Over on the Huffington Post, Rachel Mosteller is wondering if some parents are now raising mini-addicts – a worry raised by seeing a computer (and collection of games) being given on a fourth birthday. This leads to some reflection on an evident lack of moderation and parental guidance in the use of technology. For her own children, Rachel wants them to “learn to use these items in moderation while still enjoying the non-technical side of life.”

Sensible enough, and hardly controversial.

What got me though was the story related in one of the story’s comments:

I’m having that problem with my nephew. He’s 6 years old and tops the charts in Call Of Duty 4. His little hand is stretching across the keyboard to precisely pull off moves. The problem is that’s all the thinks about now. He hasn’t been going to sleep lately.

I don’t know where to begin.

5 thoughts on “Mini-Addicts

  1. Cathy

    My jaw actually hung open reading that comment…
    I’ll ‘fess up. I work in education in virtual worlds. I was also the only Mom on the street that didn’t have a Nintendo in the house when my kids were growing up. (I just didn’t want to negotiate the whining and arguments.)
    One of the greatest gifts I ever (unintentionally) gave my kids was an un-landscaped backyard. It was pure unscripted imagination. It usually looked like some sort of kid-built shanty town. I don’t regret it. The other gift? Reading to them every night. (Books were everywhere.)
    I’m still thinking about the implications of that statement…

  2. Callan

    I think it’s indicative of the passion the child can muster.

    I’ve heard of young kids/teens painting for most of the night instead of sleeping.

    That he’s passionate about the game is not a problem – its a boon. What’s really a problem is that the game is so well designed to engender passion, while pursuits like painting or gardening or something constructive in the real world have really, really crappy design that does not feed the flame of passion readily.

    Rather than decrying video games, see how they feed passion, then try and apply how they do it to actually constructive activities.

    After all, what would the point be of taking your kid off something he’s passionate about, to sit there with nothing to be passionate about?

  3. Daniel Livingstone

    Personally I think that is a skewed and optimistic view.
    I’m no longer of an age when my occasional far-too-late-for-my-own-good game sessions could be considered “indicative of the passion the child can muster”.
    Even if it was painting, being involved in something to the extent that “He hasn’t been going to sleep lately” – especially for a very young child – is indicative of some serious issues, IMHO.

    “I’ve heard of young kids/teens painting for most of the night instead of sleeping.”
    There is a big difference between six year olds and teens.

    In terms of the comment “Rather than decrying video games, see how they feed passion, then try and apply how they do it to actually constructive activities.” – I guess this is the idea behind a lot of game based learning. In this blog I write a lot about game-based learning, and recognize that games have potential to engage and interest children and support learning and creativity.

    I also believe that this is a clear example of problem gaming – where gaming is no longer a healthy part of someones life, but is likely to cause problems (such as behavioural ones, loss of sleep for a start…)

  4. Callan

    There are two subjects here – that childs problem gaming, and using the good aspects of the games design to make constructive activities compelling. I’m not condoning the former by looking at what positive things we can draw from the situation.


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