Beach Days and Video Games: Can They Mix at Grandma’s House? By Pepps Collins
The giant green-eyed serpent slithers over the battlefield whipping its tail madly at the hoards of tiny warriors below. The weary fighters reunite in order to elect a new captain, and to review what is left of their weaponry. They are in the battle of their lives, in a foreign kingdom rich in beauty and in treasure. Are you witnessing the newest sci-fi release? No, you are in the middle of a computer game scenario; you are in the land of virtual reality.
The above describes the intrigue that attracts a young person to play online video games for hours. But it can wreak havoc on a family vacation. “I just don’t understand how my daughter allows my grandchildren to sit and play on their devices like that”, stated Barbara of Murrells Inlet SC. “They come here to spend vacation with us and bring their video game equipment along.” “The first thing they ask me is if they can use my computer to play a game!” What do you do when your guests are staring at a screen instead of talking with you, or instead of playing outside?
Setting boundaries from the first day can really help; simple rules that are easy to follow are essential. Always clear the rules with the parent first if they are visiting too. The rules can be as simple as: “No violent or harmful games will be played at Grandma’s house” Or “No playing of video games at the kitchen table.” Lastly, if it is OK with the parents, games may be allowed but only after the outing for the day takes place. There may be no harm in winding down at the end of a beach day with a quiet game before dinner.
Next, designate a place to put hand held games so that they are stowed away when not in use. This way they won’t be as tempted to play if the equipment is not strewn all over the house. “I found an old basket. The kids put their gaming devices, wires, cords and controllers in the basket when they were not using them. It worked great!”
Thirdly, try not to worry. Most children who play video or computer games do not watch as much TV like previous generations. Video and computer games have taken the place of the TV in many of the homes. “I prefer the video games over TV shows now-a -days explained Barbara’s daughter. “The TV shows and even the commercials have such adult messages that I would rather the kids play the computer games.” Many parents carefully screen the games their children use. “I only allow the kids to play games that are educational.” Computer games and hand held entertainment systems allow children to use their intelligence, creativity and competitiveness. It is a safe activity (as long as the games aren’t violent) where they can travel to imaginary lands, enjoy an adventure, exercise their brain, and lose the fight without losing face.
Once the visits to the beach start and the collection of shells begin, the hand held games may lose their appeal. Providing a fun craft, or a trip to a local farm to pick berries or vegetables for dinner may keep the children from thinking about their on-screen games. Taking in a new adventure like fishing, kayaking or paddle boarding may be just the thing to keep the kids entertained. How about a walk on the beach at night with a flashlight to find ghost crabs?
It’s important to keep the same standards all week, that way your vacation will go smoothly. Expect the same behaviors as if the video games were never in the home. Simple requests like “I’d love it if you would look at grandma when I talk to you,” or “Please, help Grandpa takeout the garbage” is very important. Having the children assist with light chores such as setting the table is helpful in keeping vacation time peaceful. Make sure the devices are off when the conversation is on!
Lastly, sit down with your grandchildren when they are enjoying their hand held devices, or when they are on the computer and see what the games are all about. Your interest in their activities may give them an opportunity to share with you why gaming is so appealing to them. You may realize that it is not as bad as you previously thought. Now, back to that battle against the green-eyed serpent….The band of warriors elected your grandson to lead them as the next captain, now how do you feel about that!