Video games are the bane of my existence. I have the power to eradicate them from my home. The only problem is that I live here with other people. Some of those people have chosen to side with the video games.
If I let the video games stay, I can impose rules that will control the amount of time my children can play them and I can monitor the appropriateness of these games. They can also be used as a threat when someone refuses to eat their vegetables. If I eradicate them, they will go “underground.”
They are like illegal drugs; seemingly harmless, but slowly wreaking havoc and impossible to get rid of without losing control of the situation. The addiction will seep into every facet of a child’s life.
I’ve seen it happen and could only stand by and watch. No matter what restrictions I put on them, the path doesn’t change.
It starts out by some “dealer” saying “Try this.” The kid will try because their “dealer” is usually someone they trust, like their dad, older brother or close friend.
Then, you watch cartoonish animals running around a screen and falling off buildings. You think, “That’s kind of cute. The little guy is trying to rescue a princess.” You think, “It teaches good values. What’s the harm?”
The game keeps him busy and out of your hair, right? What’s not to like?
Then you begin to notice that the games begin to take precedence over everything else; schoolwork, chores, family game night, friends… everything.
“It’s time for bed.”
“Just let me get to a place where I can save the game.”
You don’t want to be rude, but it apparently takes 15 - 30 minutes to arrive at this safe place. Bedtime, which used to be set in stone, is now suddenly negotiable.
I have taken to pulling out the plug when it takes more than 30 seconds to get to a safe place. They know it, and expect it. It’s amazing how fast they get to their safe place now. My husband warns me about future computer malfunctions caused by improper shut downs… Ask me if I care.
No matter that I have, long ago, restricted game-playing to a few hours on the weekend. If we have plans for an outing, the video games somehow wend their insidious way into those plans.
“Okay, I’ll help clean up the garage, Mom, after my three hours of game time. Otherwise, someone else will be on the computer and I won’t have a chance to play.”
Well, that wouldn’t be very fair, would it?
My children have learned that it is far easier for me to ban video games for the entire weekend rather than try to schedule our plans around them.
“We’re going to be gone all day?! But I didn’t get to play video games yet!”
I started out not wanting to be rude and trying to accommodate the interests of my children. After all, I know it would’ve upset me if my parents banned the activities I liked to do. Even if they thought those activities were not good for me, I still would have been mad.
The fact that my children may be mad at me doesn’t seem to bother me as much as the thought of seeing a virtual weapon in their virtual hands being used on virtual people.
“But Mom, they’re zombies, not real people. They have no brains, or conscience.”
It doesn’t take long for those cute little cartoon characters to become zombies, does it? How long will it be before they think I’m a zombie? How long before the virtual weapon becomes real?
The trick, I think, is to keep them grounded in real life 90% longer than they are immersed in a virtual life. At least, I hope that’ll work.
Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org Or visit her website www.lauraonlife.com for more info.
Laura is a syndicated columnist, author, & speaker. You can reach Laura at email@example.com Or visit her website <a
for more info.