One of the first columns I ever wrote was about technology and the balance I was hoping to strike with my kids using it. That was a little more than five years ago and, wow, have things changed in that time.
At the time, my girls were 2 and 3 years old and mainly watching videos and playing simple games. As the years progressed, their videos changed from watching people play with toys (thank goodness) to “famous” YouTubers playing video games. While I wasn’t sure if this was a whole lot better than their original viewing habits, it has led them down a path I don’t mind at all.
The first real computer game the girls played was Roblox. My oldest started in the game and before long she was creating her own theme parks. At the parks she had to select which rides she wanted, collect money and then wait until her funds were up enough to expand the park. Those early parks were much more simple than the extravagant destinations she can whip up now.
My youngest liked the challenge games where she had to get from one place to another with obstacles in her way. I would be lying if I said we never had any tears when things weren’t going her way but with a little help from her sister, or even her parents sometimes, we usually got her to the next level.
I also did my research on the games they were playing and found there were certain activities I should keep my kids away from. The role playing games where you play with other people in a town setting I found could lead to some adult situations, so we steered clear of those.
The next game the girls took on and still play now is Minecraft. I had heard of the game just through popular culture but didn’t really know a whole lot about it.
It is similar to Roblox but has more building and creating involved in the play. To me it seems like a more complex computer version of Legos. The girls are not allowed to play with anyone I do not approve of, which is about three people, but they can play together, which they think is really fun.
While the old saying was video games would rot your brain, I really have found the opposite. The girls take what they are doing in the game and begin creating it in real life. I don’t know how many cardboard boxes I have had to keep around for them to create their houses or building or whatever they thought up to make. My oldest daughter has also taken to origami to create things she has seen in the games.
I was also concerned about the amount of screen time they would request daily. But as we have expanded from iPods to the computer, I have found the girls are really good at regulating themselves. Yes, I do keep track and make sure they aren’t on too long, but they seem to play for a while, then look for another source of entertainment whether it be a game or just using their imaginations.
Another thing I have learned in this time is I am quickly falling behind my kids in the advancements of technology. The idea of helping them with their games is quickly becoming more difficult and I even messed up a game one time by closing out and reopening it. My oldest daughter screamed when she saw me hit the “X,” saying she had just lost everything. I apologized and reminded her she knows way more about the inner workings of the game than I do, I only police the content. What about the good old days of control, alt, delete? I think they are far gone.
Now my kids are moving into coding, an area I know little to nothing about, but the things they are creating are amazing. I just hope to be able to give them the platforms to continue their learning, wherever it may lead them.
Contact Jamee A. Pierson at firstname.lastname@example.org