I was checking for a reply from one of the Game Masters to an incident I reported in-game for 5 mins when I got home from work and my son jumped on my lap to bash the keyboard. "That's so cute", I thought and snapped a picture. Before logging out and giving him supper and a bath.
I was not prepared for the heated debate that came from such an innocent picture: allowing your children to play video games. Some were smart enough to realise that a 1-year-old does not have the mental capacity to be playing online games. Many shared stories of how their older kids played with them and explained that there was a balance in their lives between online and offline play - both physical outdoor and indoor games like puzzles. One mom commented: "My son will only play for 5 minutes after he has woken up after his nap if we have been playing. I really don't see anything wrong with it. He does not watch TV. Plays outside everyday. He goes to swimming soccer and Jr jive. My child has a very balanced life."
And then others went on a tangent about how you shouldn't expose your child to any screen at all: "I'm so not letting my kids play games. I want them to play outside. Ride bikes play sports! Be active and not fall into the American stereotype. In retail you see all sorts of people and seeing very obese kids is so depressing. Encourage healthy choices and reading."I'm all for reading, I've even started my son's book collection already even though his only interest in books is tearing the pages. But I'm sorry, expecting your child to not have any screen time in a world so entrenched in technology is just a little unrealistic don't you think? You'd have to move to a jungle to avoid any technology, we all have TVs, PCs, smartphones and tablets. Your child is going to be exposed it, but it's your duty as a parent to limit and police that time for your kids. That's not to say your kids should have unlimited access to it all, that's just crazy talk.
Some people pointed out how it was hypocritical to play games as an adult then say that your child will have zero screen time and only ever play outside. It's the whole "Do as I say and not as I do" mindset, it's so archaic. Children learn from their parents actions, you're their role models. And if you enjoy gaming, you should create an environment where they can play age-appropriate games (Call of Duty is NOT age appropriate) but you're the adult, so you need so ensure that they do have some physical activity in their lives too. Life is all about balance.
As a gamer I believe gaming teaches kids problem solving and creativity, in her research paper titled "Children's Motivations for Video Game Play in the Context of Normal Development", Cheryl Olson says: "Video games can help children's brain development. When my son was a young adolescent, I watched him play Legend of Zelda games. He had to search, negotiate, plan, and try different approaches to advance. Video games don't have to be labelled "educational" to help children learn to make decisions, use strategies, anticipate consequences and express their personalities."
So I'd love my kids to enjoy gaming, but there's going to be strict rules in place. I don't want a kid that's permanently attached to a phone or tablet. And I'm obviously not allowing my one-year-old to play video games, he's far too interested in the cardboard box he's very expensive toy came in.
The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.
Are you a gamer? What's your view on kids and video games?