The Curse of the Video Game.

24 Hour TV

The fun of virtual home-schooling with pupils having to dial in using meeting software is all very well and good. I’m confident the teachers are doing their best. When the day comes to a close and the school work has been completed, is it safe or appropriate for students to sit and play computer games or watch endless amounts of 24 hour TV?

Our house

In our house, we have a rule during the week of no screens after dinner. I suggested this to my wife when we brought our gorgeous son home from the maternity hospital. Giving it more consideration, maybe not the day he came home. Please don’t think me a bad parent, and I would have just stuck him in front of the TV from day one. No, together we decided to do this when we started watching appropriate films together as a family. Maybe when he was four years of age? 

One clever kid!

I remember only one school friend, in my end of year class at primary school, passing his exams. He moved on to Grammar school when the rest of the class went to Secondary. This friend from days gone by didn’t have a TV at home. I think this may have had a big contribution to him passing the exam and being clever? 

A few years on and this rule still applies in our house. Apart from the days of the week when a lie-in is offered the following day.

zx spectrum 48k.. with rubber keys

The regular want from my son to want to play computer games is the concern I have. The number of games on offer and the type of game. At his age, long before I was lucky enough to have a ZX Spectrum 48k with the rubber keys, I had one video game console. Scramble. With basic graphics, I controlled a little spaceship up, down, and a little forward, and a little back. Shooting alien ships entering the screen from the edge on course to attack my ship. I’m not sure how many lives each game had, but once they had all gone, then that was it; they were gone. I had to start all over again. There was no option to pause, no-repeat, and no extra tokens to buy protection or extra lives with. When my spaceship, which I had power over through the tiny joystick I held between my small fingers, crashed into the ground or head-on into an oncoming baddie, a basic ‘80’s electronic tune played and ‘Game Over’ appeared. The screen went blank for a second, or maybe two before the start menu appeared….. My older sister had Pac Man. 

But these days, games are much more complex. A lot different from the old days, or in a way, better? The graphics are very realistic and could be mistaken for real life. The variety is to be questioned as well. 

How many platforms?

I’m not sure how many different game platforms there are? The platform my son plays has many, many different game options. Some are not age-appropriate. The Parental Settings are set, so I’m happy he won’t stumble into an unsuitable game. A game that might give him nightmares or suddenly change his pleasant temperament. We have had unattractive moments when we, as parents, say no to a game. The argument is thrown back, saying ‘so and so at school plays it’. These replies are unconfirmed. I know some children in the same class are playing games that are in unsuitable age ranges. This is confirmed, but parents bringing up that they let their child play this game, or that game, in playground conversations. I haven’t followed the conversation prompting why these age restrictions are in place. Should I?

Gone are the days

Gone are the days when a child would tell when it was time to go home when the street lights came on or the sun setting in the West but forget because of having so much fun. Now it seems harder to prise youngsters away from an electronic device, whether it’s a computer or iPad. The strained effort to get outside seems to be the big challenge or stop playing for the evening meal. It’s always ‘just one more’ or ‘I haven’t got this far before’ that comes as a reply when dinner is announced and has started to get cold on the table.

But today, it is snowing. Some children and parents trudge past in the deep layers of snow with sledges towards the Golf Course for fun speeding down the slopes. This is good; they are outside, having fun.

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