The biggest problem we have in our child-directed learning program is that my kids want to play video games all day. Well, that’s not true. They’ll choose eating over video games if they’re hungry. And they’ll choose to turn off their games to participate in activities they’ve chosen, like swimming or skateboarding.
But the way to deal with any moment of boredom is to turn on the video games. And in our lives, that means anything from a two-minute drive to the wood pile to a 90-minute drive into Madison. I have made a compromise with them: they turn down the volume on their DS’s and I play whatever violin or cello piece they are learning, or Bach, or, sometimes I take special requests like Willow Smith.
But I still have huge guilt that the kids play so many hours a day.
Fortunately, Lisa Nielsen (who wrote a guest post on this blog about video games) directed me to this post by Peter Gray, a professor of psychology at Boston College. He has great arguments about why it’s important to let kids play video games if that’s their choice.
His first argument is that we should show kids that we trust them to make good choices about what they do with their time. He says kids really do know what is interesting and stimulating to them, and if they have a wide range of choices, we should trust them to make good ones.
The other argument that really blew me away, though, was that if you say that tons of video game playing is anti-social and too sedintary, then you must say that about reading, too. Because it’s true for both reading and video games.
In fact, you could say that video games are more social because kids love watching each other playing video games. So if you are so worried about social development then maybe you should tell your kid to stop reading and try some multi-player video games.
It’s hard for me to understand the video games. I don’t like them. But I do like reading. And if someone said to me that I can only read for an hour a day, I’d be anxious all day, trying to negotiate for more, and trying to sneak (reading pamphlets in the doctor’s office, maybe?) and I would never feel satisfied after my hour was done.
Thinking this way makes me feel that maybe unlimited time might work. Maybe I’ll give it a test.