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Is there any reason we SHOULD have video games?

post #1 of 48
Thread Starter 
We are the only family I know with a 7 year old and no video games.
It's not that I think they are the devil, I just think they are a waste of time and zap kids lives away. I don't like the way I have seen some people become entranced by them. It kind of scares me.
I let the kids watch TV for about 40 minutes about 3 X a week. I already feel like thats enough of that kind of entertainment.

Are my kids going to be out of the technology loop? Am I not letting a part of them develop that is inevitably the way their generation is going to be functioning? Are they good for them in some way?
What do you moms with older kids think?
post #2 of 48
I don't think there's any reason you need to get them video games; however, there may come a time when they really, really want them and you may or may not re-think your stance.

We made it 8 years (with four kids at that point) w/o any gaming systems, and then decided to get a wii, and later DS's for the kids. I haven't regretted that at all, a year later, except that now our wii is broken and it kinda bums me that we have all these expensive games sitting around with nothing to play them on. My kids don't seem to miss it much, though, and find plenty of other ways to entertain themselves. We'll probably get a new game system at some point (possibly even another wii), but I don't feel, at least with my kids, that they suck their lives away and that they only want to play them. Not at all, actually - they did plenty of other things besides play games. But I understand how others can feel differently.

So, no, I don't think you are doing your kids a disservice by not having a gaming system. I'm sure they will have plenty of opportunities to play them at other people's homes, yk?
post #3 of 48
*shrug* We don't have video games, either, and don't have any plans to. We also really limit computer time. And we don't have a TV.
post #4 of 48
Other than being left out of conversations on the playground (yeah, a lot of it is about games), there really is no 'should'.

They're fun. We have a Wii. My family gathers around it, socializes, laughs, interacts. It's not a solo thing.

I played vid games as a kid and honestly, my reflexes are pretty darn quick I think due to them. I played a lot - not overly crazy. I'm normal, have normal social skills and I'm a productive member of the human race...so...
post #5 of 48
There are no compelling reasons for you to buy a console/video game. At all. Ever. If you're pressed for time, you can stop reading now =).

My perspective? DH grew up playing video games on various Nintendo platforms. His family was poor, so he actually had to get a job delivering newspapers to save up the money for the console and games. He never got to go to arcades. He grew up to work for several years in the gaming industry (programming games), so he's definitely got a unique perspective on video games, equating them with lots of hard work.

We recently bought Super Mario Bros. for the Wii (boy, does it come in handy to have a Nintendo expert available for me and DS for quick explanations, tips, and tricks) and DH spent hours one weekend night, blasting through an unbelievable number of levels, enjoying the nostalgia, admiring the improved game play and graphics, and still demonstrating incredible hand/eye coordination and superb timing. But DH rarely plays video games these days.

When I was a kid, we never had a console (our cousins had an Atari, and it was fun to play together). I'd sometimes get to go to Chuck E. Cheese's to play the video games there, but my favorite was skee ball, which isn't a video game. In college, DH bought himself a Playstation, and he'd spend hours playing his role-playing games while I watched and tried to stay awake. Watching someone else play puts me to sleep!

Since college, we've bought several different consoles and have owned a variety of different types of games (RPGs, combat games, puzzle games, etc). For DH, it's always been a great way to unwind or pass the time. He's not addicted, though. For me, after half an hour of playing, I'm done. We're both well-adjusted, intelligent adults, btw.

DH has amazing spatial skills. Is it only b/c he's spent hours playing video games? No. His brain is just wired that way. Have some of the games he's spent hours on helped hone those skills? Sure. Is it advantageous to his daily life? No (although we used to joke that it was when defensive driving in LA traffic). Does he even talk about games with other people? Almost never.

We have consoles and video games. DS has free access to all the media in our house, but he's not exhibiting addictive behavior, so it's not a problem for us. He's 5.5 yo. The entire family's favorite game is a problem solving one called Boom Blox Bash Party for the Wii. It's a lot of fun to play some games. Other games, though, are just too hard/frustrating (for DS and for me). Having fun while working on your logic skills (and reading a bit) and problem solving capabilities is a good thing! It's just that video games aren't the only way to accomplish those things.

Yes, they can be fun, but they are by no means essential to a happy childhood. The consoles and the games are expensive, and there are a lot of crappy games out there, so if you ever do decide to enter the video game world, please read plenty of reviews and do some research on both consoles and games before investing your money.

Learning how to use a computer is way more critical to today's youth than any video game could ever be. I wouldn't worry about my DS being left out of the technological loop if we didn't have consoles/video games at all. Not knowing what the internet is, though...now that would be out of the loop!
post #6 of 48
I don't think all video games are a total waste of time. Familiarization with the digital world is not a waste of time. Computers are valuable tools and a lot of things are done using touch-screens, touch-pads, etc. Yes, we learned it later but our kids will be competing for jobs with children who have been exposed from an early age.

It's all about balance. Spatial skills do not come from video games, they come from playing in real life. I have heard in the Army that young recruits can't throw grenades nearly as well as older recruits. But they can shoot very well. Why? It's all a matter of experience.

We don't spend all day at the park (though we spend several hours), and DD1 doesn't spend more than 30 minutes a day playing any kind of video game. She has a v-tech (hand-me-down) and she gets to play on poissonrouge.org, pbskids.org, or starfall.com. I want her to be comfortable in the digital world but not addicted...

like me...
post #7 of 48
Thread Starter 
[QUOTE]
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
I don't think all video games are a total waste of time. Familiarization with the digital world is not a waste of time. Computers are valuable tools and a lot of things are done using touch-screens, touch-pads, etc. Yes, we learned it later but our kids will be competing for jobs with children who have been exposed from an early age.
This is what Im worried about.
I also didnt mention that my older kids 7 and 5, know nothing about the computer. I dont want them to suffer from my choices.
I feel like my kids have an advantage in one way. They can go outside and peel acorns or collect rocks and leaves for hours. Most of the kids in this neighborhood carry around a DS. If their parents told them to find something to do, they would be lost.
But... this is the world we live in and it's not little house on the prarie anywhere else (unless all of us MDCers could make our own town)
I think I might need to take the everything in moderation approach with this stuff. I'll probably wait till they are older and have their own interest in it.
post #8 of 48
My dd has a ds and is much more interested in rocks and leaves and acorns, so I wouldn't assume that introduction of a video game system would stop a child from those interests. I've seen kids who can't have fun without video games, but from what I've seen, kids who are given pretty free reign to go outside and play when they want play outside more regardless of whether they have a ds, and kids who are only allowed to go outside when a parent has time to go out with them are more likely to use video games a lot. Same with TV. My dd would never choose to use the ds on a beautiful day because there's too much else going on, but she does like it in bad weather and on trips.

Having said that, a child doesn't need one. I am, however, into following a child's interests, and some kids are simply "computer geek" types, and they don't do too badly in the long run with all their video game and computer experience. I don't think there's anything wrong with kids having a passion for that, if it's out of an internal interest and not out of boredom or lack of other opportunities. I think computers and video games are unfairly demonized sometimes. If a child is fascinated in sports, it's a good thing, but to be fascinated in computers is a bad thing? It seems like some personality styles are given more value than others.
post #9 of 48
Two of my reasons are quoted here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drummer's Wife View Post
I don't think there's any reason you need to get them video games; however, there may come a time when they really, really want them and you may or may not re-think your stance.
I want to respect my child's deep desires. esp. because my dd has the personality where obsession = deep curiosity. once she is over the curiosity she loses that play all the time obsession.

Quote:
Originally Posted by EdnaMarie View Post
I don't think all video games are a total waste of time. Familiarization with the digital world is not a waste of time. Computers are valuable tools and a lot of things are done using touch-screens, touch-pads, etc. Yes, we learned it later but our kids will be competing for jobs with children who have been exposed from an early age.

It's all about balance.
This is how i look at it too.

and Thirdly (though i am talking about computers here) how can i forbid my child from playing with something that I myself play with. What kind of message is that sending my child. Do as I say but not as i do. That its OK for 'me' but not for them. my dd is a 'thinker' and so she questions all these things.

in that sense video games is a 'must' for us because it is a place of questioning. for instance dd plays on the computer. and she shares all the cool games she plays. she is both the outdoorsy kind as well as the computer kind. she knows how to search the web for her kinda games AND about online safety.

she would like a DS but we cant afford one. however we talked about it - expensive games vs variety of online games and she prefers the netbook.

my child who has an eye for things has loved the video games world. we arent anywhere near horses but she loooves horses. she loved the take care of horses game. of course not the same IRL but she could get a sense fo what is required.

she has seen her teenage friends play VD and at 7 had the conversation about war.

what i am learning from my dd is that she sees the world differently, and she has consistently 'taken' different 'aspects' of video games. its like its not JUST video games - but a place to think too.

it has also helped her with strategy too. and along with that figure out what the game designer is trying to do. like to be able to see how farmville is trying to trick you into spending money on their games.

the games have definitely built up an awareness for her.
post #10 of 48
My kids get 30 minutes of screen time a day and they almost always choose Wii. Is there a reason why you prefer TV to video games?

I do think they help with hand-eye coordination. And my husband likes to play with them so it's some dude bonding time.
post #11 of 48
[QUOTE=mom2happy;15938198]
Quote:
I feel like my kids have an advantage in one way. They can go outside and peel acorns or collect rocks and leaves for hours. Most of the kids in this neighborhood carry around a DS. If their parents told them to find something to do, they would be lost.
My kids spend about 3 hours a day (on school days-- more on weekends) playing outside. They also play Wii for 30 minutes most days and know how to use email/google/youtube/etc. It's not either/or.
post #12 of 48
As others have said, video games do have benefits, like hand-eye coordination and familiarity with electronics overall.

I also think they have a lot of educational bonuses without even having to play "educational" games. RPGs in particular require reading skills, patience, strategy, problem solving, decision-making, and help build confidence.

Sure, there are mindless games, but outside of the first-person shooters and Mario-type games (the latter are fun for sure, though, and there's tremendous value, IMO, in fun for fun's sake) most video games have hidden benefits. The military uses video game-like simulators to enhance and train our troops for a reason- they're effective learning tools!

Here are a few links to articles about the benefits of video games, which include things we usually think video games hurt, like social skills and attention span:

1

2

3

(Disclaimer- both DH and I were avid gamers as young kids (my first game was Tink Tonk in the Land of the Buddy Bots for the C64!) and currently own roughly 2 dozen different consoles- most are vintage systems, but the PS3, Xbox 360, and Wii are in constant rotation.)

brb, I have to go learn more about alchemy and homunclui in Atelier Rorona (which is also teaching me Japanese, as the voice acting can be set to be 100% Japanese, with English subtitles!)
post #13 of 48
[QUOTE=mom2happy;15938198]
Quote:
I think I might need to take the everything in moderation approach with this stuff. I'll probably wait till they are older and have their own interest in it.
Sounds very reasonable to me

My 9 yo still has little/no interest in video games, but likes some online games. Most of her friends have a DS and a Wii, but it doesn't present any issues or problems in playing together. Sometimes she plays Wii at a friend's house, but not very often. In fact, on two separate occasions, she's had a borrowed game at our house for a couple weeks (once a DS that was left here, and once a Wii that a friend lent while out of town). Both times, dd picked it up once or twice and then lost interest. My dd really likes Guitar Hero when we visit relatives/friends that have that, but she much prefers that, instead of buying a game system and Guitar Hero, we bought her a REAL guitar and pay for lessons

These game systems aren't cheap, and I don't see the point of buying them until/unless the child is already very interested--and even then, I'd try borrowing one first to see if they will quickly lose interest.
post #14 of 48
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJB View Post

I do think they help with hand-eye coordination. And my husband likes to play with them so it's some dude bonding time.
I miss this (now that our wii isn't working). DH and my oldest DS would play together, at times, and I really think it was good for them. Sure, they also go outside and play catch with the football together and bond, but there is something about them sitting right next to each other, working together on a common goal and talking pretty continuously. I think it's Mario Galaxy 2 that they stayed up late to beat, but it's a game where both people are playing at the same exact time, and collaborating with what they are doing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mom2happy View Post

My kids spend about 3 hours a day (on school days-- more on weekends) playing outside. They also play Wii for 30 minutes most days and know how to use email/google/youtube/etc. It's not either/or.
This is my kids, too. They play outside for hours most days, but they still use the computer or a game system often, as well. It doesn't mean they are addicted and would pass up bike riding with each other to play their DS or even watch a movie on Netflix. I can't ever see that happening.
post #15 of 48
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJB View Post
My kids get 30 minutes of screen time a day and they almost always choose Wii. Is there a reason why you prefer TV to video games?
No, I guess it wouldn't make a difference. That's probably what I'll do if the time comes. I dont see myself saying "no way" to video games, but I dont want to encourage them.
post #16 of 48
Thread Starter 
[QUOTE=MJB;15938296]
Quote:
Originally Posted by mom2happy View Post

My kids spend about 3 hours a day (on school days-- more on weekends) playing outside. They also play Wii for 30 minutes most days and know how to use email/google/youtube/etc. It's not either/or.
That is good to know. Sometimes I get dramatic about things. It wouldnt have to be either/ or, especially when there would be time limits.
Gosh- it's like Im seeing technology as something that threatens childhood. I am just too darn sensitive and think I need to loosen up.
post #17 of 48
[QUOTE=mom2happy;15938198]
Quote:


I also didnt mention that my older kids 7 and 5, know nothing about the computer. I dont want them to suffer from my choices.
I feel like my kids have an advantage in one way. They can go outside and peel acorns or collect rocks and leaves for hours. Most of the kids in this neighborhood carry around a DS. If their parents told them to find something to do, they would be lost.
.
Hmm...my kids play outside for hours, are incredibly social and have lots of friends, are not overweight from lack of activity...and they play Wii about once a week, have computer screen time, have a handheld (not a DS), and watch some tv. I really think that's your statement's a gross generalization. When we hear about the evils and ills of things like screen time and vid games, it's usually from the most extreme cases...the kids who end up on Maury Povich or something because they're 5 and 200 lbs. In these extreme situations, the kids and parenting are likely predisposed to social/physical issues anyway, and this exacerbates it.

It's about balance. No, no one gets unlimited screen time.

I actually teach my kids to be technologically literate. They play games, learned to google and use wikipedia, learn about the world with google earth and space, they can type, their spelling's improved, as well as tons of culture from youtube. Penpals on email. etc. My DD said that her and a friend (remember, they're 6) had to teach their teacher how to do something on the computer.

And I'm not even ahead of the game. Kids HER AGE have iPods, iPads, laptops, and so on.

So yeah...the computer part, I'm not sure I agree with as I consider familiarity a life tool and almost an expectation at school. But that's just my bias, obviously.

I'll be honest here and go so far as to say that I wouldn't rank playing with leaves for an hour as having higher educational/useful/fun value to them as a self-motivated hour on the computer learning about space/playing space games/watching clips of space documentaries/googling photos of nebulae/etc. etc. Again, IMO.
post #18 of 48
Thread Starter 
[QUOTE=Cascadian;15938859]
Quote:
Originally Posted by mom2happy View Post
I'll be honest here and go so far as to say that I wouldn't rank playing with leaves for an hour as having higher educational/useful/fun value to them as a self-motivated hour on the computer learning about space/playing space games/watching clips of space documentaries/googling photos of nebulae/etc. etc. Again, IMO.
See, this isnt what I posted the thread about really. I was talking about games, not learning from the computer.
Using the internet as an educational tool is nothing short of amazing.
When they show an interest in looking up info on google I will surely accomodate that with supervision.

I also wasnt expressing that my kids have a higher education. I will say, however, if we get together with other families in an unstructured setting there are many children who just hang around and complain that there is nothing to do. I strongly feel its because they are provided with constant entertainment/ sports/ extra curricular activities.
Im not even talking about the extremes.
That is the advantage I believe my kids have. As far as them losing out on another advantage- that is what Im trying to figure out here.
post #19 of 48
My DH had ADHD and his pedi recommended video games to help with attention span and it did wonders.
post #20 of 48
People who have them will argue they are useful. I don't see any use and no reason at all to have them. None. Dh is a computer science professor and I am a SAHM, former programmer (still do web design) and neither of us had video games. In fact, dh, who is in his 50's, was never even exposed to TV or computers until college. He's top in his field, which happens to be computer vision, so obviously having video games around has nothing to do with talent in the field. Whatever "motor skills" one might gain can easily be gained by doing the actual *physical* activity, rather than pretending to do it on a screen. I just see no redeeming qualities in video games.
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