Sunday, January 13, 2008

Electronics and Kids…beneficial, evil, somewhere in between?

My 8th-grade son is going to a LAN Party today (parent supervised). Watching him play Guitar Hero this morning, reinforced my nighttime reverie.

I have friends who refuse to let their children play video and computer games, because our generation was outside, running free during our youth.

That’s true; my mom never knew where we were or what we were doing. We were tanned and lean from outside play and made a life-long pact that what happened outside, stayed outside.

Now parents worry about the time kids spend playing electronic devices. I agree there are limits to set, rules to follow, but I also see benefits.

My neighbors and I encourage the kids to be outside during nice weather--they rotate from yard to yard playing basketball, Mafia, Ghost in the Graveyard, skateboarding, and riding bikes. I see them whenever I look out the window—a benefit and byproduct of a world less safe than my childhood haven.

The kids also rotate through each other’s houses, although my house is a major attraction. The computer is in my kitchen, the video games in the family room. Initially, this was an issue for kids used to computers, etc., in their bedrooms, but no one minds anymore, and I give them their space.

I like having them here—I know where my kids are, I know their friends. They spend hours setting up elaborate competitions on Guitar Hero and other games. They laugh, compete, discuss strategy and empty my snack cupboard. Sometimes they surprise me and stop electronics for a game of cards, Risk, or chess.

Every generation is fearful regarding younger generations, because the world changes so quickly. It’s natural for my generation to worry about electronics controlling our kids’ minds, altering their morals.

For my parents' generation, it was drug usage—the 60s made a lasting impression. So did the 70s, 80s, get my point. If I complain about someone’s anti-establishment behavior, my parents nod knowingly and say, “It’s the drugs.”

Personally, I don’t think electronics in and of themselves are the problem—I think lack of supervision and close relationships with children are.

But who knows what the future holds? Someday, when my son complains to me of another’s anti-establishment behavior, I may nod wisely, sigh with regret and say, “it’s the electronics.”


Parenting PEA said...

My $.02 on electronics.

Parents need to stay involved with their kids but for some reason, many tune-out when there's a computer or game console involved. Bad idea. Stay involved.

At my household, we are big gamers. And we watch TV. BUT, we only have multiplayer games and the television is positioned so we either all watch it or none.

We think electronics are great. In fact, our piano has a headset. Otherwise, when someone practiced, nobody else could do anything.

Reverie said...

Thanks for your comment. Parents do need to stay involved--sounds like you've found balance and harmony (with a headset) regarding electronics!