Our sweet and compassionate seven year old son just returned from a few weeks with my family in Arizona.
What has returned to us is a whining, computer game addict.
I threatened to send him back there.
I thought sending him to Arizona to detox for three weeks with no computer to play would help. He got in a couple of fixes on his cousin’s Xbox and Wii, but nothing seemed to satisfy his need for Minecraft.
On the way home from the airport, he started asking if he could play. Oh. My. Make. It. Stop.
What is Minecraft, you ask?
The worst money I ever spent.
Or, according to Wikipedia:
The creative and building aspects of Minecraft allow players to build constructions out of textured cubes in a 3D procedurally generated world. Other activities in the game include exploration, gathering resources, crafting, and combat. Gameplay in its commercial release has two principal modes: survival, which requires players to acquire resources and maintain their health and hunger; and creative, where players have an unlimited supply of resources, the ability to fly, and no health or hunger.
Can it be educational? Yes.
Can it be fun? Yes.
Can he play online with his cousins? Yes.
But, he can also become zombie-like, staring at the screen for hours upon end, practically pissing in his pants and periodically complaining that the game is “lagging.”
He talks about servers, skins and butter. Is he baking something?
He talks about armor, resources and the health bar.
Whose kid is this?
I have a love-hate relationship with video and computer games.
I love that he’s creating his own home, gathering food and staying away from the rectangular zombies. What?
I also love that he’s safe and busy while I’m trying to make dinner or just pee without interruption.
But, this monster that appears when I say it’s time to turn it off, keeps repeating “one more second.” Then, this creature falls onto the floor with weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Yes, I know I’m the parent.
Yes, I know I’ve enabled part of this.
However, in my defense, we have tried the timer on the microwave, the timer on my phone; we’ve tried earning his time through chores and deducting from his chore account when he wants to play.
All these things are good in theory; consistent execution is another story.
And, now that summer is here, there is more down time that he can feed this addiction. And, he wants it. He needs it (insert game addict falling on the floor asking when he can play next).
I’ve seriously considered throwing the laptop off the balcony, but then I’d have to waste valuable work time posting from my office. Which is wrong.
Now that we’ve established that we haven’t set clear boundaries around gaming, I’m totally open to your suggestions on how to limit the electronics.
Outside of moving to Amish country, which would make blogging very difficult (I’d have to trade my cakes for homing pigeons), how do you do it in your house?
Erika Kerekes recently wrote on 20 Ways to Get Boys Away From Video Games. It’s very funny and has some great ideas that may or may not work for you.
In the meantime, share you thoughts and ideas on what to do with the boys of summer!