Finding the Balance with Video Games


Anyone who knows me knows that I have a love/hate relationship with television and video games. On the one hand, I got through most of my childhood dependent on the make believe worlds that TV and video games offered me. I found a lot of joy and comfort in the ability to disconnect from reality and live vicariously through fictitious means for a bit.

As a mother, I don’t really want my children to have those associations or dependencies. Nor do I want them to lose sight of reality. I want them to embrace the outdoors and the beauty that is their life. I want them to live so fully and happily that they want for nothing.

So finding that healthy median for video games has been challenging.

I know video games are fun. I know that a lot of learning can occur from them, and I can also appreciate that not every moment of my children’s lives needs to be a “learning moment.” They can benefit from video games. Hand eye coordination. Strategic thinking. It’s even helped Miss H with her reading.

And who doesn’t just need some time to unwind? To do something they enjoy with no hindrances? J and I watch TV most nights because we both need that ability to zone out together for a bit.

I also don’t want Miss H and Mr. B to miss out on playing outdoors; sunbathing and splashing in puddles and collecting grub worms and picking dandelions and making snowmen. I don’t want them to be all-consumed with an electronic device that they miss out on the every day beauty around them.

I originally thought the solution was to simply disallow video games. If they didn’t exist within our home, then it would be a moot point.

I quickly learned that simply exacerbated the situation. It was all-consuming for Mr. B. He would beg daily to go to Target or Game Stop just so he could play the demos and look each video game over with careful deliberation. If we did go, he’d never want to leave. If we didn’t go, he’d cry for what seemed like forever. And let’s be honest, I couldn’t avoid Target forever. I’m a millennial. It’s a need to wear my leggings and buy a latte and browse through that store.

So J and I caved and bought them Nintendo DS2s for Easter; not entirely sure where we were going with it. We tried a lot of different things out. Allowing them unlimited play. Limiting them to an hour a day. Limiting it to certain days of the week. Only letting them play when x things were accomplished. Etc., etc.

But finally, I think we have come to our best compromise.

The car.

Since we travel a lot, keeping them occupied is vital. For me. My sanity. My ability to parent them as peacefully and gently as I desire. It requires a minimal amount of screaming “He’s touching me!” or “She’s looking at me!” when we’re in the car for 12 hours.

Or even just one hour.

So now their DS’s remain in their cases, car-ready for any trips that will take more than 30 minutes.

It’s squelched them asking a million times a day if they can play their video games. I no longer nag them to get off in a timely manner and do something else. There are no unknowns for them. They know exactly when they can utilize them, so they’re able to fully enjoy a video game-free life outside of the vehicle, and when they’re in the car, they can be as engrossed in them as they wish.

It’s probably not always going to be the solution. I’m sure things may change some day. Perhaps if we suddenly stop being on the road as frequently. But until then. This works.

How about you? Do you limit your kiddos video game usage? What works for your family? I’d love to hear!

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