Let's Leave The Game Consoles At Home, M'kay?

Man, I love video games. They're great. But sometimes, they're totally unnecessary.

Yesterday was Children's Day in Japan. The family and I packed up our stuff and headed to the Expo Commemoration Park. It's where the 1970 World's Fair was held and is now a very green and a beautiful place to play frisbee or soccer or have a picnic.

There were tons of families doing that, enjoying the summer-like weather.

One thing I didn't quite get (and I say this as a gamer!) was that there were a small percentage of kids sitting on picnic mats and playing their Nintendo DS or Sony PSP. (Nothing as extreme as this, however) It was somewhat depressing — not so much that they were gaming, but that they were in a location in which they could run around and exercise. Yet, they weren't.

The equivalent would be someone walking into a fantastic arcade like Taito Hey in Akihabara and instead of playing any games, just sit there and flip through a magazine. It's someone not taking advantage of what's available to them that bothers me the most.

And I guess playing a video game outside is a bit like reading a book outside and a way to enjoy an enjoyable activity outdoors. But, you can always read a book on the sofa at home. You can't play soccer, though.


Comments

    Very much this. Sometimes mein bestie boggles my mind by wanting to play his handhelds when we're only going for a short drive or something. Or when we went camping.... Not that they're not meant to be employed in the field, but still...

    I agree. It could be bad parenting? But yeh kids need to be spending just as much time exercising and playing sport as they do gaming. Not even that, but atleast an hour or two a day outside.

      Im a parent and I completely agree. My 6 year old constantly argues with me that he should be able to take his DS with him wherever he goes. I restrict him severely on this, as just because its portable it doesn't mean it SHOULD go everywhere.

      He gets his exercise, he gets his gaming time, and sometimes we mix both of them with things like the Wii Fit etc etc.

      But there's still no way a videogame can match the fun of getting a group of friends together and having a great game of soccer outdoors :)

        Sorry but while you are busy driving the car listening to the music/talkback radio you want, watching the world go by as a young kid can be as boring as bat-shit.
        Oh and waiting with you standing in line or walking around a supermarket getting food that is of no interest to a 6 year old that too.

        Maybe remember what it was like being a kid following your parents around a dept store (in this day and age you can't let your kids wander the toy aisles for fear of snatchers or worse twice my wife in Target has had some asian try to walk off with our kids and one of those was when my son was no more than 3 feet away in the same aisle), or even the car-ride (long or short) to get to a meet up with friends etc. Certainly once you are at the destination its a basis by basis decision on whether the DS comes with you or gets put in the glovebox for security reasons.

        But if you are too busy concentrating driving in traffic to make the journey at least bearable for junior in the back seat then give a thought to how much fun he is having listening and observing your growing frustration at the numbnuts around you. All the while not sure if it himself that is the cause of why Dad/Mum is upset.

        Our adult lives, duties and responsibilities to a kid can be incredibly boring especially as they have no real understanding of what it is to be an adult.

        A novel idea maybe ask why is it that they want to take the DS with them, maybe they dont like the friends that YOU have picked out for them to play with.

        Besides there are more important arguments to win in a childs later years, than tightening down their freedom to play so much that they feel they need to rebel no matter how much sense you make over the types of friends they keep.

        If you try to win every single argument, they will eventually learn to never communicate with you especially when it counts.

    I couldn't agree more with Brian on this matter.

    I've always enjoyed playing games, and reflecting over the past few years, I've noticed a number of times where I'm in exactly the same situation as those kids mentioned above.

    There's this fantastic camping spot at Myall Lakes in NSW where we go at least once a year. The only way to get there is by boat right across the lakes, so generally it's really quiet and serene. Really a beautiful spot.

    And thinking back, I feel I spent a little too much time sitting under the canvas with my PSP in hand. Obviously when you have all day going swimming and hiking for 5 days straight, there'll be times when you just wanna sit back and read or play a game; but still...

    Being 17, I haven't got kids of my own, thankfully. But even now I feel that should I ever have kids, I'll be a little more careful with how they're introduced to video games. Not so much banning them from playing too much, but instead simply giving them more opportunity to find and retain interest in other things. I used to play soccer with a club when I was 6 or 7; now I'm scared to even touch a soccer ball for few of embarrasing myself. I don't want that to happen to my kids.

    Bah, how I've rattled on.

      Sorry, that should be 'for "fear" of embarrasing myself' >_>

    At least they're getting fresh air, right?

    Then again this is Japan - i don't know if it has much fresh air left in the Land of Pollution.

    Isn't that the whole point of portable gaming?

    I mean it could be a lot worse, at least the kids are getting out of the house and into the sun.

    IMO and experience you guys have it all wrong.

    I am a gamer and in my household of 2 adults and 3 kids. Boy aged 10, girls aged 8 and 5 there is a PSX, PS2, 2xPS3s (my fat and sons slim), PSP, Wii (+4 controllers its the one electronic thing that is designated as a family toy) 4 DS-lites, Gameboy Advance. Oh and 1 Laptop for when the mrs has to retire to bed due to 3 prolapsed discs, 4 Desktops and XP media centre based PC in the lounge and finally a File/GameServer/Encoding rig.

    My eldest got his first handheld when he was 4/5 and a hand-me-down PC shortly afterwards. He has always loved his AFL and anything else involving a ball outside, played Auskick from prep til joined local junior footy club, played 3 years now for the local Avondale Heights football club of which his first yr U10s won a premiership. Trains 1-1.5hrs 2 nights a week and plays Sundays.

    He often kicks ass on TF2 his current flavour online or COD4 MW at the lan we both attend once a month.

    My oldest girl wishes to do Tennis starting this year.

    The youngest still finding her sports tendencies, but loves outdoor play almost as much as painting.

    They all do once a week swimming lessons for .5hr with minimum extra .5hr play as youngest and 2oldest lessons are offset atm.

    They all play their DS/Computers get homework done when needed and play outside on a regular basis, read books, colour in, type nonsense in wordpad pretending to write novels, play child friendly browser based games, even without daylight savings and it turning cold and crappy they still want to head outside for some trampoline time or kicking the footy with Dad a literal 30 sec walk away at the park.

    1st mistake everyone here made is assuming that any sort of Technology interaction is a treat.

    It should never be a treat to spend time on a computer or in front of consoles. Not only are you disadvantaging your child against others who are much more liberal and logical when it comes to raising kids but reinforcing that technology is a rarely to be touched medium. How is that even fair considering the world we live in, or for work let alone programming the IQ/media center/set-top box to record their favourite show? The sooner they get exposed to a mouse in their hand the better (for 4 year olds nothing beats a small usb travelmouse)

    When my son was learning to read in prep/grade 1, the best thing that encouraged him to keep learning to read was a Harry Potter game on his Gameboy advance. He wanted to play the game successfully and the only way he could do that was to learn and work out the text on the screen.

    I was the same at his age, I had a 12 year old reading ability at 6 because I wanted to know what was coming up on TV and they only way was to read the Green Guide, and my parents got tired of reading it out to me.

    My kids have never once been told to get off the computer/console/handheld to go outside for some sun or anything else because they have sat there for 4-6hrs in a row. Thats because they just dont spend that sort of time in front of a screen. They like most children when given the chance will get bored and move onto the next thing to entertain themselves. In fact they often come to me to ask for some sort of outside activity/fun.

    My main argument is this if you give ice cream for a treat how often does the kid pester you for it or any other sweet lolly that is only good for their body in small doses.
    If they have access to fruit and healthy snacks 24x7 how often do they choose those to eat? Actually actively choose to seek out? Not very often but if its there and within easy reach they will once in a while go for it.

    Games and the option to play them should be within easy access as would a story book off the shelf.
    It's the forbidden apple syndrome, you want what you cant have and will always gorge yourself stupid when finally you can have it. Make it a staple diet and you will find you won't have to monitor how long they have sat there.

    We don't have to control their very existence because of some way out there unfounded fears of "experts". Each child is different yes but all will succumb to a routine set by their peers and when things aren't so forbidden the lustre and gleam fades.

    The only major rule for the kids in my household is "Work before play." I am no hard task master. In fact I would rather my children had no homework at all from the primary school they attend but they do it diligently and a little each night makes it a lot easier for them to not only get it completed but allows them more time each night and weekends to be kids. In whatever form they choose.

    They will let you know when they can no longer find something to interest them. Even with a household full of things to do electronic or otherwise and the choices to have fun at the park they can still be "bored", especially after 6 weeks of holidays over the major break hehehehe.

    Thats my 2cs. As I said it is all based on my own experience as a parent and gamer.

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