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