I just read something that blew my mind – and made me want to blow my stack as well.
A mom I know only peripherally is contemplating getting her 6-yr-old son a DS for Christmas this year. She asked for input from several other moms. I expressed my opinion, which is as follows (bear in mind, I was MUCH more tactful in my response to her):
Over my dead body! As a mom, I think it’s a travesty that parents are getting their young children DSes. I’m against it for so many reasons:
1) 6-yr-olds don’t take care of their stuff. I’m sorry, but I don’t care HOW responsible you think your 6-yr-old is, they are not responsible enough to take care of a DS. If you have to lay down rules like, “it can’t go to a friend’s house,” or “if you break the stylus you pay for a new one,” then they aren’t responsible enough to have a DS.
2) That single-player game is removing even more human interaction from that kid’s life. Rather than have kids play with each other at after-school programs, I’ve walked into my childrens’ after-school care and seen kids just sitting on benches, getting early carpal tunnel syndrome playing their DSes all by themselves. They aren’t playing catch, they aren’t jumping rope, they aren’t learning how to fit in socially with other kids.
3) Those things become babysitters. Look, I’m not a perfect parent, and have never claimed to be. I am absolutely guilty of setting my kids in front of the TV so that I can get something done. I’m guilty of putting on movies on long car trips so I can have a bit of peace in the car. But the difference is that when my kids are watching TV, 9 times out of 10 they get up and walk away and go into their play room for 10-15 minutes to play together and then come back. And the sound from the movies we watch in the car are played in the entire car (as opposed to headphones on the kids) so that we can still have conversations with each other while it’s playing. Giving a DS to a 6-yr-old is just another convenient way of getting a kid to calm down, be quiet, and stop interrupting. But it’s detrimental because it once again takes away interaction with other people in the vicinity.
Those are my opinions, and I hold them quite strongly. I’ve told both CB and CG that I won’t even consider letting them have a personal gaming console until they are 10 years old, and even then it’s highly doubtful that they’ll get one.
But here’s the statement that got me in the original question posed by the acquaintance mom. She said “It’s either a DS or a laptop.”
A laptop. FOR A SIX YEAR OLD BOY. Am I the only one that thinks that’s insane? Her debate was between a $150 DS and a $600 LAPTOP? Seriously?
Don’t get me started on computers for kids. I’m positively archaic on that one (read: they will NOT have computers in their rooms when they get older – all computers will be used in public spaces in the house, and with heavy monitoring at all times). They also won’t have TVs in their rooms. They’ll be lucky to get cell phones when they become teens, and even then it’ll be with limited plans that basically only allow them to call ME and a handful of their friends that I know. Yeah, call me a meanie.
This rant is leading nowhere, so I’ll end it now. And if you have given your kid a DS, don’t think that I’m slamming on you. The opinions in this post are mine, and mine alone. I don’t judge you (or at least I try not to) for giving your 1st or 2nd grader a DS. It’s just that my choice for my family is that they are too young for those things, that they need to remain involved with family for as long as possible (trust me, the time for “leave me alone!” will come soon enough that I don’t need to exacerbate it by getting the silent treatment from a Mario-playing, 6-yr-old gaming addict whose thumbs are permanently damaged from hitting those tiny buttons on the DS all day long), and that even contemplating getting a $600 laptop for a 6-yr-old is the first step towards entitlement syndrome at 16 (“C’mon mom, you gave me a laptop when I was SIX – surely you can get me a brand new car now that I’m sixteen!”).