A Dad’s Internal Dialogue on Video Games

Hey Inner Me, how you been?

Hey, I’ve been good.

Thanks for helping me to think through the issue of kids playing video games.

Ah, no problem. Anytime.

Lets begin by admitting that most of us played some type of video game growing up. Sure, they certainly don’t compare to the quality of today’s video games and we typically had to go to an arcade to play them.  But, the reality is, however, we played and enjoyed them when we were much younger.

Somewhere along the way, and certainly after we became dads, we lost touch with video games and began to think of them as evil.  The thought of our children wasting away their lives indoors with their heads stuck in a video game fills us with dread and concern.  Going outside to play ball and run around is so much healthier. Right?

Huh? Well, I think so. Video games will ruin your eye sight, make you go crazy and kill people, or, at least, become more violent.  They’ll turn you into a lazy, unhealthy, slacker.  I can go on all day with this. Don’t you watch the news?!

Yes, I do watch the news, thanks.  But don’t you think the news tends to always show the negative side of things?  I mean, positive news is so rare these days.  I find it’s better for me as a parent to think through things based on my own experience and research I’ve done.  This is what I’m trying to do.  Bear with me a little while longer?

Sure, didn’t mean to be so harsh. It must be my pre-programmed response based on outside stimuli.

No problem. Let me continue.

I’ve played Halo, Doom, and other first person shooters. I’ve played (play) World of Warcraft. Yet, I don’t feel I have developed suicidal tendencies or have grown callus to violence. Heck, not any more than I get from simply watching the evening news.

On the other hand, I’ve experienced the thrill of solving a tough in-game puzzle. My hand eye coordination was certainly improved.  I’ve learned team dynamics and how to help others by playing team games.

Don’t you remember marveling at how the Son struggled through puzzles in his Pokemon game without giving up?  How he has learned to communicate more with his buddies because he knows so much about Pokemon?  How learning to play Guitar Hero has helped him develop his hand strength, hand eye coordination, and self-esteem?

Yes, of course I do. I guess you’re right. There are some positive things that can come from playing video games.  However! I’m sure I can find many examples of how they seemed to detract from a young person’s life. Becoming obsessed with a game like World of Warcraft, is one example that comes to mind.

Sure. You’re right. Absolutely.  Uncontrolled video gaming, like anything in excess, is not good for anyone especially kids.  Any type of addiction is bad and this is no exception.

So, are we reaching the conclusion that what a parent should really be doing is being involved with their kids’ video game life? I mean, a parent should know what video games their kid is playing and how long they play it daily.  I suppose setting play time limits and then balancing video game time with other activity (outside playtime, reading, coloring, etc.) would be best.  Certainly, making sure the kid is playing age-appropriate games is also important. An eight year old playing Halo 3 is not a good thing.

Right, I think a parent should use video games as a learning tool for their child. The parent should speak to them about it. Heck, speaking to your child about something they are interested in and can relate to is wonderful. BUT, the parent should also set limits on game time and be prepared to adapt and respond quickly if they see a child becoming negatively obsessed with the game.

I think that’s correct.  And, one thing you didn’t mention is being cautious about games where you kid can be targeted online by predators.  Very important to use safeguards against that!

Oh, gosh, yes. That’s terribly important.

Well, thanks for the conversation, Inner Me. I think it’s really helped me think through this difficult issue.

Anytime. You know where to find me if you want to talk again.

All the best

The I Follow Movement

I recently found out about the I Follow Movement from Dad Balance.  The movement is about what made the Internet great. Its true power- a sharing of ideas and information. So, I’ve decided to implement it here.

I’ve added the Commentluv plugin that will show the last post you’ve made in your blog when you leave a comment on mine.  This is a great way for us to highlight each other’s writings and spread the good word throughout the Internet.

Of course, because the Internet is also full of people trying to take advantage of its openness (i.e., spammers), I’ve added Lucia’s Linky Love plugin.  This will allow me to remove the nofollow tag for people who are regular contributors to my comments (3+ comments) while maintaining the nofollow for those that the program deems are spammers.

If you have a blog, I encourage you to consider doing something similar.  It falls on all of us to try to make the Internet the wonderful sharing and open environment that it can be.

All the best

Thief ruins a little girl’s day

Yesterday, the wife took my daughter and her best friend to soccer practice. The girls practice at a local public park at 4 p.m. It’s a big open place in the middle of the city.

As the girls are off for spring break, the best friend came over to the house earlier for some play time. She brought her pink Nintendo DS lite, her pink iPod Nano, some games and her life’s savings ($80). They had a grand time.
As they pulled into the park and got ready to dash out to the field, the best friend left all of her things on the backseat of the wife’s car. A few minutes later, she runs up to the wife and asks her to go to the car to get her water that she forgot. The wife goes back in a hurry and forgets to lock the car when she returns.

Sure enough, when practice was over and they returned to the car, the best friend’s possessions were gone. There is some thief out there with a bunch of pink electronics and some cash.

The best friend is very shaken up and upset. We felt awful.  It’s a horrible feeling when someone violates your privacy like that.  The wife is also very upset that some stranger was in our car.

My daughter too was very shaken up. She felt terrible for her friend and told us she wanted to use her money (it’s earning interest in the bank) to replace some of the items that were stolen. This warmed my heart. Of course, I wasn’t about to let her do that. So, when I got home from work, off I went to Best Buy. Four hundred dollars later, the best friend has replaced some of what she lost. Unfortunately, money won’t buy back her innocence.  She now knows that there are bad people out there and she isn’t completely safe from them.

Thief, yesterday you made off with a lot more than some possessions. I truly hope that one day you realize the damage you’ve done!

All the best

The midlife medical check up list

They say that 40 is the new 30 but my body doesn’t seem to have heard that.  At least, it certainly doesn’t seem to agree.  I’m 40 this year and I’m approaching midlife.

Doing some research on the net, I was found a site that presented some interesting thoughts on the subject:

We have two major identity crises. The first, occurring in adolescence, is to establish an identity. You must get a sense of who you are. The second identity crisis is at midlife when you must give up who you think you are so you can become who you were meant to be.

I like that.  “Become who you were meant to be.“  There does come a time when we do let go of some of the dreams we had and come to grips with life’s realities.  This, presumably, helps you become the person you’re supposed to be.  Hmm.  I don’t know. 

I have also heard that you grow old when you replace dreams with regrets. I certainly don’t want to do that. Perhaps a better saying is replacing your early dreams with new, more mature ones?

Well, enough babble.  If you’ve hit middle age or are quickly approaching it, here’s what you got to do so that you have a good chance of seeing your grandkids:

After 40, every year:

  • Physical exam for cancer (skin, thyroid, lymph nodes, prostate and rectum)
  • Dental Exam

Every 1-2 years:

  • Height/weight measurements
  • Blood pressure check
  • Stool sample check for blood
  • Vision and glaucoma check

Every 3-5 years:

  • Cholesterol check
  • Blood sugar check
  • Sigmoidoscopy after age 50 for colon cancer (40 if you have a family history like me!)

Follow the above with a routine of daily 30 minutes of exercise and a diet low in fat and high in fiber.

Here’s wishing you a long and healthy life.  Your kids deserve it!

All the best