Christmas · Family · motherhood

Wii Bit of Caution

Wii finally have one. My generous parents bought the kids a nintendo wii for Christmas this year, and Jason’s generous parents bought the extra controllers and games. I am so happy for my kids who have wanted a Wii for a long time.

Wii put it off as long as possible because video games seem to provide unique temptation for our particular family. Somehow the combination of technology, competition, sports, and little boys makes for a lot of fun, but a lot of need for boundaries and caution.

Jason and I are going to talk about setting guidelines for having a Wii in our house while we’re here (most likely during the 6 hour car ride home). But I know many of you out there either have game systems or know others who do, so I really want to hear what boundaries, rules, guidelines you have (or have heard of) for helping little hearts not get sucked into the virtual/technological vortex.

Here are some temptations my guys have (just to help you understand where we are coming from):

1. Wii get bored…with normal, run of the mill toys and imagination play. One problem with this form of uber-entertainment (at least for my boys it is), is that everything else seems blase and boring.

2. Wii get idolatrous. I think it is true of every form of entertainment – just wish it was books or something 🙂 – but when they wake up talking about the game they’ve been playing, and the theme of every converstion somehow ends up landing on a video game, I get a bit concerned. As humans we are all created to worship, and therefore we will all worship something, for little boys it can be video games.

3.  Wii waste time. This is pretty self explanatory, but as they are getting older Jason and I are trying to battle against a perceived right to leisure and entertainment. I hate to be one of those cynical old people pointing to the new generation wagging a self righteous finger (there is nothing new under the sun)…but, my kids’ generation does seem more indulged and more entitlement oriented. I won’t pontificate on my theories why, but still we see the tendency of all of our hearts to be influenced by the philosophy of the world which is low on hard work, and big on entertainment.

And to be fair and forthright, I want to tell you about my own temptations regarding this Wii entering the house.

1. Wii Nanny. As a mom I usually get a huge break when my kids are so pleasantly occupied, therefore it is difficult not to let our allotted time run over. Right now we have a certain amount of time the boys are allowed some sort of gaming (so far it has been hand held games, not a big system). It is already a temptation to let this time get prolonged especially when the weather is nasty and they can’t go outside. The Wii could become a virtual nanny for me, and I do not want that!

2.  Wii manipulate. Here’s the other temptation: use the Wii as a bribing tool. You can play once you finish…  or  If you fight we will turn it off… I know that this is a complete cop out from dealing with the heart issues that arise from having a gaming system in the house. I also know that I am using their own idolatry to serve my own idols of peace, quiet, and order. I hate to do this, but it is a temptation.

Okay, your turn. What wisdom can you offer regarding bringing a Wii into our family?

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7 thoughts on “Wii Bit of Caution

  1. Our children were actually gifted with a Wii a couple of years ago somewhat against our wishes. Our concerns were very similar to yours — though I’d say your point about “Wii manipulate” is something I hadn’t thought of.

    But in general, to avoid the issues you raise, we simply don’t play the Wii that often. This holiday season, as a special treat, they’ve played a few times; but in general, it comes out at most 1-2x in a given month. Similarly, they at most watch a video once in a week.

    Part of the reason for this is simple: we find that when they watch videos or play video games, they (esp. the boys) have way too much (destructive) energy afterwards. So it’s actually simpler not to have them play it. And we’re working hard to challenge our kids as they get older to make *constructive* use of their energy and time. Amazing, how they’ll get into drawing, reading, and other thing that are most constructive/imaginative when *forced* to do so.

    As for avoiding obsession with the Wii, up until a couple of months ago, we only had the original “Wii Sports” game that came with it. Since then, we’ve recently purchased the Wii Fit balance board and for Christmas the boys received Mario Kart and an extra controller. By limiting (severely some might say) the amount of playing time, and the number of games, the Wii is treated not as a “normal part of life” (read: entitlement), but a special treat. I think this helps to battle against many of the concerns you raise.

  2. I’m looking forward to what others have to say here. I don’t particularly have much to offer. I would lean toward the avoid the tempation, but I know in the long run that doesn’t always serve our children the best as they need to learn discernment, self control, etc. while still under our care/headship as parents.

    I will say that my brother brought his Wii fit home to my mom’s for our time together and we have had a blast as a family with it.

    I can see how the particular temptations you face are likely temptations we might all face, so I think this will be a good post to dialogue about. Can’t wait to see what comments people chime in with.

  3. I’m so glad you brought this up. We don’t have a system, just computer games. But that is enough to see all the same issues come to light at our house too. Interestingly enough, my daughter doesn’t seem to have any of the same issues with gaming, just my son. Maybe it’s more of a boy thing?

    As for limits, boundaries, etc, right now, Evan is allowed to play 20 min. a day. We set a timer and he is expected to turn it off when the timer goes off. There are some days when he doesn’t have time to play. But the short time span seems to keep things under control with the heart issues. When he has played for longer that that, he seems to get more sucked in.

    We spent quite a bit of time in years past helping him to see how addictive gaming can be, what signs to look for, and attitudes to watch for (like not wanting to play with his sister because he “needed” to finish a level). There have been times where we took the privilege away completely for a period of time because we saw that he wasn’t giving enough attention to school work, having a poor relationship with his sister, or not being able to turn if off when we asked with a good attitude.

    I hope you post what you and Jason decide to do in your home with the wii. It’s always helpful for me to get another person’s perspective on this issue.

  4. The good news I found with Wii is that it doesn’t seem to leave my Joel with destructive images to re-enact and there are more games that I think girls appreciate (at least moreso than other game systems). I actually have a Wii bit of fun with the sports games and the Lego Star Wars is cute. With him, we tend to thank him for obeying right away when we tell him to get off it. When he doesn’t, we have to talk about the whys and the consequences. I have to admit to not monitoring his time well, but honestly he doesn’t get much on it . Between school and homework, he’s pretty tired. I don’t see a problem with using time on it as a reward, but I might say to kids your guys’ age that they have to read one page of a book for every minute they’re on Wii, and they have to read the book first! It’s funny how many times I told my kids to read first to get xbox or other privileges, and they got sucked into the book!

  5. I love the way you brought our attention to the fact that parents Wii-semble (I had to) their children in idolatry. Whether it’s a Wii or a new car, we all have the same tendency. Thanks for mentioning that; as parents, Wii (again) we need to remember this.

  6. I have never been a fan of video games personally. The Wii is the first one that has come out that I told Dennis I would not mind having. So to solve all your delimas you can just tell the kids you have decided to share God love with others and you think they should give the Wii to a family that does not have one. I am totally kidding. I am very excited for your family and I too see nothing wrong with using time on it as a reward or even as a family night activity every now and then. The bowling can be just as active as real bowling and you don’t have to rent shoes. At your kids age I say as long as their chores and school work are done whats the harm in a little daily Wii time. I do like the book reading idea Zoanna had as well. As long as you are not witnessing any Wii related patterns of sin.

  7. Our family has run the gamut with Wii. We got it in the summer and basically let the kids play with it as long as they wanted – it was originally a great thing to keep the kids occupied during long, hot summer days when everything else was “boring”. But it definitely became an idol for our oldest son (8), not so much our daughter, and not the younger kids who only played for a few minutes and then lost interest. So we started imposing time limits, with much resistance. Then we only allowed play as a family on weekends, not during the week when schoolwork should be a priority. This worked ok, but still fueled obsession and fostered bad attitudes. The obsession was worse with games like Super Mario Galaxy that continued from session to session and had multiple “worlds” to get through, as opposed to the basic sports games that are done and then you start over next time. A year and a half later, this is where we are – we play only occasionally. We use it as a nice “sometime” diversion. This seems to be working, and we are finding that we can play for limited, infrequent periods without fueling the obsession.

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