Tuesday, February 19, 2013

For The Love of the Video Game

I have a confession to make - I am a woman and I enjoy video games.  Yes, it's true and I am not ashamed!  I grew up playing on Atari and Nintendo systems.  Now, thanks to the hubs, I have moved on to bigger and better systems like XBox 360, Playstation 3 and the Wii.  In fact, just a few weeks ago we were pulverizing each other in the latest version of Mortal Kombat and causing complete chaos in an old 360 game called Burnout - it's the safest format of road rage you'll ever encounter!  So, it stands to reason that I wholeheartedly support children playing video games.  I know a lot of people think that this leads to kids being obese and lazy, but as long as there is moderation (like with everything else in life) I say, let them play!  In my opinion, video games are fun and really can serve a good purpose in your child's life. 

Aside from educational value, video games are great for "rainy day" entertainment.  The Wii has literally saved my sanity on more than one occasion!  Since their toddler stage, the twinks have proven that they will become little tasmanian devils if they don't have some form of physical activity.  HALLELUJAH! for the Wii and all their sports and playground themed games!!  From golfing to dodgeball, the twinks can be thoroughly entertained for the full 1 - 1 1/2 hours they're allowed to play.  As an added bonus, the only drink they request while playing is water! Yes, WATER!!!  I don't know too many 6 years old that willing seek this out on their own, so I definitely consider this to be an added bonus! 

In addition to the active (physical) games, there are some great benefits to games that are simply played for the fun of gaming.  For instance, my little Mini Me has been developing her fashion design skills on her Nintendo 3DSXL with a Bratz video game that allows her to create outfits and sell them in her own boutique!  This has led to her expressing herself more creatively in paper drawings by using more colors, creating patterns and even illustrating action scenes (ever seen a bunny jumping out of a tree?! I have now!) I know you're probably thinking "Big deal - the kid is drawing more" but when you consider that she used to struggle with even making simple stick figures, this is a big deal!  As for my son, if he's not saving the world as one of his favorite super heroes,  then he's playing a key position on one of his favorite sports teams (mainly the Washington Redskins or the Capitals!)  What I've noticed with both of them is that aside from enhancing their hand-eye coordination and critical thinking skills (yes, even video game football requires critical thinking), the completion of goals and winning trophies in these "just for fun" games has increased my children's confidence.  Sure, it's a bit superficial, but to be honest, I don't care - my children enjoy feeling a sense of accomplishment and I enjoy celebrating their virtual victories!  

Which brings me to the last and most important point I'd like to make today - playing video games is a great opportunity for parents to bond with their children.  What's that?  You don't have time for video games? Oh, they aren't your "thing"?  Well, whether we want them to be or not, video games are very much a part of the 21st Century child's life.  Why not take the time to explore them with your child, instead of allowing someone else to do it for you?  Trust me, it will happen - whether at a play date or a family gathering, your child will discover the art of gaming.  Instead of dreading it, think of it as your chance to show your kids that they can have fun with you, too - you're not just a disciplinarian, who makes and enforces rules ALL the time.  Furthermore, you can teach your child the very valuable lesson of how not to be a sore loser or an ungracious winner.  I think we all can agree that this is a lesson that is better learned in the safety of your home than on the sometimes cruel school playground. 

Now, of course, I am speaking strictly from my own experiences.  Will you and your child's experience be the same as mine? Maybe...maybe not, but you won't know until you've tried.  Also, I'm not saying that there shouldn't be any rules about playing either.  The twinks game playing is mostly reserved for weekends and holidays.  If they are allowed to play during the week, they must first earn the privilege by doing reading or writing homework that I assign to them and to the level of my expectations (which are higher than their teacher's.)  And, please, make sure that your children are only playing the games that are appropriate for their age group.  No matter how much they think they can handle it, NO toddler or kindergartner should be given a Resident Evil or Call of Duty type game.  So, now that I've shared my point of view, let's hear yours....

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