Vintage Parenting: Why We Said No to Video Games

Jan 29, 2016 | On Motherhood | 28 comments

Vintage Parenting: Why we said No to Video Games

Photo credit: Jessica Lynn Studios

Why We Said No to Video Games?

Quick answers, because:

  • there’s too much life to live.
  • I’m the Mom.
  • I love you too much to watch you rot in front of a screen.

 

I’m gonna have a hard time wading into this one because I know that my written words can come off preachy. But I hate the sight of a boy playing video games. I’m well aware that’s not a fair statement. Video games could easily fall into the “everything in moderation” category.

But no. Gag. I just can’t do it. And I’m such a hypocrite. Truth be told you know what I covet? A genuine, arcade quality, upright Ms PacMan game.

I’ll smoke you.

I’m the queen.

Serious. I have a problem. If we stumble upon an old bar or a lobby or some throwback place to the eighties and I see a Ms PacMan machine I go simply nuts.

I’m trying to lighten the mood. ‘Cause I’d like to believe that deep down, all mothers know there is something better out there for their boys than hours rotting in front of a screen. We do, don’t we? Please? 

And please don’t talk to me about hand/eye coordination. I can’t handle it. You know what else improves hand/eye coordination? Drawing, piano lessons, handwriting, playing catch… you get the picture. The whole hand/eye coordination argument thing isn’t going to fly in this farmhouse.

Saying “no” to video games wasn’t something that required a ton of research on our part. In fact, we did none. We tossed our televisions when our eldest was about 2. He didn’t watch T.V. The great age of sitcoms we were addicted to (Friends, Fraiser, Seinfield…) was over.

Outdoor life was taking over, our interests were growing. (I’m ashamed of all the time I wasted years ago watching TV). The boob tube had to go. With it – our old Nintendo that we used to play together as a couple. We’ve been eight-plus years with no T.V. And haven’t regretted it ONE day.

Playing the Piano, Farming, Music

Fast forward to being a Momma to a little boy, and then two little boys. I’m smitten with them. I love them. Their energy. The ridiculous depths of their creativity. Their obsession with frogs. And caterpillars. The very last thing in the WORLD that I want for them is to spend precious hours of their precious time on this earth rotting in front of a screen… overstimulating their brains… Or understimulating them as it were.

Oh! the time that they could be pouring into something that will bear fruit!!!

See, that’s what I think about video games: They bear no fruit. All I’m all about spending time with something that is going to PRODUCE. Not reduce. I’m all for producing and not consuming. Flourishing instead of rotting. (For all people. Not just little boys.)

And come on. How many of us families have truly ANY business spending that kind of money that it requires to maintain this habit?

Soooooooo – being that my boys are NORMAL boys and notice what others have and what we don’t. Of course, from time to time they are going to question our decision.

I encourage them by pointing out all the other things they do during the day and inquire as to WHEN they would have time to play. They get the point quickly and truth be told, this has only come up once or twice so far. And you know what? Some of my girlfriends have things I don’t have and when I visit them, I enjoy those things. So, of course, the boys can look on the occasional visit to a friend’s house as a chance to play if they want.

Vintage Parenting: Why we said No to Video Games

So what about that almost innate desire for a modern boy of this age to play video games?

What do we do to satisfy that since we’ve said “no” to video games? Well, there are a handful of things I have found they keep them feeling like they get some technological time in but also give them something to show for their time spent… something more than glazed over eyes.

 

Typing games.

Yep. Of course, we do cursive as a part of our home education but I also want them to know how to type. There are fun, non-over-stimulating typing games available for free and the kids love them. This is the website we use. They love it and see it as a special treat! My ten-year old’s favourite is the Meteor Typing Blast and The Desert Typing Racer. It’s our job to raise him to provide for a family someday. Typing is just one more skill he can learn while here at home and it can be fun. He loves it. (It also helps with spelling which we struggle with.)

 

Teaching Textbooks.

I finally got savvy and got Aidan started with Teaching Textbooks. I was SICK SICK SICK of teaching math and trying to teach little ones to read and the same time. Brain explosion. HE LOVES IT. He gets the computer to himself. Gets to click that mouse. It feels like “computer time” to him instead of math work. It’s been FABULOUS addition and change to our home education.

 

Build Your Own Lego Movie.

This is an app on my iPad and a couple times a month I’ll let Aidan borrow my iPad (Only sparingly because devices are SOOOOOOOOO bad for our children’s developing brain tissue. Don’t get me started.) But he is able to take his creativity and his Lego skills/obsession and combine them. It’s stop-motion animation and he does a pretty darn good job. He and 4-year-old Julien will spend an entire afternoon placing the iPad camera JUST so, lining up each shot… so impressive. Here’s one of his little movies:

 

I also gave Aidan an old video camera.

He builds it into his lego trains, mounts it to the top of his bike helmet with hot glue… you name it. But he makes little movies, tours of his frog habitats… again, enjoying a screen but being creative and documenting his time as a child.

 

An electric keyboard.

We have an old upright piano but this summer at a garage sale Aidan did some MIGHTY fine negotiating for a quality electric keyboard. It’s in his room. He can tinker with drum beats, chords… making music.

NASA.gov.

When he’s had a great week at school he’ll come to me and say, Mom, can I go to NASA? Here he watches rocket launches, participates in interactive stuff… the stuff that interests him could put me to sleep but he loves it and after awhile he’s at his Lego table or with a sketch pad in hand trying to draw what he’s learned.

 

So, I hope you can see I’m not some anti-technology Nazi. It’s just that I love those boys too much to see him holed up in their room, eye’s glazed over, hours passing by… and we all know full-grown men who piss hours away playing video games while their wives, bank accounts and children suffer. Men who still live with mom and dad in the basement… playing video games instead of getting a second job or a job at all for that matter. It’s just a sign of the times and I’m sorry but there is just…

There is just too much life to live.

And that’s why we said NO to video games.

And you can too.

Thanks for reading Angela Parisienne Farmgirl

28 Comments

  1. mandy

    Amen sista. We do have a wii, but I swear to the heavens that I can tell if my kids been playing by attitude alone. Crazy things happen in their brains. My 14 yr old BEGS for a playstation or x-box or something…can’t keep them straight, cause that’s all his friends do. I hate it. I think it gives boys an accomplished feeling. We no longer have rights of passage, or allow boys to be wild boys, so they compensate by feeling accomplished by gaining the ‘next level’ etc. Very sad.

    Reply
  2. Teresa

    I don’t have any kiddos at home anymore but when my grands visit this is one of the things I say to them: No Games! I have them doing things instead. Chopping wood? They love this! It makes them feel good to do something and this pits their young muscles against a piece of wood and the smiles on their faces when they split the wood? Priceless.

    Reply
  3. Ramona

    I feel the same way. These modern day devices are just pacifiers. They keep the kids quiet, but I’d much rather SEE and HEAR the children playing and laughing and enjoying their childhood! When my son was young I would tell him, “Nintendo doesn’t give scholarships” (maybe they did?…I had no idea, I just told him that! 😉 ) Fast forward 30 years: He is a college instructor working on his Masters degree. He’s outdoors with his children EVERYDAY. He’s a warm, caring, creative, loving papa. I once saw a bumper sticker that read….SPEAK YOUR MIND, EVEN IF YOUR VOICE SHAKES – Maggie Kuhn Hurray to you Angela, and to parents everywhere who want to raise their children to become productive citizens.

    Reply
    • Parisienne Farmgirl

      This is exactly what my husband said this morning at breakfast. He said they are babysitters. Ten year old boys are LOUD with a crapload of energy and sending them to the basement to “game” had got to be easier for Mom and Dad then listening to them run around the house like a herd of buffalo!

      Reply
      • Kathleen Botsford

        You could always give them Ritalin! Half of our young boys are getting drugs so they don’t act like boys 🙁

        Reply
  4. Angela Muller

    Angela, I completely agree with just about everything you voiced about video games, etc. However, what you are doing is easier to achieve because you homeschool your children. When they are exposed to the public school curriculum and other public school children, then, keeping them away from these devices and vices is far more difficult. If a parent is going to attempt that type of control in a more public environment, it requires 24/7 vigilance.

    Reply
    • Parisienne Farmgirl

      Yes, I can see how this would make it more far difficult but I do think it’s misconception if people think homeschool students are “sheltered” or maybe easier to raise. Our kids have tons of friends from all walks of life. And not all homeschool parents think alike. The public school parent can still control how time is spent within their own house though. They can still work to give the gift of learning and growing the child’s talents in the home environment. Encouraging productivity, creativity, etc. Instilling that love. House “rules” that go against the grain might come with more of a fuss or resistance on the child’s part based on what their friends are doing but the role will be reversed for the homeschool parent in some other category of life, trust me. Oh my heaven… how nice and quiet would it be if he would just go play some video games after a day of schooling! No mess, no noise… 🙂
      I think all parenting, when properly done takes 24.7 vigilance. Sigh.

      Reply
  5. Kathleen Botsford

    I also said NO to video games. One day my son and I were in Walmart and he said quite loudly “Momma, look at that poor little boy”. I turned expecting to see a little tyke on crutches or in a wheel chair……”his momma doesn’t know video games are bad for you”. The other mom was not smiling when I turned around….
    That same son is now working in Congress, writing life changing bills after graduating from Notre Dame.
    I think so many parents get caught up in the social whirl of parenting and forget they have the responsibility and the
    right to make decisions for their children and families that reflect THEIR values and not the values of society.

    Reply
    • Parisienne Farmgirl

      I’ve had my kids say the same thing when we are out shopping or out for dinner and they see a young person with a hand held game or device. They feel sorry for them that they aren’t having true family time. I’ve had to hush them too 🙂 Yikes!

      Reply
    • LBDDiaries

      My son said that exact same thing in a store, too! For games, videos and throwing temper tantrums on the floor!

      Reply
    • SJ

      Amen!!!

      Reply
  6. Carol Blanchet

    I know you were expecting at least one person to be the fly in the ointment. I guess I just wanted to say that there is such a thing as moderation. There really isn’t a “need” for video games, per se, but they aren’t evil. (well, some are!) From my OWN experience, we have made decisions that we thought were best for our kids’ character – only to fall in to the “check-list mindset” That is to say, we felt safe because of our choices, but it backfired with one of ours. So I guess, what I am really trying to say, is know the hearts of your children above all else.
    I hope that makes sense.
    Thanks for this post – so much to consider and think about on this parenting journey. 🙂

    Reply
    • Parisienne Farmgirl

      Carol, thanks for your comment and you’re no fly:)
      I don’t think I implied they are evil… did I? I hope not. Just that they are a waste of time and our boys can offer the world so much more. Yes – we have to know the heart of our child. I have noticed that ANY extending time in front of the screen totally changes the behavior of all my children. It’s really amazing. (Like a rainy day where I let them watch a couple movies). They just get ornery. I was hoping to express that for us the “moderation” is playing the games at a friends house. Our days are SO jam packed I don’t know WHEN they would have time to play. It surely would take away from a good book, some messy art project or just playing in the mud.
      Parenting IS a journey isn’t it?

      Reply
      • Carol Blanchet

        Angela,
        Oh, please know my heart…your post was spot on about valuable activity choices for our children. There are so many things to spark creativity and productivity and screen time isn’t one of those things. I’m thankful for your post – it’s a little convicting because sometimes I give in, and I know I shouldn’t.
        (Thankful for your nudge and reminder!)
        I didn’t want other readers to make the mistake we made by somehow thinking that even if we make
        the perfect activity choices for them, it’s not a guarantee of good character. You know like the perfect homeschooler code (matching clothes, homemade everything, no t.v.) Your post never eluded to that at all, it was just what came to my mind. 🙂

        Reply
        • Parisienne Farmgirl

          Oh I love your heart Carol. No worries! I gotcha! We’re on the same page.

          Reply
    • Amy

      Thank you! Agreed! Though I can’t argue with Angela’s way of doing things. Her kids aren’t truly missing anything by not playing video games.

      Reply
  7. Nita Hiltner

    I agree, but my grandson spent countless hours playing games and still does. Was not an outdoor boy at all as I had no say, but today he is in a special physics program in college and is brilliant, and will one day be a rocket scientist or another kind of explorer. So, in his case, the games didn’t hurt him. My 3 yr old grandson I will try to influence to be an outside guy, and as of now, he spends tons of time playing outdoors.

    Reply
  8. LBDDiaries

    You said they bear no fruit but that’s not true. They bear negative fruit. I remember reading about a child who shot his friend thinking he’d get back up “just like they did in the video game.” I also don’t think it is a fluke that there is more violence now days when those games are so realistic it is as if they are really shooting, knifing, cutting, slicing, and dicing other characters. The Bible talks about that – paraphrase “you are what you put in” – and you bear the fruit of that, bad or good. It will come out.

    When we first married, Alpha Hubby purchased the satellite receiver we needed to watch television. Like the lady said above there, I knew if Alpha Son (who was 11) had spent too much time watching certain shows on television (wrestling [Hulk Hogan cartoon] or Ninja) because his attitude would show it – he’d tackle Alpha Hubby or sneak up to karate chop him, wanting to play wrestle or ninja.

    As a single parent, I said “NO” to Nintendo in the 80’s. It didn’t kill him – he was too busy playing outside. He went to a Christian school but it was the same as public in the sense that other parents did not ban gaming stations, etc. We had a television but no cable (thus no channels) or VCR so unless I rented a VCR and videos the television wasn’t on. At the time it wasn’t a decision so much as “no money”! It was a special treat with G-rated videos on weekends once a month. My son is now 33. He and his wife “play outside” rather than stay glued to television and games. They 4-wheel, camp, hike, travel, whatever and love spending that time together communicating.

    Alpha Hubby and I played Mario Cart occasionally until I gave it away when we stopped playing. We watch television once in awhile on weekends, never during the week, and then it’s only 1 or 2 movies. We made a deal never to get hooked into series again. I do not miss it at all.

    And I’ll tell you another secret that seems to be politically incorrect – I spanked! I also learned that if I handled it correctly, he rarely needed correcting. So spanking doesn’t kill your children, either!

    Reply
    • LBDDiaries

      Sorry it’s so long up there!!

      Reply
  9. Wendy Durig

    Yes Ma’am!!
    Thank you
    Blessings
    Wendy

    Reply
  10. Bonnie Schulte

    I have three sons, adults now, and they did have Nintendo when it first came out, and played it now and then, when friends came over, but even then, not that often. I now have 8 grandchildren, and only the oldest at 15, has a cell phone/camera.(Why does a 1st grader need a phone)? They don’t play video games, but they love the outdoors, play ball out side, go bike riding,play outside with the dog, go fishing, hiking, and camping with their parents, (no electricity there). Just want to say, I, as a mother and grandparent I think you are a #1, Mom, bringing up your lovely family, doing what you are doing..PERFECT!!!!. More Moms should take a lesson from you. What a better world it would be. And of course, I wish the kids today grew up in my time, in the 40’s and 50’s. We made memories with the neighbor kids, and making up games and making do with the little bit that was available or us. No TV, but we did have books to read, dolls to play with, blocks to build with, and clay and paints to develop out skills and minds. Anyway…I’m off my soap now, thanks for reading this comment, I So enjoy reading your blog..You are Amazing!!!!!!!

    Reply
  11. Barbara

    Have just come across your lovely blog, enticed by the title! We are back in England having lived in France for 15 years, and had a wonderful time.
    Recently here in UK there has been a lot in the news about Ipads being given to 2 year olds, can you believe? It’s a way of keeping the child quiet..like a pacifier?? As a retired teacher, mother and grandmother, I know the values of reading with children, talking with them, playing with them. Interaction doesn’t come with Ipads.

    Reply
  12. Deborah

    Kudos to you. Constant entertainment often robs children of their own opportunities to create and DO for themselves. We homeschooled 2 daughters from their school grades of 5th and 6th thru graduation. Both easily transitioned to college, and I’m so thankful for every moment of it. They are married with kids of their own now and both plant to homeschool.
    Someone gave us a nintendo game during that time and it soon became clear that moderation was necessary when someone developed bloodshot eyes! Our kids learned how to type with the old Mavis Beacon programs on our home computer and enriched their geography skills with “where in the world is Carmen Sandiego”. They were allowed to play their way thru “Space Quest” in limited time. Our television was rarely used for anything but an occasional movie.
    You are to be commended. Your kids will “rise up and ‘call you blessed”. Mine do now, but we laugh about our rocky start to homeschooling and that isn’t what they called me to start with. Not to my face of course. 😀

    Reply
  13. Dore @ Burlap Luxe

    Oral surgery has kept me up late tonight and reading seams to help tire the pain.
    I read here no video games, and with Gaming being such a big thing with not only boys but girls these days I feel it’s not healthy at all… As for eye and hand coordination physical therapist say one of the best old fashioned 70’s game Dor this is the game of TWISTER! you know the plastic sheet you spread out on the floor or ground and you place your hands and feet on the coloured dots at each spin.
    Yes proven to even help reading skills because of the eye and hand coordination.

    No need to feel preachy here, your the Mom, and you know what’s best for your family.
    I was a no video game Mom! I found that they lent to be way to aggressively violent I’m nature, and by the 90’s no one wanted pac-man they wanted to shoot, bomb, and kill.
    Keep up the healthy learning skills, your children will thank you for it when they become parents.

    Xx
    Dore

    Reply
  14. Janet

    .Great Post. Don’t worry about being preachy–it needs to be said! I wish I had been so bold–yet loving–when I was your age. I love your blog, you say things so well.
    Had to laugh at Deborah-above–my 24 yo learned to type with Mavis Beacon, now my younger kids are learning with her too! I’ll check out the more “modern” typing sites you listed!
    Our oldest son bought a used Wii for our little kids a few years ago. At that time they still needed to help to set it up, etc., so mom didn’t do it very often. Last summer we donated it, because they had not played it in so long.

    Reply
  15. Adina

    Great post, Angela! We also grew up with no TV (both mine and my husband’s families–we were always the oddballs that had no clue about any shows the other kids in school talked about:)) And we don’t have a TV now that we are raising our own family, however we do allow our kids to play video games–curated of course and very limited: three days a week, for no longer than an hour screen time per day. There’s so much truth in what you said and I wish more families/parents cared about the next generation enough to try and limit this stuff. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  16. Nita Hiltner

    I agree, but my oldest grandson is now at Stanford U. as a graduate student in physics partly because he is a game player, so sometimes it can go both ways. He is not an outdoor person and that makes me sad.

    Reply

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