Alternatively You Could…

I’ll begin by reminding you that I am a card carrying member of the troglodyte class. So what I say here is going to sound very much like a luddite, I am aware. But I wanted to briefly fill some space offering a solution to the problem presented by Melanie Hempe on TGC in an article titled What to Do When Your Child is Addicted to Video Games. I will also grant that this is beyond Monday morning quarterbacking in many cases, but perhaps is some fodder for thought in future scenarios.

My father was fond a quote from Barney Fiffe, and it is applicable here, “nip it, nip it in the bud.” And indeed that is what my parents did with my sisters and I when it came to digital media of any kind. The only addiction allowed in our house was reading, and if you failed to take to that particular drug you were booted out of doors to develop your own imagination. The irony is that my father was on the cutting edge of technology, always. He had an Apple Macintosh Plus (that I inherited) when it first came out. We always had some sort of new, supposedly ease making, technology in our living-room, or computer room. It was made plain to us that “these were tools not toys.”* Games were a novelty or educational. As such my sisters and I entered into adulthood viewing video games and gamers as time consuming and interesting specimens respectively. 

My point is simply, what if parents were parents and, in the context of the mentioned article, just said no? I understand that fits may be pitch, campaigns of nagging will be waged, deceptions may be attempted. But not to put too fine a point on things, parents are the adults, they are in charge, it’s their job. I would almost surmise that with the way algorithms go it might be best to leave the dashed things alone all together with adolescents. And I am living proof that the child will not only survive this deprivation, but will thrive. To this day many of my friends go off to play video games without me, and, shockingly I know, I either have other friends or the ability to occupy my time productively. And bear in mind that good male friends are hard to come by these days. 

But that is just one end of the spectrum. Video games like whisky, or cigars (my indulgences) are not evil in themselves.** Maturity and then moderation is the key. Hempe does talk of moderation, but I think maturity needs more attention. For goodness sake good parents keep their kids from drinking coffee at least until high school because it is addicting. I would like to ask why start on the addicting stuff so early? But my lazy side almost thinks it is easier, and cheaper, to just rule the things out all together.

As a final thought Kevin DeYoung recently hosted Tony Reinke and Samuel D. James on Life, Books, and Everything. And one of them mentioned how it felt hypocritical, and that their kids saw it as hypocritical, that mom and dad had smart phones and the kids didn’t. This was presented as something of a difficult question. I don’t think it is. If my child asked me why I had a smart phone and they didn’t have a phone at all my answer would be, “Because I am an adult and you are not.” This was the general understanding in my hose growing up. Why don’t I get to stay up late like my parents, they were the adults and I was a child. As I matured options became available, but it was not to be taken for granted that we had any place for demands. 

With all of the worry of helicopter parents about ten years ago I find myself confused as to what the parents were monitoring exactly, if now we can see with such severe video game addiction that they so clearly missed the big E on the eye chart.

*to paraphrase Father Christmas

**The vile sort of game that no Christian has any business playing excluded

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