One of the very first blog posts I ever wrote was called “Why the DS is the Bane of my Existence” and it was true at the time. We owned 2 DS units between 5 kids and it was absolutely hellacious.
The DS units actually disappeared from the house for about 6 months. No one played. No one even knew where they went. It was bliss (for me).
How do we get into these situations as parents? Do we have bad kids? Should we ban all video devices and game players from the home? Or should we learn how to parent through this challenge and expect some cooperation from our kids too?
Sharon Silver, parenting expert, author, and creator of Proactive Parenting gives 8 fantastic tips for families on how to make the video game phenomenon a success in your house. She successfully parented two video game-loving children who are now both in the technology field.
Check the Ratings
Make sure the content is appropriate to your child. There are ratings from the Electronic Software Rating Board (ESRB) on the box. Silver notes if you think it might be violent, it probably is. Avoid that.
Weave in a Little Learning
Not all of their games need to be “mindless” – Silver suggests rotating between the “fun” games and learning games, possibly a day for each. If your children resist, she suggests letting them know maybe they shouldn’t play either kind of games until they understand how to act more mature about their choices.
3 Cardinal Rules
Of course, there will be squabbles; they’re kids. If these tussles become a nightmare for you, try these three rules:
If your child is getting frustrated: make them take a break
If your child won’t share: use a timer to help make sure each gets a fair turn (I used this one this morning – learned how to use the “timer” function on my phone too!)
If your child continues to negotiate for more time: mandate a 24-hour break. This will train them to listen when you say play time is over.
Tradeoffs and Time Limits
Kids earn sitting/sedentary time by moving for 30 minutes to earn 10 minutes of game time. Also, give them options of games where you must move to participate (like the Wii).
Save Their Games
Silver points out that most games are designed to continue forever (it seems). So, if a child understands that he can save the game and come back later or the next day, it should make him more willing to walk away, understanding he won’t lose the progress he’s attained.
Schedule Non-Electronic Days
As a teaching tool of time management, Silver offers the idea of giving your children specific days that are electronic days and are non-electronic days. This way, they can decide how to divide up their time. If they fail, they lose the privilege of managing themselves the next week.
Make Them Earn It
Like allowance, you can use game time to reward your children for chores or special things they have done. Once they complete their chores, they get to play.
Find Their “Aggression-Point”
Silver recommends giving your child 5 minutes of game time, then 25 minutes of playtime outside or elsewhere. As he or she shows they can do that, and then give them longer time periods in 5 minute-increments. Once your child starts to show frustration with the video, you know they’ve hit their aggression point and it’s time to dial it back.
So, try these ideas and see how it goes. I’ve already used a couple of these rules and now, instead of a day of screaming and fighting, my children are playing a pretend game far away from the game player – thank goodness!
Please read more about Silver and her wonderful parenting techniques at www.proactiveparenting.net.
Marijo Tinlin is the Editor in Chief of Family First, one of the oldest family-oriented websites on the internet. She is also the author of the new book about patriotism and teaching our children to love this country called “How to Raise an American Patriot, Making it Okay for Our Kids to Be Proud to Be American.” It features 13 interviews with patriotic Americans including Ed Meese, Erick Erickson and Jackie Gingrich Cushman. It’s available at www.raisinganamericanpatriot.com.]]>
My 2 ½ year old wants to do everything his bigger siblings do, including playing video games.
While I’m not a fan of hours and hours of video games, when I know they are learning something, I’m better with the kids playing them for a bit.
Of course, my son demands a turn and usually has no idea how to play – mostly, he wants to hold the Wii remote because he knows that’s somehow important.
Well, now there is a game he can play that he knows how to operate and he is learning something from.
Released last month from Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, “Elmo’s A-to-Zoo Adventure The Videogame” does just this.
Along with the complimentary “Cookie’s Counting Carnival The Videogame” these games can really help jump start or reinforce learning letters and numbers in a fun, interactive way for young children.
Both games are available for the Wii or Nintendo DS systems. The Wii games sell for $39.99 and the DS games sell for $29.99. It’s a one-player game but parents can enable a second remote to give help, if needed.
The Wii game comes with a soft character cover for the remote that covers up non-essential buttons to make it easier for the kids to play. Most of the games require a motion such as jumping, scooping or sweeping to make their selections so it’s super easy.
The DS game comes with a jumbo click stylus designed for small hands, which simplifies the interaction with the touch screen. It also features a retractable tip and wrist strap for safety and has a soft grip for comfort.
In Elmo’s game, the focus is the alphabet. Kids have a choice between visiting the zoo games and playing other games after they have chosen what shape icon they will be (like a profile).
Some of the principles being taught include letter identification, making rhymes, letter sounds and color and shape identification. They explore different habitats around the zoo including the Arctic, the Savannah, and the Jungle, to name a few.
A Sesame Street character named Chris helps by narrating throughout to instruct your child on exactly how to play. My son picked this up very quickly and gets SO excited when he selects the right answer!
For the Cookie Monster game, kids join Big Bird and Cookie at a carnival to help learn number identification, counting, shapes and pattern recognition. They visit different areas of the carnival such as the Petting Zoo, Arcade and Food Court, among others.
“Bringing the Sesame Street gold-standard literacy and math curriculum to these interactive platforms, which were modified and kid-tested to ensure age-appropriate playful learning experiences, provides families additional tools to foster fundamental academic skills as well as a love of learning,” says Dr. Rosemarie T. Truglio of the Sesame Workshop.
“The games are entertaining and intuitive, enabling the youngest kids in the family to have fun while learning at their own pace,” says Samantha Ryan, Senior Vice President, Development and Production, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.
I can tell you that’s what’s happening at our house! Keep these games in mind for a great gift for your young child or family member for the up-coming holiday season.
For additional information about the games, visit www.sesamestreetvideogames.com.
Disclosure: I was provided with a complimentary copy of the Elmo game for review.]]>