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Birthday gift conundrum

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

So, my soon to be 5 year old has decided he wants a "thing to play video games on".  I have no idea where he's even been exposed to them, or what exactly he's referring to.  But he mentioned this to his aunt (whose 3 kids are all video game addicts and they have struggles over this all the time at their house), and apparently my nephew jumped on the internet and ordered a gameboy type thing for my son.  My first reaction, is WHAT???? Really, you don't come back and ask me if it's ok?  But seriously, I don't want to have video game power struggles in my house.  I've seen nothing but screaming and yelling over video games in their house, and my nephews walking around like zombies back when they were into the handhelds.  Now they're just glued to their screens playing whatever violent shoot em ups on their laptops.  I realize other people may have different experience with video games, but both dh and I have been addicted to them ourselves in the past, and we both hugely regret the time wasted.  No not the occasional Minesweeper game while chatting with someone on the phone, but full on playing nothing else for days, instead of other more productive things.  Anyhow, I definitely do not want to introduce this into our house right now, and especially something that's portable, that you can take to a restaurant, a birthday party, the park, etc.  Yes, I can set limits, but I just don't feel like having this struggle, as we already struggle over the amount of candy with ds1.  So, I have 4 ways of dealing with this gift, and I need help deciding which is best:

 

1 - not accept it.  Just not accept the package and return it "return to sender".  Pros:  it's not even in our house Cons:  my nephew will be disappointed (the one who picked it out), he could mention it to my son, and then my son would feel like I'm being mean or that I'm withholding something good from him.  Really, my nephew etc live far away, and rarely talk on the phone to ds, but they still do sometimes.  

2 - hide it once we get it and never open the box.  Pro: still no exposure to the game Cons: same as above, except now my son will wonder what happened to the game if nephew mentions it.  Also, he may eventually find it. 

3 - allow ds to open it, and then hide it/disable it.

4 - allow ds to have it, but now show him how to play it, or charge it.  Pro: he gets his gift and hopefully gets bored with it since he won't figure it out, Cons: maybe he would figure it out or a friend would show him.  Pretty risky.  Once he's hooked.

Ds loves games on Starfall / Reading Eggs, but at least the Starfall ones are like subtraction games or multiplication games, and they're self-limiting...plus he's hopefully learning something...although I haven't seen evidence of that yet.  But even last night, he wouldn't leave the Starfall game to come to bed...and ds2 sat next to him mesmerized with what ds1 was doing.  

 

I honestly can't figure out if my sis-in-law is being passive aggressive with this gift or what, but my nephew is just a very generous person, and I wouldn't put it past him to have paid for it out of his own money.  My nephews and niece love my kids and are always trying to buy them stuff; I just wish their mom would have exercised a bit more control here.  Also, we are homeschooling, so there's nothing to prevent ds from playing vid games all day long...except of course my rules....and honestly I just don't feel like we need one more thing to argue about.  

HELP!

post #2 of 9
A gameboy type thing? Do you know specifically what it is? If it's a gameboy or DS or something similar, there is almost nothing you can do with it without games, so he'll lose interest soon enough, and depending on the specifics, the games probably cost a bit of money, so he might never have very many.

We do allow game systems here but the kids aren't very interested in them. I try to woo them away from TV and games rather than making stuff like that off-limits, by having other fun stuff available to do. Or maybe my kids just aren't that into them due to personality.

I wouldn't worry too much about it from the get go. If it's something he was OK with just quickly ordering off the internet with no worry about cost, it might not be something very good that will hold your child's interest anyway.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamazee View Post

A gameboy type thing? Do you know specifically what it is? If it's a gameboy or DS or something similar, there is almost nothing you can do with it without games, so he'll lose interest soon enough, and depending on the specifics, the games probably cost a bit of money, so he might never have very many.
We do allow game systems here but the kids aren't very interested in them. I try to woo them away from TV and games rather than making stuff like that off-limits, by having other fun stuff available to do. Or maybe my kids just aren't that into them due to personality.
I wouldn't worry too much about it from the get go. If it's something he was OK with just quickly ordering off the internet with no worry about cost, it might not be something very good that will hold your child's interest anyway.

I'm curious how do you woo them away?  They have so many toys, but they love watching videos...my 2 year old probably even more than ds1.    We don't have a TV, we use our computers or kindle to show movies/videos, so it's not like they can get into it themselves yet.  But we do find it a struggle especially at bed time, to get them off the computer except by closing the lid. 

I'm not sure what it is that was ordered specifically, but if we have it, I totally see my nephews sending their old video games to my son, or buying him new ones.  And then ds talking to other kids about vid games, comparing notes, wanting the ones they have, etc.  I guess I don't know what can of worms this will open up....that's what I'm afraid of.  Do your kids try to play handhelds at the dinner table?  I can totally see my son wanting to do that.

post #4 of 9
Kids love doing things that are messy, and they love going outside. And doing messy things outside. I think if you want to keep them inside and neat, you will have a hard time wooing them away, but if you're willing to clean up a mess when they're done and/or let them go outside, it isn't that hard.
post #5 of 9

mama honestly you are overthinking this. pardon me for being so harsh.

 

but it seems to me video games get a far worse rap than they are worth it. 

 

first are you sure it was a gameboy or DSi? 

 

i feel a gameboy and starfall is the same thing. they are both teaching your child skills. perhaps many would disagree with this statement, but not everything about video games are bad. the strategies, the hand eye coordination. 

 

you as a parent can restrict his use. maybe in the beginning - the first week - be a little loose. but then restrict him. 

 

doing all the other options - i am sorry are passive aggressive stance. hiding the charger, not buying games. 

 

not all kids are addicted - and YOU as the parent have a huge hand in that. YOU teach them how to play responsibly.

 

really children arent into video games these days just because they want to be. no one wants to do just one thing for hours at a time (a little bit yes) because it gets boring. for many of them its more about what else there is to do. that is the only option they have to entertain themselves. apart from books or tv. 

 

today children have a v. hard life. they dont have the freedom that our generation did. the one key factor that changes everything are friends to play with. you have friends and really you need nothing else. the right kind of friends of course.

 

make sure you have 'activities' planned and other things to do. or restrict the time - and be strict about it. 

 

i have a 10 year old who enjoys video games amongst other things. she has a DSi. and an aunt to 2 boys now 13 and 7 who are video game and online game crazy. our kids hang out v. often. it is amazing to hear the conversation they have amongst themselves. i have to give them sometime to exchange strategies on VG. but after that they are off doing stuff - either cooking dinner, going for a bike ride.

post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamazee View Post

Kids love doing things that are messy, and they love going outside. And doing messy things outside. I think if you want to keep them inside and neat, you will have a hard time wooing them away, but if you're willing to clean up a mess when they're done and/or let them go outside, it isn't that hard.

Ha! Not my kid. HE prefers staying inside and being neat. But we've never had a problem with video "addiction" either. Could be that that is just a difference in semantics. I expect a kid with a new game to want to immerse himself in it. I can see that trying to keep a kid away from a new game can increase his focus on it and prolong that stage. My ds has always gotten his fill of a new game eventually. He was always willing to play actively with other kids instead when they were available. I scheduled things to do out of the house and let ds play on his computer any other time. He didn't get a Nintendo DS until he was 8 but I would have explained to him that it wasn't polite to use something like a NDS when he was in the company of others or during meals, the same way it isn't polite to read a book during those times. Obviously, playdates scheduled for the purpose of gaming together are an exception. 

 

I agree that hiding it or not charging it is a passive aggressive approach. I wouldn't be comfortable doing that. It likely won't be such a big deal unless your ds is picking up on your vibes of not wanting him to use it. That could make him subconsciously fear your placing limits and thus make him try to get all in that he can while he can.

 

It will be self limiting unless your ds has a constant influx of new games. Tell your nephew you want your ds to only have age appropriate educational games if that is how you feel. Kids don't usually pick up on hints and it's best to clearly state things that you feel should be obvious. He sounds like a sweet kid and an important part of your ds's life. 

post #7 of 9

Or, another option that is neither "passive aggressive," nor allows video games in your house: call up the nephew, thank him sincerely for his kindness and generosity, and explain that there must have been some misunderstanding, because video games are not allowed in your home. Ask if the order can still be cancelled and apologize for the trouble. Suggest some alternate gifts that you know your son would just love and that are acceptable to you. Repeat your gratefulness at having such a loving, giving cousin for your sons.

 

If your son needs any explanations, you can simply tell him that, while some parents allow video games, they are not used in this family. If he asks why, tell him some of your objections, but keep it simple and short.

 

I think it's OK to decide what you're going to allow in your house, and I think "because I'm your parent" is also a valuable lesson, as long as it's mixed with straightforwardness and openness. Next time your son visits your cousins, he could try out video games there, and they could be a special treat that he associates with them. (Just like I always indulged in the Lucky Charms cereal my mom would never buy whenever I stayed at my grandma's house!)

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone for your suggestions.  What I decided to do is call my sis-in-law and thank her for the gift, and explain that I felt ds was still a bit young for it, but that I would research the issue closer and give it to him sometime in the future.  I dreaded having to do that, but it went ok, and I feel much better for having dealt with it.  It turned out to be a Nintendo DS and it was from eBay, so not easily returnable.  I will look more into educational type games that would work with the Nintendo DS when I have time, and see if any of those are appropriate for ds.  I personally feel entertainment should not be very "easy" for kids as young as mine, so that their minds can construct their own entertainment, and ds1 is usually really good about doing that, even on very long car trips.  I also have no problem with the kids being exposed to video games at other people's house, but just don't feel like dealing with it at my house yet....I have enough to deal with as it is, and ds has no problems making humongous messes -- I don't even have to invite him to do it.  He loves taking whatever creams, soaps, or anything else he finds in the bathrooms, and spends hours mixing it up with water and seeing what happens...I love that he can do that, although I wish he'd use the cheap Colgate toothpaste instead of the expensive Tooth Builder one for his experiments.  LOL.  

post #9 of 9

Somewhat after the fact, since you've spoken to the giftees, but - we did give dd1 a DS at 6 y/o.  She's actually been most enamored with its ability to make little drawings and turn them into a movie, or record her own voice or take pictures with it.  All things that she'd also be able to do on the computer or with a camera, but are easier for her to access on there.  We've also found a number of scholastic games (like dinosaur ones) and math or reading games are out there, and there were several lists/reviews people have out there on the internet that have really good suggestions for age appropriateness of different games.  

 

I have loose limits, but she most likes to bring her DS in the car or play it before bedtime (which is fine as long as she starts at a certain time and is turning it off on her own, at lights out).  It hasn't become something she's using constantly, or at the dinner table, or etc.  Really, after 3-4 months of having it, she probably only plays it a handful of times a month.  So it's possible to have it and not have it take over what your kid does otherwise.  It is much easier to use on your own if you're a good reader, and that's at least a bit of a challenge for her still - and might be an issue at 5 too, so saving it for a bit isn't a bad idea.

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