Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Issues with Electronic Entertainment

"Mom, can we play the Playstation?" Like most moms, I only hear this question a dozen times a day. Every once in a while I smile and say, "Sure." Thinking, "He's done his chores and homework and only hit his brother a couple of times, why not reward the kid?" But most of the time I curse Santa and wish the North Pole had a better return policy. Santa is the one who got us into the video game mess. Two years ago the boys wrote letters and e-mails and even prayed for a Playstation as they were the "only kids in the whole world without one." So we had a very fun Christmas morning, all faith in Santa was instantly restored (they knew their mom would never buy a Playstation), and I have been wishing we could redo that Christmas morning every day since. My boys often ask what I have against video games. The boys are good to not play violent games and they only fight over the two controllers and claim they could beat the level better than their brother every five minutes or so. Basically video game time at our house is a pretty peaceful stretch of thirty minutes where Mom can run around and catch up on chores or Facebook uninterrupted. My issues with video games (or computer games, television, texting, etc.) only comes into play when an excessive amount of time is spent on said activities. I'm afraid if I don't limit electronic time my boys won't learn to work hard and improve themselves during their time here on earth. "Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause." (i) This includes children. The best time to teach correct principles is when they are little. I want my children to learn so many things: how to interact well with others, a great knowledge of the scriptures, faith, how to be hard workers, how to serve others, how to love to read and do well in school. My list, like yours I'm sure, could go on and on. But how am I going to teach them all these things if they are so busy with school, athletics, Scouts, friends, and electronic entertainment? You'll probably agree that most of the things on my sons' lists are good activities. About the only one I want to cut back on is the electronics. Now I'm not saying the boys will never play another video game (if I tried that they'd run away to Granny's). But I might say no to the Playstation a little more often and actually stick to the thirty minute time limit. The church I belong to (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) has asked our local leaders to have fewer meetings and place less demands on families. Our general authorities have asked us to slow down and eliminate excessive extracurricular activities so we can spend more time together at home. (ii) These are wonderful ideas if the family takes advantage of that extra time to teach, love, and play with their children. But if my boys use that extra time to conquer more levels on Star Wars Battlefront and I use that extra time to surf the blogosphere, we would be better to be off playing more basketball games or doing more Scouting activities. I believe our leaders are encouraging that extra time at home so we can build better family relationships and prepare our children to succeed in an increasingly evil world. These things won't happen if we are all plugged in. So what's my solution? I have to be a more involved parent. It's easy to be a lazy Mom. Children can be endlessly entertained, they can make their own food in the microwave, and they can put themselves to sleep watching television (we've only done that a few times, promise). I have to work harder. It's hard to say no to Playstation, get myself away from my computer, and go outside to play a game of Lightning with the boys, read the latest 39 Clues book to them, see if I can finally beat them at Monopoly, or go pick up some of their friends for a fun late night. I'm so busy right now I've given up on folding laundry (it works if you just throw it all in a basket for each child and they somehow find what they want to wear), but laundry, housework, and even writing can wait. Teaching and enjoying my boys has to be the first priority. Maybe if I do a good enough job I'll only hear, "Can I play the Playstation?" five times today. (i) Doctrine and Covenants 58:27 (ii) "Good, Better, Best," by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, October, 2007

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