Day 24: Family Media Detox

Jim’s update:

I take the blame for my sons’ obsessive video game habits.

Ever since I got my first Coleco Telstar tennis/hockey/handball rig for Christmas in 1977, I have had some kind of gaming going on.  A few years later it was Intellivision; later still NES.  Today, in our household, we own a PS2, XBox 360, and a Wii, along with a few personal Gameboy-type devices.  (And if I had a quarter for every quarter I dropped into arcade machines, I’d have a lot of quarters.)

In moderation, I think playing video games with my sons can be time well-spent.  But “moderation,” I’m afraid, has proven to be an elusive concept in my life on many levels, including gaming.

I read this just this morning on the DIYFather website and it reminded me why we are detoxing:

According to a recent study of 1,178 children in the US, almost 9 percent of child gamers are pathologically or clinically “addicted” to playing video games.

However, 23 percent of youth say that they have felt “addicted to video games,” with about one-third of males and a little more than one in 10 females reporting the sensation, according to the survey by Harris Interactive.

Forty-four percent of the youth 8 to 18 also reported their friends are addicted to video games, the survey said. The average child 8 to 12 plays 13 hours of video games per week, while teens age 13 to 18 year play 14 hours of video games per week, according to the survey.

These statistics raise some interesting questions. While the majority of kids who play video games don’t become addicted, what does it say about our culture when one third of our boys have felt addicted to video games? How do video games and other stimulating products prepare our kids for the future? What child, after the excitement of 14 hours of video games each week, doesn’t get bored when faced with “spending time with grandma”, or some other activity that doesn’t provide intense stimulation?

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