I am anti-video gaming for kids. Now wait, wait, before anyone gets up in arms, I am not saying you are a bad parent if you let your kid play video games. I just don't like the idea of letting your kids play video games for hours daily. I remember being young and using my imagination, reading books, playing outside... and I didn't hate my childhood! My brothers had a Nintendo and then a Super Nintendo, but I rarely played it and if I did, I had to pay a penny per game.
We had a Wii. L liked to watch people play, but didn't really want to play. A liked to play... scratch that, loved to play. But the Wii was in the living room and they had to ask to play and we usually said no, so they forgot about it for the most part. The Wii began collecting dust so we decided to sell it.
I know a lot of people who have given their children iPads, tablets, Kindles, Nintendo DS, PSP (do those still exist) along with the traditional systems like Wii, Playstation, XBox 360 and some are addicted, some aren't. Some parents regulate usage, some don't. I definitely don't want my children to have anything with internet access right now.
So David and I were talking about this road trip we plan to take with the kids to Florida this summer. It is an 18 hour drive. I know how boring it was as a kid taking a 5 hour drive to my grandparents' house a few times a year. At one point we had Gameboys or Walkmans and I would bring books, but it was still a long trip. I also remember we used to use our own money and when my dad stopped at Sam's we would buy the biggest and cheapest pack of AA batteries we could find!
Now to the denouement of my story: we toyed with the idea of getting them a DS for the trip. I thought it was a lot of money to spend on L when he wouldn't understand it very well, but David felt it wasn't fair to get A one and not L. I couldn't do it... I tried, but I couldn't do it. So we ventured to the toy section and we stumbled upon LeapFrog and V-Tech systems that are similar in concept to tablets and the DS, but are educational and more little kid friendly. After what felt like an hour scouring over the details, specifications, pros and cons, we settled on getting them each a LeapsterGS, which plays Leapster Explorer games.
Today is day two that they've had it. I'm not thrilled about how much they ask to play it, but I am going to stick to my guns about limiting how much they play it so they don't become junkies. I can already tell they aren't going to be happy with me about it, but I still believe that kids need to do real play, not just video play.
Are you for or against giving kids gadgets? What, if anything, do your kids play?