Friday, January 7, 2011

Maybe video games aren't pure evil after all

I'm not a fan of video games. I know it's inevitable that we'll someday have a Wii or Playstation or something, but there's no need to rush it.

Recently, A let R play Club Penguin (run by Disney) because one of R's friends plays it all the time. It's an online game where kids create little penguins, play games, earn coins, adopt pets, change outfits, and interact with each other somewhat. I have to admit the whole thing is pretty cute and fun.

This week, I discovered a few benefits from R playing the game:
  • He's reading more. We told him that he has to read all the text without help from us, and he's doing it.
  • He hardly ever asks to watch TV now. Overall, he's getting a lot less screen time because he usually only plays the game for about a half-hour or less per day.
  • He's learning to save his "money." At first, he spent all the coins he earned in the game right away. Now, he saves his coins and really thinks about any "purchases" he makes.
  • He's learning generosity. Over the holidays, Club Penguin had a program where the kids could donate their coins to help others. R was surprisingly generous, and he was very excited to see the total actual dollar amounts that Disney ended up donating to organizations that provide food, shelter, and medical care.
  • He learned to use the phone. He wanted to play simultaneously with his friend who lives a block away, so A showed him first how to call me at work (to find out where the school directory was) and then to call his friend so they could coordinate.
Of course, we limit R's game time, and he has to finish his homework and spend some time reading a book to us before getting online.

I'm still not thrilled about video games, but this week my heart softened a little, especially when R and his friend camped out in our kitchen and played together like this:

I can't decide if this is incredibly cute or incredibly geeky. Maybe it's both. :-)

How do you feel about kids and video games?


sandwhichisthere said...

as the world becomes more and more complicated, R will need computer skills no matter what he chooses to do in life.Video games don't seem to be harmful. I remember you chasing Isis all over the desert. You will have to be careful about which ones he plays.
The real danger comes when he eventually goes on-line. I once helped Donna's grandson access the Discovery website and watched as he clicked away on the articles and games. I was shocked to see that by clicking away on that site, he ended up on a kiddie porn site. There are a lot of sneaky perverts out there and he will need close supervision on line. I am not sure that it was the Discovery site but it was something that started with a D. The boy got the site from an ad on television.
I don't think that there is anything wrong with being a little geeky, as long as he doesn't start worshipping Jeopardy. That position is already filled by yours truly. (Name seventeen people that have been in your kitchen).
I have a chess program and a Scrabble program and a bridge program that I can try and make copies of if you think that he might like them. Geek is preferable to Gangsta.
all of my love to you and your family, always, daddy.

City Girl said...

Incredibly cute! Love that R is reading on his own and made his first call.