Saturday, January 28, 2012

New Best Friend: Super Mario

My kids have recently discovered Super Mario Bros.  They didn't really understand that it was a game at first- just 2 characters that would be fun to look like for Halloween.  It didn't take them long before they soon discovered that these two fun Italian plumbers were also part of a video game.  I caved and got a Wii, partly because I was feeling nostalgic and was looking forward to reliving playing Mario myself but also thought that it would be harmless fun for my boys.  What I didn't expect was the obsession that would soon take over.  The first thing they want to do in the morning is play Mario, I more than once had to unplug the console from the TV to get them the stop.  My boys even sometimes refer to themselves as Mario and Luigi.  Mommy guilt has firmly set in.  What have I done?  How could I let it get this far?  Last weekend I wasn't feeling very well and I have to admit that I turned on the video game and I was able to stay in bed and relax a bit while they played... Mommy guilt.
The truth is that I don't think that video games are all bad.  I think they help kids learn that practice make perfect and to persevere until they get it.  The trouble is they are so attractive to kids that it can often take over and it's all that they want to do.  I came across the following article from Circle of Mom: 8 Limits Make Video Games Good Your Kids by Sharon Silver. Reading it was such a life-saver for me.  It helped me realize that I could allow them to play the games but still find a balance with the rest of their life.  I especially liked the 3 rules that the author outlined:

1. Frustration = taking a break, like it or not.
2. Not Sharing = timers are used to make sure things stay fair.
3. Negotiations or begging for more time = no play for 24 hours.
They are simple, easy for kids of all ages to understand and clear.  I can now allow my boys to play with a little less Mommy guilt knowing that there are limits.  I also try to vary the games up like the author suggested so that I can try to make sure that some play time is a little more educational or active at times.
Things are not perfect, as I am writing this my youngest is begging to play video games but at least I can be a little bit reassured that it's a bit more controlled.  

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