We’re a pretty tech savvy family.
My husband relies on technology to get work done from home after dinner and bedtimes (rather than staying late at the office),and I’m a blogger with various social media accounts.
We own two iPads, iPhones, Kindles, several laptops, and a desktop.
All of that being said, we only recently started letting Henry play games/apps online. In fact, I had to first give him a lesson in how to use a computer mouse because at almost 6 years old, he genuinely had no idea how to work the thing.
I’ve been holding off on online games and video games as best I can. We allow the occasional app on the iPad, but even that’s pretty rare. Like, maybe once a week or so.
I’m not anti-video games.
I grew up in the 80′s. I logged a ridiculous number of hours on my boxy Nintendo racing Princess Toadstool around imaginary worlds, jumping on DuckTurtle things, and trying to catch flashing stars of invincibility.
So I get it. I do.
Every summer, at Clearlake, we hold Super Mario Bros. 3 tournaments, and Henry was allowed to play for the first time ever. It was fun getting to share something from our childhood with our own kids.
But as a mom, here’s why I’m still holding gaming at arm’s length:
It’s just another thing to manage.
“Ten more minutes!” ”Not until you get your chores done!” ”Put it away, that’s been long enough.” ”No, not now. You’ve already played today.”
I feel like a bulk of my day is spent saying no, negotiating, and managing. Sweets, snacks, TV time. I just really can’t stomach the idea of yet another thing to keep track of. Another thing to be the bad guy about. Another thing to argue and whine and…ugh. Because even when gaming is finally allowed, you better believe it won’t be a free-for-all hours on end. And then there’s the games…having to keep track of what is appropriate for our home…it’s just a lot.
But Henry’s getting older. Friends at school are playing games, and while I am happy to not follow the crowd, I do believe it’s important to have some cultural relevancy. (Some of you disagree, and that’s okay.)
Plus, we are finding that Jill may benefit from educational games/apps. Holding a pencil may be hard for her…sounding out words difficult…but pointing on a screen is within her abilities and might prove a Godsend for some of her special needs and even her ability to effectively communicate with us.
We’ve dipped our toes into the gaming world by buying Henry an old Leapster 2 from a friend. He has no idea it’s like 10 years old, and the technology is obsolete, so don’t tell him, okay? Now that he isn’t napping, but the rest of the kids do, it gives him a special activity to do during Quiet Time.
While I don’t automatically give something the green light simply because the packaging screams “Educational!” , I thought that if I was going to let him play games, he might as well be getting something out of it while he’s blowing up Storm Troopers or whatever it is.
Plus, all of the games offered are pretty much appropriate. There are no bloody zombies wandering around teaching ABCs, no realistic war games reinforcing addition and subtraction. It’s all pretty cartoony and kid friendly. I like that it keeps me from having to micro manage too deeply.
So now we’re starting to think about something like this for Jill. She wouldn’t be able to control the characters with a handheld system like this, but a tablet would work perfectly, and we all know how much girl loves her Tag Reader.
That being said, the idea of buying a $500+ tablet for a four year old is probably not within my comfort level. For a lot of reasons.
When I heard about the LeapPad Ultra, I was intrigued. It’s kid friendly, cost effective, and keeps me from having to worry too much about inappropriate content. Plus, it’s a lot less delicate for the inevitable dropping that will happen.
Another cool feature is that you can set it up for several kids…so Jill could have her own screen/apps of easier games and Lucy and Henry could have harder/more advanced games without there being confusion and frustration of choosing a game outside of each child’s abilities. And it also has wi-fi that will only connect to kid-safe websites…I’m not sure how that works exactly, but for Henry, that’s a pretty cool feature for homeschool days when we want to look into more detailed stuff and when I want to keep him occupied, yet still doing something “schoolish” while I’m showering or loading the dishwasher or whatever.
Funny thing is, while researching the device for this sponsored post, I pretty much sold myself. It really does seem like a good tool primarily for Jill, but also for the others when she’s not using it. Although LeapFrog is compensating me for this post, I am not provided with a LeapPad Ultra, so I am genuinely considering it…maybe a joint/multi family member Christmas gift?
How do you manage the topic of gaming and computer time in your home? What age did you allow games? Any tips on how to make it easier to manage? Do your kids own their own tablet? Do you ahve a child with special needs that benefits from a tablet device? Help!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.