Holiday Gift Giving: My Nintendo Switch Quandary
I have a seven year-old son. He’s a typical, happy, well-adjusted kid whose life - beyond family - consists of school, sports and friends. I really enjoy being a mother to him and to his credit, he is a pretty easy kid to raise. It doesn’t hurt, mind you, that he has four older siblings who broke mom in beforehand.
Yup, being a seasoned mother definitely has its perks, including being much calmer in the job. That said, there is one area of it that still has me perplexed and that is the amount of screen time, specifically, computer and video gaming time, I should allow my son at his young age.
The fact is, having been in children’s entertainment earlier in my career, I am well aware of the damaging effects of too much time in front of the tube or box. Because of this, I have held a rather stringent line with regards, which my son truly hasn’t seemed to mind as he tends to be more of an outdoorsy kid anyway. It was only last year, for example, that I allowed Santa Claus to bring him a computer for Christmas.
Since that point, however, he has expanded his aptitude and taste for online entertainment as well as gaming with his friends (at their homes), pushing me to a crossroads that I have successfully avoided up till now. Namely, do I or do I not buy him his very own Nintendo Switch for Christmas 2017, further bolstering the bottom line of an industry that collected $30.4 billion from parents of kids just like mine in 2016 in the United States alone?
After much soul-searching and some proactive reading, including this fabulous article by LearningWorks for Kids “How Video Games Can Improve Social Emotional Learning, Resilience, and Positive Psychology Skills,”
updating my knowledge on the benefits of screen time that I had not known before, I decided to take another large leap forward in my son’s and my tech entertainment home-life and greenlight the idea in my head.
I’ve since purchased the gift and really feel good about it, knowing full well that the positives of doing so - increased resilience, connectedness, control, gratitude, and more as outlined in the aforementioned article - enhanced by my continued monitoring of his play will only help him to flourish in his life as opposed to detract from his development of which I previously feared. Needless-to-say, my older kids are thrilled too as the struggle of what to buy their little brother for Christmas has since been removed for them as well. Can you say “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe?”
If you haven’t read the LearningWorks for Kids article I noted above and you find yourself in the same position as I did (or even if you don’t but are a parent), I suggest you read it. It will put your mind at ease when it comes to your children and video entertainment. This isn’t to say that you no longer need to keep tabs on the quality and quantity of what they are doing when engaged. It just means that you can stop sweating when it comes to preoccupying yourself with the monsters or anti-social couch potatoes you are creating by allowing them to play five minutes of Splatoon 2 past the sound of the buzzer going off in your head.
In other words, you can calm down and adopt a more rational perspective on the whole matter. Take it as sound advice from this fifty year-old, rather broken-in mother and remove this particular stressor from your gift-giving list. You can reassign it later when you see the price tag that comes along with the giving such healthy, joy-filled, fun, an descapism entertainment. Ho-ho-ho!