others better? Why not let human nature take it course?

    “When we hate ourselves, we hate others.
    When we’re tolerant of ourselves, we tolerate others.”

    I’d like to add one more line to Eric Hoffer’s quote.

    “When we trust ourselves, we trust others.”

    See the Sudbury Valley School model of education for a system that fosters human creativity, and individual responsibility.

    No curriculum, No homework, No class schedules, Students decide what to do with their time by themselves. A place where students learn in freedom.

  15. My initial reaaction, is that of amazement. I mean to hear a story of a 4 year old playing too many video games. That to me is incredible. Most kids when they get hooked are at least 7 or 8. Having played spyro in the past, I can say that it is not as bad as some other games out there. In fact it is quite “tame” compared to industry standards.

    Honestly I think what you did was the proper course of action, but I do believe that you can divert your little toddler’s actions by perhaps getting him a new game system. I am sure the last thing you want to do is spend money, but this method would have a sort of two tier purpose. On the one hand you look like the “bad guy” for taking away his game, but once he saw the new system he would be simply enamored and think perhaps that is why you took it away. So what do I suggest for a game system?

    Nintendo is known for its kid friendly games , you can grab a game cube for cheap now , but if you really wanted to make an impression, and even you and your wife might be able to benefit from this. I suggest getting your hands on the Nintendo Wii, thus far most of the games on it are incredibly kid friendly and they even get you up and moving. Like the others above me have said, ultimately it will remain up to your judgement as to what is a good game and bad game; but you can always aim for something that will have a higher probability of being kid friendly.

    Pax Vobiscum,

  16. I remember when I was 5 years old and playing Defender on the atari 2600. I had gotten up to something like 970,000 with more lives than I could possibly burn through. All I wanted to do was hit 1,000,000, but my father pulled the plug to make me do some chore.

    I was soooooooo pissed; I still remember it to this day – nearly 25 years later. It sounds like you’re doing a great job of putting the “right” games in front of your kid, I say – let the kid finish. The last thing this world needs is more people that have no follow through and don’t finish what they start.

  17. The problem with video games is that they are a lot more addictive than a lot of other things. They are also easier to get along with than other people (or kids), and disconnect us from the world. This is a problem for a lot of adults, and older kids have actually died from malnutrition etc when they got too absorbed. A 4 year old is still building up his perception of the world.

    Not to say a kid shouldn’t be allowed down time, but I would second the vote for moderation. Of course it’s fundamentally important to let him enjoy the game, let him finish it – but make sure there’s a time limit or something, to ensure he has time for other interesting (real) things too!

  18. Everything in moderation.

    I was never a big proponent of the idea that “seeing violence breeds violence”, but then I had kids. Watching my son pick up every item in his world and turn it into a gun helped me to see that maybe I was wrong.

    My wife and I ride herd on all his video game playing now, and that’s no easy chore. 90% of the games out there are death and destruction, and 90% of the rest stink. I can’t stomach most of them myself.

  19. Very interesting topic. My kids are too young for video games but they’ll soon be there. I have nothing against video games but as long as my kids are young I would like the game not to be too violent. I would not let him play a cop-killing game at age 4.

    The amount of time played /the obesity/obsession angle depends in my view much on if he does other things as well. Doing nothing but playing video games is not a great idea. But playing after being outside a few hours is fine. I believe having a kid doing a bit of everything is a good idea.

    Spending tons of time playing at age 4 might be a little early but it toally depends on the child. Sounds like you have a bright kid who enjoys learning new things. You should be proud of that. Just the fact that youäre thinking and discussing the idea is a great thing.

    When I was young I watched almost no TV since there was no cable and no VCR’s. Times are different now but as long as my kids are involved in outdoor activities I have no problem letting them watch a some TV.

    Denying a child something usually leads to even more obsession, that might be something to think of.


  20. But yesterday after the fourth straight day of SMOKING CRACK, I pulled the plug on the CRACK. Now I am wondering whether I’ve done the right thing. I’m thinking of giving the CRACK 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 CRACK. 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 CRACK:

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

    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?

    I’ve told myself that I haven’t bought into the media hysteria CRACK. 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 CRACK. Why? What fear created my overreaction?

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

  21. Fred,

    I was going to delete you comment because I didn’t think it added value, but I changed my mind.

    Substitute the word CRACK in your rewrite with anything negative and it will read the same way. Try Cigarettes, Porn, Beer, Guns, Matches, Fireworks.

    Then rewrite it with positive objects like books, maps, writing, reading, golf, business, money, exercise, biking, running, gymnatics, martial arts.

    You re-write seems clever at first glance, but it isn’t. Most things aren’t as black and white as CRACK.

  22. I was taking the same view as you at one time. I thought this is my child’s enjoyment and happiness. I felt like “who am I to take away something he finds to be so fun”. Well now I can say I was most likely incorrect. I have since been in many situations where I tell my son that it’s time for homework or bed and I am completely ignorted. The worst part about it is that he looks at me like I’m a terrible person for asking him to shut off the games. The evil looks I get are enough to know that he is angry at me and resents me for expecting him to do anything but play video games

    I’m now at the point that I see how the negative side impacts him. He started playing video games at around 5. He was seriously into them by the time he was 7. Now he is 10 and I think it is too late to turn back. Don’t get me wrong, my son is intelligent and gets good grades. He even made it into the state spelling bee this year. However, this is where things start to get ugly.

    I bought my son the Nintendo DS when it first came out (the older version with the strange shape to it). For a long time he played with it and everything seemed quite normal. After having the game for about a year he came to me to tell me it was broken. I asked how it broke. He himed and hawed about it and finally told me that he punched it. He apparently became to angry at it that he punched it and broke it. Needless to say that he wasn’t the one that purchasaed the thing for $150 plus tax, nor did he stand in a crazy line at an obscenely early time on Christmas Eve just to get one of the few that were available at the time.

    I know this will sound even worse. I have since purchased him the Nintendo DS Lite and within 5 months it is again broken. He did the exact same thing to this one. I have now discoved that his Nintendo Game Cube is also broken due to frustrations at his games taken out on the system. I have since sent in his DS lite for repair. I actually felt bad that he couldn’t play his games anymore. I even felt guilty for not replacing it.

    I guess the question now is “what’s wrong with me?” I feel like I’ve become an enabler to a drug addict. This is so sad. I feel like a horrible parent because I should have seen this coming. The worst thing is my child is so gentle and docile. He has never shown aggression in any situation or any type of hostility. These games have brought out something ugly in him. He is now checking outside everyday to see if his system has been shipped back to us from the Nintendo headquarters where it is being repaired. I know it will break his heart but I’m going to have to give it to charity or something. I don’t even know if I should do that since this could cause this same situation for someone else!

    If anyone elso has experienced this I would love to read what you have to say about this.

  23. You sound like a reasonable parent. Your at least doing the right thing by worrying about how you treat your kid. That’s thoughtful.

    My advice is to wait till when your kid isn’t around and try playing for 15 minutes on one of those games yourself. Just jump in and don’t worry about messing the game up.

    If you play the game maybe you’ll get a little closer to understanding what’s happening in your kids mind. You’ll get an inside perspective.

  24. There’s also listening.

    Listening with out judgement will get more respect from a child than anything.

    Heck, we all love it when some one listens to us.

    Asking questions are a beginning.

  25. jo is right, ask the brat to go out and play a real life game, sitting stationary in front of a screen for long hours everyday is not what the human body is designed for. Children need to go out and get exercise and interact with other real people. Replacing quality time with a video game wont do the kid any good!!!.

  26. Wow. Thought provoking article. I feel you there, man. I was raised by my dad, my mom ran out on us. And we played video games ALL THE TIME.

    To be honest, I was a part of the NES/SNES craze in my youth. Around 5-7 years old, I think… I remember seeing the Super Nintendo on sale in our local store and saying “Dad! I’ve GOT to get THAT!” The fun part was my dad said “You know what? So do I.”

    Video games were our family time. My dad LOVED the games as much as my brother and I did. Talking about how to defeat the bosses made communication between us so much easier. When we were confused trying to figure out a dungeon in Zelda, I would draw out maps and mark where the treasure chests were since the maps were seperate screens and it was bothersome to switch between playing and looking at the map. It taught me how to read maps and decern them. Dad would follow my maps and that made me feel proud. When we finally beat Zelda, he said “We did it!” even though he had the controller in his hand. We were active in it then, and we always were.

    After I got into high school, I played things with more involving plots – I never liked stuff onpar with GTA, my dad taught me that blood and violence doesn’t always equal fun. Instead, we played adventure games or RPGs, which are just another way of telling a story. :3 We talked about the characters, what we thought was going to happen… it was a very interactive movie, almost. That’s how I see RPGs. A story you can interact with and control the pace of.

    My dad would always say stuff like “When you get to a save point, kiddo, you need to do your chores.” He never actually unplugged the console, ever. He’d actually tell me to save it because he knew how hard it was to beat bosses or solve certain puzzles – and it was great. It brought us so much closer because we had that bond.

    My dad lost his sight for the most part and can’t play games with my brother and I anymore. Now I’m married to a gamer and pregnant with my first child, I’m going to handle it the way my dad did. There is so much potential in building relationships through gaming, if the parents get involved and encourage children. I wasn’t able to play a one player game like Zelda when my dad had the controller in his hand – but he would say “Draw me a map” or “We were just beaten by that big scorpion… did you notice any weak spot while fighting?” And even my little brother, who was learning to talk would point and grunt to try and help. Dad never neglected us for gaming, he got us involved. And I thank him everyday for it. It made me into the person I am today, still dedicating much of my free time to my gaming. Heck, my husband and I play strategy games together, he asks my opinion all the time and vice versa. My brother and I are always playing stuff, comparing notes and such.

    Here’s something interesting: My brother HATED books. We taught him to read with our favorite games that don’t have voices. He wanted to know the plot, he was going to have to learn to read. And it worked. Eventually he picked up books, too, but at first that was challenging.

    …But if you treat games as just a babysitter, then of course you won’t understand exactly what’s going on and you’ll question yourself. I say get involved and try to engage yourself in what he’s doing – you might have a lot of fun!

    Enjoy. <3

  27. Make it an activity, or even a hobby. Like everyone says, don’t let it stop other activities.

    What are they gaining from video games?

    Imagination. Don’t tell me the outdoors gives the only imagination.

    The ability to solve problems from a outer perspective.

    Nonlinear thinking.

    Small children are extremely influential, and I believe you should monitor but have fun with them.

    But as they grow up, just remember –
    Video games are a waste of time.
    Football is a waste of time.
    Cheerleading is a waste of time.
    Clubs are a waste of time.
    Learning to knit is a waste of time.

    But their all hobbies, fields of expertise with rewards for the skilled. You can make more $$$ in competitions as a young adult or adult with gaming second to none but professional sports, an equally hard, and damaging road.

    Don’t diss video games, I doubt you could even beat one to the end, you ADD socioentrapped half-wits.

  28. I LOVE video games just like jan-chan my dad love to play to, and now im in to halo and star wars battle front

  29. Hi,
    Thank you for sharing. I would say i’m today still dedicating much of my free time to my gaming.My husband and I play strategy games together, he asks my opinion all the time and vice versa. My brother and I are always playing stuff

  30. I believe that you should do some research on the game and think about the benefits and if there are none you should see if you could get him off of spyro
    and if that is not a possible get him on a flight simulator atleast he would know how to fly a plane by the time he is ten.

  31. I found the authors story quite interesting. I would have to agree with the majority of the comments, in that video games in moderation are not dangerous, The true danger lies in the sad fact that video game consoles are used as electronic babysitters and kids can spend far too much time plugged in to them. I have two nephews, great kids but in my opinion there parents are too permissive with them and not monitoring their activities. They have a Xbox and spend 4 to 5 hours on it a day. When they are told to turn it off the tantrums start so it’s just easier to give in.
    my main fear is that, like the author, they will become inactive slugs with the social skills of a mushroom and no moral compass to speak of. Parents must remember that they are the principle influence in their childrens lifes and when something, anything, eclipses that alarm bells should go off.

  32. Aloha from Hawaii. I have a 9 year old whom has played video games since he was 2 (grand tourismo) on PSX and played Online MMORPG’s since he was 4 (Pristontale, maplestory, Guildwars, Lunia, Flyff, GO, KongKong, Ect.) we all play video games and online games as a family as well. He owns PSX, gamecube, DS, Gameboy micro. I know you’re thinking we are game freaks but let me explain…him as a human being..
    he is incredibly intelligent in all areas (math, reading, writing, art, music ect.) he is also the kindest most compassionate child in school (thats what teachers, counselor, principal) tell me. He does all his homework almost without assistance. He also speaks fluent Japanese. He is a student in a Charter school. His outside activites beside being a little daredevil is track and soccer. He has also taken ballet. He plays outside as much he can and is very healthy and lean. Those things being said these are what playing these games have thought him..
    1) he is a very fast and fluent reader (due to playing MMORPGs which requires you to read and type fast or you lose instructions on what to do)
    2) he also writes well (im sure his clan members never would guess he is 9 he knows all the details to quests, builds, skills,ect)
    3) he is patient ( Korea and japan usually have the open beta versions way advance than global versions so he waits months on end to get what he needs or special chracters he wants to play)
    4) team guildwars he goes on mission and gains factions but need a team about 20 to accomplish it. they all must work together or risk failing. He loves to build support characters like healers and monks.

    As you can see it isn’t all that bad.

  33. Videogames can sometimes provide a learning experience. Although, most videogames that are popular are very violent. What troubles me most is the things that can come up on online games. With headsets that many children use when playing on these games, there are many arguements that involve very bad language and threats. I own a Xbox360 and I have experienced these things. I think that it is unacceptable that parents are letting kids as young as 8 or 9 to play very violent “M” rated games. On the more positive side, I think it is great that children learn to use teamwork on these online games. I am not so worried of the blood and violence in games, but the immature fighting that frequently occurs.

  34. I just had my SIL’s child show up at my door asking if my son could come play outside. I asked him why he didn’t come in, he stated “because my mom doesn’t want me playing video games.” My blood boiled! This coming from a child’s mother who thinks nothing of sending her kids outside in freezing weather, or plunking them down in front of the tv watching movie videos for hours on end. My son is 6 months younger (4 yo) and has more brains due to his Nintento Wii and Xbox than both her kids! He quickly learned to spell his name because to be able to play, one must enter their name, he can read quite a bit because he has to know what it says to continue the game… am I worried?… not one bit. There’s a “balance” and as long as he WANTS to play outside or WANTS to play his video games I’m fine with that 🙂 By “banning” a child, from anything, you create a much worse situation.

  35. you know i realy need this answered couse i play games alot but i way like 128 lbs and im 16 i think games like ddr and guitar hero and rock bank make you work to burn fats and games like spyro and World of war craft help with math grammer spelling and punctuation and your typing speed now games like grand theft auto those should be avoided dont let your kids play that game. Video games also help give kids an amigination let your kid play he is young and the real world hits at 18 that boy needs to be a kid. Now i dont get what the big fus is about either i play video games 6 hours strieght till i get hungery its no big deal i get nothing but A’s in school only things games dont help with any more is spelling but niether does a dictionary i hate when my perent seas if you dont know how to spell something look it up in the dictionary but in order to look up a word dont you need to know how it is spelled? So i think games are good for you to a degree to much is obssesive to little and you brain wash your kids into a bunch of things that they dont need to know till they reach high school.

  36. I spelled alot of words wrong and did not use grammer on my last comment becouse I am lazy not becouse im bad at using it.

  37. Steve i think your kid is going so some how be a WIZZ! The ps1 maby shows that he is getting board of his learning. Now i am 15 and i have ps3 now by the sounds of this your a great farther. I wish i was similar to your son. 4 days straight maby a tad to much but HEY look when he realises that what you did was a good thing maby he will turn around and thank you when he is a multi-millionair but until then he is only a kid and man this is our only time to actualy have fun! Let him choose what he wants let him RUN YOU WORLD lol but the most important thing is that you dont force him into something he dosent want to be. I have seen kids in my class like that and boy man they arent happy. so for now let him play make sure he gets to do other things but playing is fun and he is a kid let him be. I know you will make the right choice. =D

  38. If Mozart grew up in our society of video game addiction, would so many generations benefit from his music? Or, would he have been busy playing video games with his time, along with all of his buddies down the street?

    NOT having access to video games would naturally force a child to be creative and resourceful with their time. That is, with the right guidance from a good parent. Every moment spent playing video games, is time spent not reading, not drawing, not playing outside, not learning a musical instrument, not being creative, not being artistic, and not socializing with real people. I will call it, “Digital Detachment Syndrome”.

    ANYWAYS- very relevant topic for today! I could write a book on this subject, based on my experience from hell. And I mean literally hell. Video games make demons out of my kids, and not just mine, but all children I have observed in my experience.

    Well I conclude that the “benefits” of video games do not outweigh the negative aspects. They’re not worth it, and they’re just another, ultimately unproductive distraction we have today. I personally, am not proud of the fact that my children learned to read at ages four, as a result of navigating the on-screen menus in Lego Star Wars.

    As a result of finally getting rid of the game console, I will, gosh darnit, have to work harder as a parent. Instead of relying on my digital babysitter, I will now have to be creative and resourceful as a parent. My kids will actually have to play with toys. I will have to spend more time teaching, guiding, and playing with them. They will know what dirt is, and how to play in it! Just like when I was an unfortunate outcast, who grew up without the beloved technology. What a shame.

  39. Hey Steve, I actually came upon this page when researching for a persuasive essay for my english II class. I’m a sophomore, and my dad bought me a ps1 when I was in 2nd grade. he also bought me a gameboy color (wow, that long ago) along with Pokemon Silver. At the time I was completely immersed into it, and I admit I was completely addicted. I regret that this happened at such a young age, but it was because I was banned from any games other than Fisher-Price educationals on PC (nothing against them, they are great learning tools). This led to an explosion, and that’s the only way I can describe it. After maybe 6 months my mom took away the gameboy but not the ps1. Not only because I was not obsessed but “possessed,” thinking only of the games and getting to the next town and beating the next boss (what a strange name, now that I think about it).
    It was then that I sank into utter rebellion and resentment against my parents for taking away my games, but i must admit at the time I really didn’t think about controlling myself not once, and it was the right choice for my mom.
    After selling my ps1 because of moving to another country, I raised the subject again about video games to my mom, and after a night of discussion she agreed to buy a ps2 in 2004 (four years after its release), if I would take violin lessons. to me, it was a fair exchange, but I hated practicing the violin completely, but it was worth it because I could play half an hour on saturdays and sundays. the point of learning the violin was to that my parents could get me to do something other than games, which worked. my mind was kept off video games for the most part, and now I still follow that standard, except I can play longer and I don’t take lessons anymore because my mom thought I was already good enough to play the violin without lessons, which is kind of true.

    My point is, banning your child won’t do any good, and it’ll just make your child put as much of his life into it whenever the chance arises, which is worse than letting him play regularly with moderation.
    Like keeping air in a balloon. parents closing the opening and putting more pressure into the child will only make them explode and destroy your child. or, when you get tired you put your mouth away from the opening, air comes out so quick and so much that you have to limit your child from playing again by putting air in again. It’s better to let some pressure out by allowing your child to play games once in a while, after doing something productive in the “outside world.” that way your child can stay saturated with your guidance and won’t become resentful and explode in rebellion, which I did.

    summing up, don’t make him stop playing, just remember to keep track of his games and play time, and maybe talk and explain to your child about the negative implications of playing games, and help them to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.

    and always remember that he’s just a kid, and there’s still 14 more years to teach him and guide him. take your time and learn from your mistakes.

  40. Wow.
    That is weird with the whole writing the words in the dicitary thing.
    but cool that he wants to learn
    im 13 i HATE learning i am in school. right now. i am reaserching if video games are bad for kids,, do you think so?

  41. Get him a wii… they can be active.. or leap frog stuff. my nephew is six now and he plays video games a lot but he is also active and doing great in school.

  42. ps. video games can be good. if a child plays a good puzzle game or math game or etc it makes learning fun. yes playing video games 24/7 is bad. but spending some time NOT outside and not drawing isnt going to hurt one bit. i grew up playing video games. I am not expressive because i play video games. go with what you feel is right. video games are what is a big part of our culture.

  43. Reading your comments makes me think of my childhood. i just wanted to add that i dont feel that video games are as bad as people want to make them. i feel you have done the right thing, knowing that this is a year after the fact, and you will keep doing it.

    i was a very distructive kid. i was always in trouble with the police and anyone with athority. but i dont blame the video games. to be very blunt about it, it was my mothers fault.

    she was a single mother with two teenage boys who thought they knew the way the world worked. (boy were we wrong) it really wasnt her fault, because i know that she tried as hard as she could, working two jobs and trying to always be at our events. but she couldnt be around all the time.

    anyway back on track, from the age of six video games have always been a passion of mine. from my first one Socates in 88′ to my 360 and PS3 now, i have always had one or more. i never realized or wanted to believe the hold they had on me… until i read your post this morning. but over the past years i have decided to do something creative with my passion. im now pursuing a career in IT with a BA in Networking and an AAS in Computer Information Systems. Video games have always been a part of my life and they always will be; i just wish i had the parenting that you are giving your child. kudos to you and any parten that is willing to spend some time with their child.

    good luck with life and i will check back often for new topics.

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