Thursday, April 05, 2007

Video Games: Good for Families?

Read just about anything that's family-oriented, and you'll find video games are widely disparaged. They lead to attention deficit disorder, obesity and isolate your child (or husband) from the rest of the family. "Get outside, do something together, have a game night," these sources all say.

All of those things are good, of course. But I think it's time to back up off the video games.

Not long ago, we visited a family and stayed overnight. The next day, we all enjoyed a quiet Sunday and I got a sneak peek inside their regular weekend experience.

They played video games.

And they had a blast.

True, they couldn't all play together. Mom did spend some time working on her computer, but she was there in the family/dining room with everyone and frequently commented or laughed at things she heard. Dad was having a great time, doing something he loved with his son and older daughter. The youngest child went back and forth between watching and doing her own thing, but she was very happy to laugh at their antics.

They took turns, talked smack, moved around a lot, (video games can be very physical), and included my husband. They had a great time.

I don't see that this is so different than other hobbies and games. Right now, my hubby - who took the day off - is playing Lego Star Wars with Tidbit. She's asking lots of questions and they're talking. She's learning how to use the controls - which will help her later when we finally set up a computer for her. (We're a very technology-oriented family, since we both work in technology.)

I think the key is to make it a family activity and not let your child sit alone in a basement for hours playing video games. Set up a few rules about usage. Find child-friendly games and avoid the violence.

Gamer Dad is a great resource for age-appropriate video game information. That's where I learned about our favorite family games: Katamari Damacy, Dance, Dance Revolution, and Lego Star Wars I.

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