8 Feb 2013

Help! My Child's Addicted to Computer Games!

I'm addicted to catapult games. According to the Daily Mail, it's worse than crack cocaine. People enter the room and I don't even grunt hello. I'm in my thirties. Probably, I ought to be ashamed, and have a bit more compassion for my kids.

These games are designed to be challenging but within reach, reward you, make you feel good, make you want to do more.

It's what school aspires to, but often fails to be. Are we surprised kids find them addictive?

A lot of parents battle furiously with their kids over the time they spend gaming - fingers glued to the control, face blue with the light of a hundred zombies' brains exploding (and that's just dad). They're playing with penguins. Or world-building. Or laying down mines; or we don't even know what they're doing. Perhaps we don't actually care. It's free babysitting.

We feel guilty. We're glad to get some peace. We feel guilty again. Because our poor child is glued to the sofa / chair / floor and it looks like the zombies got out of the box and sucked out their brains. Do we look any better when we're surfing the net for five minutes that turns into an hour?

But that's not the point, is it? Consoles and computer games have got our kids in their grip. Which means they're evil. Or are they the best friend you never realised you had?

Want your child to do homework? 'Reward' them with an hour of computer time later. Want your child to practise their handwriting, do online maths, behave? 'Reward' them with an hour. Not five hours, not four, not three. Not even two. Not first thing in the morning or after lunch, not a minute before five pm, if you're feeling strong.

You're in charge right? And now you've got an unlimited supply of crack cocaine* to deal out, one tiny little piece at a time.

*do not actually give your child crack. This is a metaphor. You can find out more about metaphors here.