Are you a game-cop mom? I was…..
I hated that job. I was always having to enforce the game rules at our house and no one was happy. It seemed that I was always “blowing the whistle” on too much gaming, not obeying time limits and bad attitudes. It was a very unpopular full-time job, 24/7, and everyone thought I was mean and unreasonable. I didn’t mind that so much, but I was not good at my job of gaming cop mom. I failed. It was very challenging and I was not prepared. One day it hit me: I could retire from my position.
I learned that gaming was a real addiction and that gaming was not good for a young child’s brain development as dopamine and other brain chemicals are released when they play, causing them to crave it more. I learned about the lure of gaming and about the physical, mental and emotional. I also learned that it was my responsibility to provide the structure my children needed to develop childhood activities for healthy growth and development. Gaming was not working in our house. We were not winning at real life. So I took off my game cop mom hat and I didn’t just hang it up, I threw it away! I pulled the plug on our games and threw them away.
I have been on a long journey with our oldest; I have come back to tell you what happened along the way and why we are choosing a different path for our younger twin boys. We are game-free now and we are loving it! What that means is that video games are not part of my kids to-do list and we don’t allow video games to be played in our home. We are not legalistic about it and if they want to play at their friend’s house or the dentist’s office that is fine. We simply don’t have them in our home or allow online play on our computers. We do enjoy technology and all the wonderful innovations it brings. We have TVs and laptops and iPhones and I love learning all the new technology (all except for the new TV remote of course!). But I can’t manage the conflict that gaming and excess screen time brings to our family. And I am happy to share with you that my kids are actually thriving without all of it. They did not shrivel up and die. They are not strange or weird! They are, in fact, very social and well-rounded. And they are loud and dirty and fast and they sometimes smell. They are outside a lot and they have discovered many, many things that they would have missed if they traded their prime play time for gaming and screens. And, by the way, it is a trade. While some media use may be neutral for some, screen time in general is not the same as experiencing the real three-dimensional world; screen time does replace very important childhood activities and milestones.
Mom, follow your instincts and listen to your gut feelings. Protect your child’s childhood. If you think your child may have a problem with technology or gaming, they probably do.
Here I will share some tips and ideas for life in a game-free home with young children. We do watch movies together and enjoy other technology; we are game-free not technology/media-free. We will guide them on the computer and we will equip them for even more technology use when they are older. But, for now we will protect their childhood and open their world much more than a handheld device can hold. I hope to be an encouragement to all the moms out there who wish to also retire from their job as game cop mom!