Are you an involved hands on parent wrestling with what to do about games?
Lets break this question into a few points:
1. Hands on - Are you?
2. What does this mean in terms of video games?
Hands on - Are you? For instance:
- Do you watch your kids at the playground and push them on the swings?
- Do you watch and cheer at their soccer or Little League games?
- Do you play catch with them and read with them?
Do you get to know their friends?
- Do you attend back-to-school night and get to know the teachers and school? Ö.
If you do, you are an involved hands-on parent. And the chances are that if you are reading this articles, you are a parent with some questions about how best to parent when faced with children involved in video games.....
BUT, what happens when the kids start playing video games?
- Do you feel that the games don't interest so you totally turn off?
- Do you resent that you your children have this passion for video games?
- Whats your reaction to when they turn on the game box?
Hereís an alternative idea which is how we handle it in my home.
We only have one television and it is in common space.
We have game machines hooked up to the television. But, we have rules.
We only play games (or watch TV) as a family or in groups, we donít allow kids to watch TV or play by themselves.
As part of this, we only buy games that are fun to play with multiple players, we donít allow any into the house which are single player games.
What are our favorite games? We play Mario Party, many versions of version of Bomberman. (OK, we're in a bit of retro gaming phase but I'm planning to get the latest Nintendo this spring), lots of different race games, and a Nintendo multiplayer "fight" game..
We absolutely refuse to have a DS or Game Boy (ie a portable one-person game player although admittedly, mulitplayer configurations are possible). It is a particularly isolating piece of technology in that there's no real opportunity for a group to watch and mostly, the games are single player affairs. These portable game machines cut into family time in the car and it's hard to come up with easy rules so that their addictive properties don't become a head-t-head fight with the parents.
Going beyond the question of selecting video games and platforms, there's the question of how to get hands on...
Celebrate achievements! They're real
Learn to play! But realistically, pick the games carefully. Few of our generation will ever learn to play the basketball or soccer or hockey games. The non-stop free-form action is just too hard for anyone who tries to pick this up after tha ge of 30. But, the football and baseball games are different, they are very accessible to elder players