We’ve got some rules in our house that we actually enforce. One of them is “No video games during the week.” The boys have come to accept this rule, but it usually means that on Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday they want to do nothing but play video games. We also have a “no video games before lunch” rule. So the actual time spent may be relatively small in relation to the week, but the amount of space in their minds occupied by the games is very large. Time was not kept by the position of the sun in the sky or by the phase of the moon. Time was kept by marking how many days were left until the three day gaming binge. Obsession is a dangerous thing, and these kids aren’t even ten yet. So we decided to prove to them that there are other things to do than sit in front of the TV with a controller.
We designated February as “No Video Games Month.” When met with the expected protests we explained that at least February is the shortest month of the year. We could have picked March. We could have picked JULY, when they’re home from school (we still may do that one).
So here we are, one week into our screen-free month (no TV either) and what’s been happening? I can tell you one thing that hasn’t been happening. Much to our surprise we haven’t heard one complaint. There the game systems sit, in full view of the children (and parents), and I haven’t heard one question about leniency on the rule. Isaac has, however, delved into Zelda strategy guides as if he’s living vicariously through them. I’ve hid those now, because I find it a bit creepy.
Jonathan is summarily unfazed by the whole idea. While he loves the idea of being free to play video games, in truth he could give or take them. He often plays for a while then puts the controller down and does something else. In this case he’s gotten hooked on one of their Christmas presents from my mother, the Smart Globe from the Discovery Store.
He’s played with it so much that when they ask him to locate countries on the globe he can do it pretty quickly. He was even helping Isaac do it (and mocking him at the same time). So far I’d say that this experiment is a success, and it’s one we’ll have to repeat in the future.