Kids are not what they used to be. This can be attributed in part to the boom of technology. When you factor in numerous complex gaming systems, cell phones and text messaging, IM, MySpace, Face Book, chat rooms, Second Life, and IPods just to name a few, how could they?
When I was growing up we didn’t have anything competing for our attention other than the Nintendo. However, I rarely played considering that we did not have one. And it didn’t bother me. I’d have much rather have been playing outside with the kids from the neighborhood enjoying the numerous games we created or reading a book. The Nintendo just didn’t hold my attention or affection for very long.
I am not against owning a game system because we do in fact have a Play Station II. From time to time (maybe twice a year if that) I will sit with them a play for thirty minutes or so. However, I am totally against them playing for hours at a time. Used to my style of authoritative parenting, Nicholas has no problem with this. He is a diverse child with various interests and is comfortable doing many things. My stepsons on the other hand…
Ethan is simply consumed by the Play Station. That’s all he wants to do. If you don’t allow him to play for hours at a time, then he is instantly bored. He has two things that he really enjoys doing. Watching television is second and I’m sure you can guess the first. It’s almost like he is in a trance when playing. I believe it is his attempt to not deal with reality. When immersed in the game he doesn’t recall that his mom is serving time in prison for murder. He doesn’t think about his new living arrangements or the new rules that he must abide by.
I have tried to provide other things for him to do in lieu of playing the PSII but most of the time he is just not interested. He really doesn’t give anything a chance. Or if he does do something else for a while, immediately afterwards he is ready to jump back on the game. Even when it is someone else’s turn to play, sits there and watches and offers commentary. Really, it’s very disturbing to my senses!
My husband pretty much shares my sentiment but I have to say that he is more relaxed about it. He tends to give in when he sees Ethan sitting around tweedling his thumbs because he has nothing to do. During these times I have to remind my husband that he CHOOSES not to do anything. I also point out the many other things that he could be doing. Then I inform my husband that he if his passion is games, that we have over twenty board games in the family room closet. Faced with this logic, my husband usually concurs. Necessity is said to be the mother of invention and if this is true, Boredom must be its father.
At Eliza’s house they were allowed to play with unbridled abandon. There were no rules surrounding the game and had 24-hour access to it. They had a choice of playing any kind of games, even the ones rated M for Mature (blood, gore, and excessive violence). My husband even confirmed this. Not to mention, Ethan has told me many times that they could play “at home” whenever and how ever long they wanted. He incorrectly assumed that if it was okay with Eliza, then it should be okay with us.
When Eliza initially went to prison to entice them to visit her, she would tell them that they had a Play Station II in the visiting area. This instantly intrigued them. Most of the conversations she had with them pertained to some aspect of electronic games. She asked them if they had got to play the system that particular day, what new games they wanted, and how she was going to get them the latest game system when she came home. That was the topic for 95% of their conversations with her.
When I explained to her that we were trying to get them to develop interests outside of this venue, she immediately got defensive. She claimed that she did not encourage them to play the PSII and actually did not allow them to play on school nights. I remained silent because I knew that she was not telling the truth. I knew that she used the PSII as a babysitter when she was too busy doing other things.
I have to admit that it does take a lot of energy, time, and creativity to keep him away from the flame. And sometimes it is easier just to give in. But I won’t and am willing to risk being the bad guy to do so. I just refuse to let him or Evan spend their fleeting youth dwelling in the wastelands.
I can say that Evan isn’t AS obsessed with the playing part. Sometimes he is content to sit and watch Ethan play. I think this stems from that fact that being the youngest he often had to wait to play at the mercy of his older brothers. They hogged the game and rarely allowed him to do so.
I allow the kids to play on the system for one hour a day, every other day. That is reasonable to me. I wouldn’t allow them to do any one thing ALL day long, so I don’t see why the PSII should be the exception.