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Why it’s bad to say video games are…well, bad.

March 20, 2012

I have been forced to stay home for almost 3 weeks now due to an injury and have been inundated with plenty of commercials and advertising geared towards stay at home moms, unemployed high school grads, retirees, and other people who would be home at 11am on weekday.  I have also been able to watch the morning news more often than normal and one PSA they show every morning in an attempt to get parent’s attention is about how kids are staying inside more to play video games and go on the internet as oppose to playing sports, after school programs, and other ‘social’ activities.  I have a beef with this.  Now while I agree it is not healthy for kids to sit in front of the computer for hours on end with no monitoring but it is probably as unhealthy to force them to participate in activities that 1) they might not like 2) they may not be good at and most importantly 3) Activities that 1+2 might actually lead to them being bullying.  What usually happens to the kid that’s “no good at something”?  Name calling, teasing, put downs, those certainly can’t be good for development.

I would say that growing up I was more of the “in front of the computer” type as oppose to the after school program type.  Any program that would have kept me in school would always feel like more school to me.  I did not have many “play” dates…when I wanted to meet with friends I rode my bike over to their house and we played some outside, went to the local pond, but what did we usually do, play video games together.

I remember WISHING their was a service that would allow me to play with people all over the world but alas no matter how fast Sonic the Hedgehog was he couldn’t quite reach broadband speeds.

I also remember the first CD-ROM I had, “Great Moments in History”, I thought it was the coolest thing and I was far from a nerd.  I was completely in awe of the technology, I could watch clips of Martin Luther King Jr., JFK, the fall of the Berlin Wall, all these great things with a touch of a button.

I would sit and “play” on the computer, this “playing” led me to where I am today and is the major reason of why I have my job today, why I have been somewhat successful, maybe not monetarily but it gave me the chance to wake up every morning and go to a job that I LOVE!  I am often asked, “How did you learn how to use the computer?”

My response, “I played on the computer a lot as a kid.”

It has kept me closer to family and friends and just has been a blessing.  If I were forced to go out and play then who knows where I would be; 5 pounds lighter maybe that’s about it.

Now, parents have a major roll in this.  They do need to monitor the usage of the internet, safety, etc, but to limit it would be like telling a child, “Sorry you have already went to the library 3 times this week, not today.”

When kids were playing we said they weren’t studying enough, now they aren’t playing enough.  Let kids be kids, let them find themselves, let them explore what they enjoy.

Feeding them fried foods, junk food, not telling them you love them, and many other social issues that I am not going to sit here and go on and on about probably have more of a negative impact then kids being on the internet, playing video games, etc.

Games = problem solving, especially the video games of today.  They are so intricate and complex it really takes a thoughtful process to succeed.  Now with most games being multiplayer games the level of “teamwork” is as high in video games as maybe some sports.  When you were a kid how were sports played.  Think about it…9 times out of 10 in grade school 1 or 2 kids were head and shoulders above the rest and everyone else were almost place holders.

The video games kids play now pair them up with people all around the world (that’s a gift and a curse).  Their definitely are some issues with this that need careful monitoring because we know there are plenty of untrustworthy people out there.  But that’s true in the “real world” as much as it is int he “virtual world”.  I have come across more “sketchy” type of people outside libraries walking around then I have playing co-op games of Fifa World Cup Soccer.

Don’t get me wrong, I played sports as a kid and all the way through high school.  I played outside, I rode my bike wherever I needed to go, went to the town pool, and was pretty social.  I still play sports, I love basketball, running, football and many more types of exercising but I was never forced into it.  It’s just what I liked to do.  I am thankful my parents never really pushed me into a “play” date.  Now if one of my friends asked me over they would take me there but never did they say, “You’re going to Johnny’s today.”

Today I find myself in front of the computer at work and at home and it continues to help me to grow.

Here is an article that speaks more to the specifics of “Why Video Games are Good for Your Kids”.

Kids need this freedom to grow, to find themselves, and some will want to play video games and stay on the computer.  What’s so bad about that?

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