Thursday, April 12, 2012

My Video Game Debate -- err ... Opinion

My husband decided that getting our (just turned) 4-year-old a couple video games this past Christmas as well as a Nintendo DS would be a good idea.  I agreed with the DS as it would be a helpful babysitter during our roadtrips and stop at least a dozen "are we there yets".  Cash loved the the LeapFrog clicky game thingy that came with the pencil and he was actually quite good at it.  However, my husband also decided that our extremely imaginative and creative and smart 4-year-old was also old enough for games for the Playstation as well.  I had a hard time with this.  My JUST TURNED 4-year-old is still a sponge and still learning things and is still so innocent and playful.  I wasn't quite sure whether I was quite ready to let the video games into his life.  But for some reason ... I agreed.  So Cale said the Star Wars Lego game for the PS3 would be a good one.  Instead of blood and guts when somebody gets hurt - it just breaks the lego pieces apart and nobody ever "dies" or "gets killed".  But I couldn't help but still have this negative feeling towards it.

Video games have been around for 30+ years.  They've changed drastically and definitely have improved over the past couple of years.  Yet one thing remains the same, the impact of video games has both a positive AND a negative response.  And my response leans more towards the negative.

Obviously the positive is the fact that video games may help improve the child's hand-eye coordination, fine motor and spatial skills.  It can also very well "teach" problem solving and logic as well as following instructions.  I know there are parts of Cash's video game where he has to watch a clip on the screen and push buttons at the same time - which helps teach multitasking  and quick actions.  When my little brother was learning to read, he was so desperate to understand the instructions on the screen that he taught himself to read.  Video games can help the child understand teamwork and cooperation as well as reasoned judgements and memorization.

/\ /\  That's a pretty good sized list.

Lately my husband and I have noticed that our son has changed since he started playing video games.  We could blame it on the neighbor's kids - but it started before she became my angel and started babysitting Cash and Chris.
Lately we have noticed that Cash has not been paying attention at all.  And yes this could partly be due to him being a typical 4-year-old.  But I can't help but think that part of the reason is video games.  Cash doesn't play with his toys anymore.  He used to play with Spiderman, Hulk, Ironman, and the rest of the gang everyday.  He used to want to build forts in his bedroom and pretend like we were at the Haunted Mansion in Disney World.  He used to dress up in his Buzz or Woody costume and I had to be Bo Peep or Jesse or Mrs Potato Head.  But now ... now he just acts like he is in lala land.  Cale and I have to repeat everything we say to him at least twice.  Not because he can't hear, but because he just can't pay attention.  In soccer, he's the one standing when the coach and everyone else are sitting.  He's the one standing in the field facing the wrong direction.  He's the one that watches the ball as it goes right past him.  It's not until the ball accidentally bumps him that he wakes up and remembers what's going on.  And I can't remember the last conversation I had with Cash that didn't involve a character from his video game or something that happened while he was playing.

Obviously I haven't noticed violent behavior.  And he's definitely not gaining weight.
But he is losing his imagination.  His creativity.  And his playfulness.

So Cale and I decided that until he can learn to balance video games ... and everything else ... we are going to have to take the video games away.  And now I'm the "meanest Mommy EVER". Muahahaha!!!!

Then again:  I now know why Cale asked for video games for Cash for Christmas .... he wanted someone to play them with.  Just like he has since the day Cash was born....


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