Do you know what today is? It
is National Video Game Day. Do you game? Do your children or grandchildren?
Does your spouse?
Thankfully, none of our four children ever gamed much. This was strategic on our part. I saw my older friends happily embrace the whole fairly new video game culture and it terrified me. The last thing I wanted was for our children to be in front of the television with their controllers for hours on end. Even back then I worried about the effects on their brains with all of that screen activity. Instead, we wanted them to be outside as much as possible, running around and playing like we did when we were children.
Our tactics included never buying any new gaming system —never mind we often couldn’t afford such an extravagant gift —the systems were sometimes as much as $1,000 and the games were between $50 and $100 or more. Instead, when our oldest began begging for a system — he played when he was at the home of one of his friends — we suggested he save his money and buy a used system.
We were a bit surprised when he did just that. He bought an older Nintendo system a few years after the newer one had already come out. I think it was $50. Of course the games were still on the pricey side. Over the years, he did upgrade his system a few times, always buying a used system. Our daughters never really cared about it and even our youngest seemed to prefer computer games — which at the time were not very sophisticated and usually based on a cartoon television show he liked.
Did you know that some studies say that children who are between the ages of 8 and 18 spend more than nine hours a day with screen time? That includes cell phones, computers, and of course, video games.
Experts are now beginning to recognize there are potential dangers to those who are addicted to video games. Several researchers say there is no way we can know how many American children are addicted to video games, but the number could be as high as 5 percent. That may not sound like too many, but that is still so many children.
Have you heard of a video game called Fortnite? The game first came out in 2017 and gained more than 125 million players in less than a year. Many are calling it a cultural phenomenon.
The graphics are incredible and the game really draws participants in. Someone described it to me as sort of “Hunger Games” type game. So, I guess that means a lot of killing. With so many of these games, there is also a huge online community — gamers connect with people from all over the world.
Like most things, everything in moderation, right? While violent video games are disturbing to me, if you do allow your child to play them, please make sure they are not playing them for hours on end. I recommend playing games with them so you get the full picture of the game and what it entails.
Technology is an amazing thing, but as parents, we have to be diligent about protecting our children. As always, I love hearing from readers about their experiences. Please feel free to email me.