Both Marc Prensky‘s Don’t Bother Me Mom, I’m Learning! and Olivia and Kurt Bruner‘s Playstation Nation are aimed squarely at parents, and their recommendations to parents about how to handle video games are, not surprisingly, right in line with their personal opinions about video games. Among many other ideas for parents, Prensky recommends that parents make an effort to understand the games their children are playing, even going so far as to recommend that parents try playing some of the games with their kids. In many ways, his approach is, “They’re going to do it anyway, and it is better to understand what they are doing and how it affects them than to not understand.”
The Bruners have pretty much the opposite recommendation, basically telling parents to avoid exposing your kids to video games at all. As a replacement/alternative, they recommend “you identify five or six possible categories of interest for your child and invest the time and money necessary to explore options, trying them out until you find that perfect game, hobby, sport, book series, old television show DVD set, or whatever tickles your child’s fancy.” (Except for video games, of course.)
The pursuit of mastery, of any skill, requires a great deal of passion. To those who don’t understand the appeal of the skill being pursued, this passion often comes across as obsession. This seems to often be the case with parents and their children. As parents, we should try to encourage, or at least indulge, our kid’s passions.
If you’re having trouble getting your hands around this idea, I’ll leave you with this question and answer from teen-ager Luke Jackson:
Q: When is an obsession not an obsession?
A: When it is about football.
How unfair is that?! It seems that our society fully accepts the fact that a lot of men and boys ‘eat, sleep and breathe’ football and people seem to think that if someone doesn’t, then they are not fully male. Stupid!
Girls are lucky enough to escape this football mania but I have noticed that teenage girls have to know almost every word of every song in the charts and who sang what and who is the fittest guy going, so I suppose an AS girl (or a non-AS one) that had interests other than that is likely to experience the same difficulties as a non-football crazy boy.
I am sure that if a parent went to a doctor and said that their teenage son wouldn’t shut up about football, they would laugh and tell them that it was perfectly normal. It seems as if we all have to be the same.
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