We are the happy owners of a Nintendo Wii. We fit the demographic to a T; the kids play a bit in the afternoon, and then Rael and I fire up Guitar Hero after hours. (I made a full confession on mywiistory.com.) All in good fun, right?
The dark side of electronic entertainment, in our house at least, is that it's too fun. I find that our basement playroom (the same room that houses the TV) has become woefully underused since the Wii moved in. It's not that my kids spend hours playing — we have a 30-minutes-of-screen-time-before-dinner rule (either TiVo or Wii), slightly relaxed on weekends. We read lots of books, play lots of board games, hang out and roughhouse, all that. The TV's off after dinner. Despite all of this, the other toys have become "boring." I'm hearing more whining and surly requests for more game time. I'm watching my kids avoid getting engaged with other projects lest they "miss" their game playing window. It's alarming.
Not every kid with a video game console at home acts this way. There are plenty who will play for a pleasantly diverting amount of time then run outside happily to ride bikes. It's just one of many things to do. Other kids, however, become almost dependent on their game time. Video game "addiction" — it's an inflammatory term, but it's not so far-off — can become a real problem. As much as my husband I enjoy playing it, I'm thinking that the only way to return some balance to my kids' notion of fun is to unplug the Wii for a while.
I'd love to hear others' experiences with video game addiction. How does game time play out in your family?