If boys are part of your life, video games are too.
I don’t think I know a parent (or educator) of boys who doesn’t worry about boys and video game usage. Sure,we want our kids to have fun, and more than any other generation, we get that video games are fun. We grew up with Atari and ColecoVision and Nintendo; many of us still play video games, either alongside our kids or online. (Candy Crush aficionados, I’m looking at you!) But still…there’s something about the way our boys obsess over Minecraft that makes us uneasy. Something about the fact that’s it’s not at all uncommon to see young boys sitting side-by-side, staring at separate screens. And something about those scary news reports that suggest video game violence and addiction are responsible for what’s wrong with boys today.
The American Academy of Pediatrics continues to endorse a two-hour screen limit, per day, per kid over two years of age. But many parents (myself included) find that two-hour limit to be arbitrary and impractical. Still, deep in our souls, we wonder Are video games bad for my son? and How much is too much? We wonder if any good at all will come of their playing time, or if the boys are completely, totally wasting their time. We worry about boys who don’t seem to care about anything other than video games — and we worry about our boys’ futures.
Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time, there was a boy who loved two things: sports and video games. This boy spent virtually all of this time doing one or the other. He played basketball and watched a lot of sports on TV, but he also played a lot of video games. I mean, a lot. It wasn’t at all uncommon for this boy to spend a beautiful summer day inside, playing video games.
The boy grew up. And after a series of not-quite-right jobs, he finally found a job he loved — as a video game designer. The boy who loved sports and video games became a man who designed sports video games. (Ever heard of 2K5 Baseball? That was his first game.) He also became an upstanding citizen, a fine athlete and a responsible husband and father.
That boy is Greg Wondra, one of my brothers. He now works for Nickelodeon as a video game designer. We’ve had numerous talks about the pros and cons of video games, and I’ve asked him to share some of his thoughts with Building Boys. He was happy to oblige. He’s produced some videos about boys and video games exclusively for BuildingBoys; you can find them on our YouTube channel. Greg’s videos cover everything from what it’s like to be a video game designer to what he thinks are appropriate video game limits for kids. You might even want to share some of his videos with your boys.
Still have questions about boys and video games? Leave it in the comments below. We’ll address it in a future blog post or video.
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