the love/hate of video games

I should probably be very clear here, I have no love of video games. The boys in my household, however, seem to enjoy them quite a bit. The smaller two could probably play for an entire unblinking day, stopping only for completely necessary bathroom breaks and food intakes.

Over the years I have tried several ways to minimize the video game playing. Two years ago it was reading time = video game time, so the more they read the more they could play. When Milo started to rack up more book minutes than could humanly be used for video games I had to rethink my strategy. Last school year we upgraded to points for playing time. Homework, reading and chores all got a point that could either be traded for cash or video game time. This year, since both the boys come home before us, the rule has been simplified: no video games until homework is done (with an added stipulation that current grades must also be of acceptable levels). Between higher homework levels and busy weekends, video games have recently been curtailed a bit.

But really what is it about video games that I dislike so much? I know for a fact you blink less looking at a computer (as my eye doctor always tells me I need to take breaks at work). But beyond that there are so many things I feel like they could be doing. Reading their National Geographic magazine, tinkering with the soldering kits, being crafty, cleaning the apartment, learning a language…the possibilities are endless!

On the other hand, sometimes I look at what they’re playing and wonder if I’m being a good or bad mom in rationalizing some of their games. (Like those times when we were little and my mom would say playing Nintendo gave us good hand-eye coordination.)

Mason and Milo mostly play Minecraft and Terraria. Two days ago I was watching this video with Milo and he started talking about mycelium even before the video did. Being the trivia-filled child that he is, I thought it no surprise he already knew this. But when I congratulated him on knowing it he responded, “In Terraria you can grow mushrooms and you have to start with mycelium.” So maybe the video game has some useful aspects? After all, Minecraft has been described as a digital version of Legos–and everyone loves to tout Legos as a brainy-child toy.

Then there’s this. A note that was synced from Milo’s iPod to my email inbox…

milo's clash of clans to-do list

He’s making to-do lists, setting goals and budgeting costs. I’m definitely on the fence about the benefits of this, since he also tries to stare at this game while brushing his teeth in the morning (apparently he gains something from having the app running). I will say though, the comedic value of finding this to-do list in my inbox was pretty good.

I guess for better or worse, I have to live with the boys always wanting to play video games. So I may as well find some positives. No time to sweat the small stuff, right? After all, we all have our little addictions (*cough, cough, crush)…


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