Sunday, July 16, 2006

Nintendo, Computer Games, and the like...Comments Please!

Perhaps you can help me with this...

My son loves computer games. He also loves playing Nintendo at friends' houses on rainy days. He loves anything computers and the like--but it stands to do his dad and I. My struggle is the balance issue. I read unschoolers who say that if their child wants / needs to spend two days conquering a game on their game cube, so be it--it will pass and he will move on to something else soon. Other homeschoolers are opposed to anything that doesn't involve gardening, playing outside and interacting with books and nature.

This morning as I played with my boy and started tickling and rough-housing with him, his ribs were poking out all over the place and I was impressed with his five-year-old muscles. He's a miniature man, in love with playing outside, sword fighting, playing make-believe, and climbing trees. He eats very well, is passionate about taking his vitamins, and knows that drinking lots of water is important for staying healthy.

Then why do I feel guilty for even entertaining the idea of a Nintendo for him for Christmas?

All comments are welcome! What do you think?


  1. Hey Kelly--
    My passionate for technology son is 8 so I've been wrestling with this for a few years.
    First, I say put off the non-educational computer games as long as possible. There are so many great ones that are so valuable. Like Fritz and Chester Learn Chess, all the Jump Start stuff and I Spy, to name a few. Plus you can use the hardware you have for many, many games, which can be inexpensively obtained on ebay!
    If and when you do buy a Nintendo, make a natural boundary. We bought our son a game-boy--with the understanding that it lives in the car. It is for only in the car, ever. This makes the boys happy to ride for hours in the car and makes it unnecessary to enforce time limits. For in the house we use "technology tickets". Doing a "big chore" earns a 30 minute ticket, which can be used to pay for time on the computer or for watching TV. It applies at other peoples' homes too so if we are going somewhere with exciting technology the boys ask what they can do to earn tickets. That just leaves me the difficulty of finding more chores for them to do.

  2. I was a terrible book worm as a child, often "disappearing" into books for a week at a time. (I still try to do it as an adult but it's harder to get the freedom to immerse myself). I have also gone on binges where different "virtual worlds" took over my life: games (zork from long ago), soccer (from about age 14-22), and so on.

    So long as he lives in an unstructured environment and his overall balance (over months) of time spent is reasonably healthy, I think letting him indulge in binges is great. Better yet, do it with him.

    But I'm at unschooler at heart (now that I've learned the concept) who leads a more structured life than I truly believe in.

    Your blog is interesting, good reading.


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