“What would you and Dad think about me selling my X-Box plus all my games and upgrading to the new iPhone?” Teen Take-Out floated days before leaving to Branson and Kanakuk-Golf.
It took every ounce of my being to stop an excited, “Are you kidding?!! YES!! YES!! Oh, my word, YES!!” from escaping my lips.
(I really don’t like that machine.)
Instead I nonchalantly replied, “Well, honey. I think that just might be a great idea. If I were you, I’d talk to Dad and see if he might be up for that.”
“Do you think he’d go for it?”
(YES!!! Oh, YES I do!!) “I’m not sure, you’d just need to ask… But you’ll still have to pay the monthly fee.” Feigned indifference – one of the many intricate dance moves involved in effective parent/teen communication.
“Yeah, I know. … I’m not sure I could sell it. I’ve invested a lot of time and money in my games.”
“You have, I know. But think about all the benefits of ditching that thing. You can always go to your friends’ houses and play together – in person.”
It’s not that the machine itself is bad. It’s the amount of time and lack of human interaction. Let’s just say, if, by some chance, he played only an hour a day. That’s seven hours each week… wasted. And we all know, one hour would be a good number compared to actual amount kids play. Okay, so the same can be said of watching most television. And I’d have to agree. But the X-Box games that intrigue these gaming teenagers are not bland, non-event interactions. No, they tend toward harsh war games where the goal is to kill as many enemies as possible. They “strategize” and work with on-line friends to win and climb the levels ladders. (We’ve, as much as we can, limited his on-line friends to those we know in person.)
TTO’s contemplation has brought into conversation the mind-waste pervading youth culture today. Anything to steer kids in the direction of non-critical thinking and toward an “entertain-me” attitude. Not only video games, but also television (moving more and more toward short clip/quick scene change/reality t.v.) and books. Forget classic literature which welcomes complex sentence structure and rich, deep, vivid thought provoking paragraphs. (One might have to think.) Instead, let’s opt for simple sentence structure and leading, easy story lines. Really nothing more than mind candy.
Beyond structure, the content begs commentary. Excessive violence, vampires and werwolves every direction we turn, plus some odd fascination with zombies and creepy after-life permeate youth entertainment. Just yesterday, my two youngest wanted to hit Game Stop after a little Chic-Fil-A action. I looked like such a goob darting between floor and shelf displays acting as a human shield between the 3-year old and sick images (dead people, scantily clad cartoon hussies, red-eyed/pale zombies hungrily ready to devour a game’s hero) on box covers and ads.
Have you noticed my “Geek Alert” sign yet? My kids roll their eyes and tolerate my weirdness. But, give me a break. Sell your creepy games. But why do you have to force feed the folks who prefer Mario, Lego Starwars and Wii games to stare at the stuff every time we turn around??!!
Okay … off the soap box. Sorry :)
I’m just excited (very excited) that on his own volition, TTO might choose to stop playing. He’s thinking about it (praying about it) while he’s at camp. I couldn’t stop myself from quoting a little Philippians 4 — thinking on things that are noble, right, lovely, pure, admirable and excellent — before our conversation ended. (Between movies, t.v. shows and games, I hit this one often. And, yes, I get a “here she goes again” eye roll each time.)
Jon & I knew the elements involved when we invited the games into our home… deciding that, if played in moderation, we could work through the negatives. So, we haven’t played our parent card and banned the thing. For our kid, it’s so much more about the friend interaction than the games themselves. And, even though TTO can be stubborn as all get out, push back on most every decision and be seen sporting a bad attitude, he tends to make good decisions. He has super nice friends, makes good decisions, chooses to take the high road, opts for honesty, is loyal as the day is long, and has even been rumored to be a protective, caring brother. The guy is a great kid… a bit of a diamond in the rough at the moment, but he’ll get there.
Just his thinking about punting the gaming system opens a window of opportunity. I need to be ready to help him find a positive alternative to X-Box. This could be the big challenge since he doesn’t really enjoy being around the other kids (definitely a creepy teen thing) and they don’t like his wrestling style of interaction with them.
So, I’m on a mission. To follow Todd Rapp’s advice from earlier this week and say “yes” more than I say “no”, to help the kid find moderation, to find video games he likes that we can play with him, to pounce of his moment of wisdom without seeming judgmental or controlling. Good thing I have a couple days until he gets home.
Thanks for letting me vent :) … and thanks for walking the road with me.