Torn on buying a games console...

(64 Posts)
ElphabaTheGreen Mon 15-Feb-21 06:10:22

I have two DSs - 8yo and 6yo.

Their current screen time is an hour of TV in the morning so that DH and I can get ready for work. They then get half an hour in the afternoon on the computer or on a spare iPad we have with heavy parental controls on it, but only after homework and instrument practice is done. They usually spend their time using coding apps to create their own games or school related stuff like Reading Eggs, Get Epic or Maths Prodigy. They get a bit of extra time if they’re doing something like Microbit or Raspberry Pi with their dad as he’s teaching them proper programming and circuit-building. DH has zero interest in games consoles and can’t see why I’m going around in circles about it - he can’t see any point in them.

Pre-Covid they had limited access to a games console at their school breakfast club, so I had my guilt assuaged that they knew their way around Minecraft and FIFA because of this but it wasn’t something I had to police. They at least didn’t look like complete know-nothings around their friends.

Obviously this is now currently not happening and they won’t be going back to breakfast club after lockdown for various reasons.

They both want a games console. I am perfectly happy with the amount of screen time they get and DO NOT want something else I have to bargain and negotiate with them about - it’s why they’ve never had their own tablets. They’re creative and terrific at entertaining themselves - on the rare occasion they claim to be bored, they’ve found themselves something to do within less than 30 seconds and I don’t want this to turn into begging for gaming time, which I’m pretty sure it would. Outside of Covid, they also have lots of activities like dancing, gymnastics, music and swimming that I want to get them to easily, without having to prise a controller out of their protesting hands.

Conversely, I’m fully aware that gaming is how kids today socialise. Two of DS1’s closest friends ‘meet’ regularly via Switch to play MarioKart together and that makes me feel a little sorry for DS1. I don’t know how much I’m affecting their social interaction in holding out on a console - DS1’s teacher describes him as ‘everyone’s friend’ and he gets along with absolutely everyone so it seems OK for now but I don’t want him to get excluded because his parents are ‘old fashioned’.

Also for context - I’m an ex-gamer. I feel like I wasted hours/days/weeks/months of my teens and twenties parked in front of a console and I do not want my bright, energetic boys heading the same way. I’d also rather not have a console in the house as I bordered on having an addiction and I’d rather not have the temptation quite frankly (although playing a bit of Kart with my DSs also has some appeal...).

Thoughts??

OP’s posts: |
Jessica2477 Mon 15-Feb-21 07:38:59

As a gamer myself, I plan on letting my DD play on consoles when she's old enough. She wouldn't be able to avoid them with the amount of different consoles we have in our house 😂 Would they listen to you if you said they can have a console if they still keep up woth all their other activities without arguments?

I've spent a lot of time gaming since being a kid and I personally don't feel like it was a waste of time for me. I enjoyed it, I met lifelong friends through games, and I also met my partner by working at a video game company 😊 It also inspired me from a young age to learn about how games are made which helped me get a job in the industry. You mentioned your kids learn coding and make their own games which is amazing! A good game coder will never be out of a job and can earn a lot of money if they chose to go down that career path one day 😊 Working in the industry in general is a really good place to be right now and a very secure job with games being more popular than ever.

I think gaming can also be a wonderful tool to encourage creativity and learn skills such as teamwork, strategy and problem solving depending on the game! 😊

Morgan12 Mon 15-Feb-21 07:42:00

I think you are hindering your 8 year olds social interaction for sure.

My DS is 8 and all his friends have consoles. That's where they have all been meeting during lockdown. They talk and play games like hide and seek virtually.

I'd be worried if my DS was left out of this. It's honestly been a god send during these winter months especially. And I know he won't be as anxious about returning to school because of this.

Morgan12 Mon 15-Feb-21 07:44:29

Have to agree with everything Jessica said also. Gaming isn't bad. At all. Games like Minecraft are actually really good for kids problem solving skills etc.

The world is different from when we were little. The ones without consoles will be left out 100%. That's just the way it is.

Faultymain5 Mon 15-Feb-21 07:55:45

They’re behaviour will change once you get consoles. It just will. Once they start playing games they’ll only want to do that, especially when it’s new.

Even with tons of restrictions, they may or may not focus on gaming a little too much.

The idea that you should do this because other children their age have them is weird to me. Many of my DS’s cohorts had phones at 9. But we’re still picked up by their parents at the school gate. I couldn’t see the point and he got a phone at 11 in preparation for further travel to high school. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing, if what you are doing is working for you.

My DS is 18 with a gaming addiction (on a waiting list at a clinic) and we had restrictions like 2 hours Saturdays and Sunday’s no game play during the week. He would go downstairs in the middle of the night to circumvent the rules. I enjoy gaming too. I don’t however need to game.

You need to decide based on what you know about your children now. GCSEs were hard with the console in the house.

cariadlet Mon 15-Feb-21 07:56:28

I have a dd who has never been interested so haven't had to deal with this as a parent but as a primary school teacher, I've seen both the good and bad side of it.

My school was recently closed for one day. The next day, those who are still coming in to school were excitedly talking about making snowballs and snowmen. Apart from one boy who arrived at school looking very tired and said that he hadn't been out in the snow because he'd been too busy playing on his xbox.

On the other hand, lots of children use their games consoles in a very social way. They have been invaluable in helping those children stuck at home during lockdown to stay in touch with their friends.

I think that games consoles are not intrinsically good or bad; they are just tools. Their effects can be good, bad or mixed, depending on how they are used. If you have strict time limits and ensure that your children also take part in plenty of other activities, then they would be good to have.

WaveOverMe Mon 15-Feb-21 07:59:55

They’re behaviour will change once you get consoles. It just will. Once they start playing games they’ll only want to do that, especially when it’s new

Not my experience at all.

We have a switch for similarly aged children and it has been a great addition to the home. We play animal crossing together, and recently bought ring fit adventure.

We play as a family, or DC can have half an hour or so playing on their own after school if we're still working.

They know they can't have loads of time on it and it has never been an issue. I was very hesitant about getting one for all the reasons you describe, but it has been great.

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Bluntness100 Mon 15-Feb-21 08:02:55

I don’t know why some folks think gaming is so bad. As long as you teach kids self regulation it’s great for them. Why make your kids the odd ones out. Why is playing on their own with something non electronic apparantly better for them in some mysterious way?

missrm Mon 15-Feb-21 08:07:16

Don't do it. Honestly. It's a massive pain in the arse. They become so obsessed with it.

Bluntness100 Mon 15-Feb-21 08:08:41

missrm

Don't do it. Honestly. It's a massive pain in the arse. They become so obsessed with it.

This didn’t happen with my daughter or a close friends two sons. They all love it, but were able to self regulate. Most kids can.

Sleepingdogs12 Mon 15-Feb-21 08:13:02

I refused a gaming console for my oldest as I didn't really get how important it was for socialising with friends ,as parents we aren't interested in gaming and just heard the horror stories. ( this was a while ago) . I regretted it later as he already struggled with friends. We bought one for the household in the end , yes it meant managing the time and what games are OK etc but that is part of life now. We didn't buy it at 6 or 8 but I guess times have moved on.

Namechangeforthis88 Mon 15-Feb-21 08:15:23

I think you could safely hold off for a bit longer. DS is 12, we don't have a console and he's not really interested. Like yours, he does some coding projects and he does Minecraft and has been known to call a pal and meet them in Minecraft. I came close to just rushing out to the internet and getting a console during lockdown 1, after chatting to another mum and realising how much other kids were connecting over Fortnite etc. But the other mum pointed out that for most of them it's maybe an hour out of the day, apart from one or two kids who were on it constantly. It has sometimes led to silly spats over what happened in a game.

Faultymain5 Mon 15-Feb-21 08:16:50

WaveOverMe

*They’re behaviour will change once you get consoles. It just will. Once they start playing games they’ll only want to do that, especially when it’s new*

Not my experience at all.

We have a switch for similarly aged children and it has been a great addition to the home. We play animal crossing together, and recently bought ring fit adventure.

We play as a family, or DC can have half an hour or so playing on their own after school if we're still working.

They know they can't have loads of time on it and it has never been an issue. I was very hesitant about getting one for all the reasons you describe, but it has been great.

Puss and Dawg don’t have the same luck, as my mother used to say. I gave my experience and told OP she needs to base her decision on what she knows about her kids.

I will say they don’t create special clinics and have podcasts with advice on the BBC if things aren’t a problem for some people. Not everyone is the same and not everyone will react the same. But since Ive experienced the negative and many have not. I’m providing that view point.

Note I have not advised OP should not get consoles.

Namechangeforthis88 Mon 15-Feb-21 08:18:06

Meant to add, at primary and how at high school, DS has fallen in with pals who are a bit like him. I would say not the football and Fortnite lads, they all seem to have slightly quirky, creative interests. Possibly a shade geeky. Perhaps this has contributed to him not being bothered about a games console.

SandSeaBeach Mon 15-Feb-21 08:18:35

50:50 split kids with and without consoles in my family. Largely anecdotal; but those that have had consoles have not performed as well at gcse/a-level hence why we never got one (mainly because the revision time battles that went on with parents and kids addicted to the consoles). Another factor (for us) - participation in sport is a big thing in our family and again seen a direct correlation with inactivity and lack of participation in those that have consoles in our family... No difference is contentment during lockdown. Nor in success of friendship groups. So I don’t buy the socialising argument.

nicky2512 Mon 15-Feb-21 08:22:17

It’s like all things. It totally depends on the child. My ds had no interest in gaming. He then got a Play station at age 11 for one game he fancied. At 15 he still uses that same console for two games whenever he fancies which could be maybe once a week at most. It’s just not his thing.
I’ve no doubt if it was I would be prising him off it.

Jessica2477 Mon 15-Feb-21 08:28:54

SandSeaBeach

50:50 split kids with and without consoles in my family. Largely anecdotal; but those that have had consoles have not performed as well at gcse/a-level hence why we never got one (mainly because the revision time battles that went on with parents and kids addicted to the consoles). Another factor (for us) - participation in sport is a big thing in our family and again seen a direct correlation with inactivity and lack of participation in those that have consoles in our family... No difference is contentment during lockdown. Nor in success of friendship groups. So I don’t buy the socialising argument.

Just to add my experience here, me and my partner have always gamed a lot from being kids and I loved dance, gymnastics, and netball. My partner has always loved football and going to the gym. We both did well at school! My brother also games a lot and does karate and competitive skating. He didn't do very well at school. My best friend is incredibly inelegant and did amazingly well at school and has always gamed. Never been interested in sport. I've personally never seen a correlation between gaming and school result/sports participation 😊

balzamico Mon 15-Feb-21 08:33:07

My ds is 13, he's had a Xbox for several years and while it has caused some arguments it has definitely helped him stay in touch and make friends, never more so than during lockdown.
I think these days it's akin to not having a tv would have been when I was growing up - you may be a better person for it but you are also v different to your peers and no teen wants that.

ElphabaTheGreen Mon 15-Feb-21 08:33:11

So a completely mixed bag of responses...

For further background, both my DSs are in school as we're both key workers. I have no concerns that they're missing out socially over lockdown as they see a quite a few of their friends face to face every day. They don't need a console to substitute this.

'Why is playing on their own with something non electronic apparantly better for them in some mysterious way?'

So many, many reasons...reading, Lego, fort building, trampoline, kicking a ball around the back garden, playing an instrument, writing, drawing...all solo activities but so much more developmentally valuable than gaming. So much more. I won't do the Googling for you to find the easily available evidence for this.

But I also don't discount the social benefits. Very torn.

OP’s posts: |
BertieBotts Mon 15-Feb-21 08:35:19

It doesn't sound like either of you want one.

Maybe look into it again when the eldest is about 12?

You can put time limits on them these days very easily which are hard to override.

BertieBotts Mon 15-Feb-21 08:36:25

The reason I say 12 is because IME that's the age DS1 has really got something out of playing remotely with friends.

He did use it before then but now he's older he is using it a bit more proactively.

Faultymain5 Mon 15-Feb-21 08:51:09

@Jessica2477 what is the definition of gaming a lot, to you?

Faultymain5 Mon 15-Feb-21 08:54:24

balzamico

My ds is 13, he's had a Xbox for several years and while it has caused some arguments it has definitely helped him stay in touch and make friends, never more so than during lockdown.
I think these days it's akin to not having a tv would have been when I was growing up - you may be a better person for it but you are also v different to your peers and no teen wants that.

This is what I don’t get. When I was a teen, I only wanted to be different from the majority. Yes you have “your people”, but this need to be like everyone else I find very weird. It just seems like fitting in is the only goal today. It strikes me as sad. For lack of a better word

FizzingWhizzbee123 Mon 15-Feb-21 10:10:42

Frankly, it sounds like you don’t want one in the house. Put it off a bit longer. Saying no now doesn’t have to mean no forever. See how you feel as lockdown eases and the weather improves. Might be easier to introduce reasonably when there are more options to distract them rather than in the middle of a winter lockdown.

ElphabaTheGreen Mon 15-Feb-21 10:36:43

No, I definitely don’t want one in the house - that would be my preference completely but I could be being completely unreasonable to two 2021 kids. I’m interested in those that are saying introduce one from the age of about 12, as I have been wondering if that’s the way to go. I do think it’s something of an inevitability - 8 and 6 just seem awfully young when they’re so easily entertained by loads of other stuff, but I do feel they’re very much in the minority with their peers. I’m interested in hearing if I am underestimating the social impact (damage?) in this day and age and also interested in how others with DCs of the same age do regulate console use. I cannot stand the idea of using screen time as currency for good behaviour or, as I’ve said above, adding in something else I have to bargain and fight with them over. Neither of those things are an issue without a console, and I’m bloody happier for it, but I don’t want to trade that off for turning them into social pariahs in the near future or just fuelling a future gaming addiction because I denied them when they were younger and they missed the window to learn self-regulation.

OP’s posts: |

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