3 reasons we don’t let our children play video games*

3 reasons we don’t let our children play video games*My oldest son was stirring his Oreo milkshake, eating one methodical bite at a time at the local fast-food joint recently, when the conversation turned to his friends.

“I’d much rather spend time at his house than mine,” my son said, referencing a boy his age he had just visited. “Our house is boring.”

I could have been offended, but I wasn’t. Instead, I took a bite of my strawberry sundae and let the discussion progress naturally, free of any knee-jerk reactions.

“He has videos games,” he said. “We don’t.”

A thousand thoughts swirled in my head that went unsaid: We have a large yard. We have a basketball goal. We have a bicycle for every member of the family. We have a basement. We have a large television set. We have a Lego collection that would rival Legoland’s. Besides, what about those starving children in Africa who don’t have any toys?!

But I didn’t say any of that. Instead, I drove the discussion in a different direction: “If we had video games, what would you do less of that you do now?”

My son was stuck. If he answered truthfully – reading? playing outside? doing homework? – then he would be playing into my hands. Thus, we called it a truce, went home, and had a great game of hoops at our old “boring” home.

The Entertainment Software Association reported this year that exactly 50 percent of Americans own either a dedicated video game console or a handheld system.

My household, though, isn’t one of them. Even though we allow our children to play video games at other homes and we let them play the occasional iPhone game of Candy Crush, too, we don’t own a video game console. Perhaps that will change in a few years, but for now, we’re holding off.

Here are three reasons we’ve chosen to have a house free of video games: Continue reading

The reason boredom is actually good for children

The reason boredom is actually good for childrenAs it turns out, “I’m bored, Mom” could be one of the best things a parent can hear.

That’s the conclusion of counselor and author Archibald Hart, who believes that our media-crazed, constantly stimulated culture is harming the creativity and imagination of children. Hart and his daughter, Sylvia Hart Frejd, appeared on Focus on The Family’s radio broadcast recently, and if you have children who play video games or desire to do so, I’d encourage you to listen. And after you do, you just might pick up your child and flee the next time someone hands him or her that Wii controller.

The theme of the broadcast (which is in two parts) is “Protecting Your Child From the Digital Invasion.” They say parents should avoid flocking to media every time their child is looking for something to do. When kids are bored, Hart says, they are forced to use their imagination.

Among their somewhat shocking conclusions: Continue reading