Like many parents, I have found myself telling my 16 year old to shut down his computer and not spend too much time playing his “damn” video games – especially when he isn’t getting stellar grades in school. Actually, I should correct myself, my son does not play video games, he plays a video game, – League of Legends. I often prefer he be playing baseball in the park but I have very little influence on this. And by looking at the parks around my neighborhood, neither do many other parents – the parks are empty!
I think I am speaking for most of us when I state that as parents we want our children to be socializing with their friends, right! We want them running and moving around outside, together, and understanding real social relationships, right!! We do not want them glued to a screen for hours on end, by themselves, looking like anti-social hermits, right!!!
Well, although I want my son to be “outside” with his friends, I have come to the realization that the fact that he plays this video game in his bedroom has actually allowed me to be involved in his socialization process more than if he were in a park. It has also (and oddly) been a point of reference for us to talk about personal and interpersonal issues along with complex group dynamics issues – something I feel we could never have done if he were in the park with his friends giving each other purple-nurples!
Here are some of the very real subjects this game has allowed us to discuss.
- teamwork, strategy, and knowing your role on a team to achieve success.
- communication with teammates, opponents, and friends.
- self-control and making the right decisions even in moments of stress.
- dealing with non-cooperative individuals and dysfunctional groups.
- understanding triggers for anxiety and anger.
- making the best of a sometimes not so good situation.
All good life skills and lessons right?!!… oh yeah, and it’s showed him how to use Skype for group calls!! lol!
A few months ago I even had a discussion with him about this video game that allowed me to draw parallels to some of his poor exam performance at school. Parallels that have allowed me to talk to him about real ways to help him do better on school tests. A discussion that will, in the future, allow him to better deal with mental traps which he creates for himself.
I’m lucky. I’ve infiltrated the teenage bubble. I’ve found a way, through his video game, to have very meaningful discussions with my son. And although I have this deeply entrenched feeling that he would be better off playing baseball with neighborhood kids after school, I understand that those are not the only ways to learn, interact and socialize.
– Alex Vinetti
I’m right there with you.
Pretty pathetic… sounds like this dad is having to go through major contortions to excuse away his son’s anti-social behavior (and his own guilt in allowing it). Hey, you’re the parent — pull the plug on the damned computer, and get your son out and about. Arrange things at these empty parks you speak of for him and his friends. Or just gently “kick” him out of the house for a time every day, and let him use (and build) his imagination on keeping himself entertained. But simply joining in on your son’s anti-social activities and acting like you deserve plaudits for it is the ultimate “cop-out”. Sorry, but being outdoors, active, and engaged with friends is always preferable to sitting at a computer screen all day fiddling with a video game. We’re producing another generation of overweight, underactive, socially backward kids, and all due to the “modern babysitter” — electronic contraptions. Yeah, in the 1960s my brother, sister, and I, and our friends, certainly did our share of TV watching. But that was about it for sitting like a slug on the couch, especially weekends and summer days, which we “lived for”! We may have watched the Saturday morning lineup of cartoons, but after that, we’d likely be out and about all rest of the day, and into the evening. Then again after church, all day Sunday. Going up to the local business district, to the park, exploring the neighborhood, or just bumming around. Walking, running, bikes, pitching baseballs, playing catch with footballs, shooting hoops… out in the fresh air and sunshine. That’s what being a kid was — seeking fun (and yes, on occasion, a bit of mischief). Incidentally (though we weren’t aware of it) we were also learning socialization skills, about the big world outside the walls of our homes, and about life, to boot!).