Video/online games carry a lot of negative connotation amongst parents, in general. Is that always true? If yes, why is it the most worried thing on parent’s minds and yet, every household has them? Aren’t these digital phenomena strengthening the cognitive and emotional abilities in children, who are otherwise bored? The “Leapfrog”, “Digital storytelling” books, Minecraft, Super Mario – are they keeping children occupied and complementing the parenting role or are they compounding to the busy schedules of parental lives? The worry lies in “excessive” usage or taking aid of these e-devices spending their entire active time and seeking refuge in this digital world. It is not just the addiction, but the comfort these games are providing making kids binge on games, videos that is perturbing. These extreme cases depict lack of required parental control & family time.
The underlying causations focus towards “observational learning” in kids & “protecting the self” & the way parents are struggling between the simple yet mysterious “operant conditioning” methods. Peer pressure, marketing strategies, parent’s affluence, changing lifestyles creating this long divide between positive parenting and positive reinforcement which is leading towards the causal ramifications: good & bad and might be raising shy, angry, anxious and incompetent kids.
It’s amazing to see how fast kids learn, adapt to certain video games like Minecraft™, Terraria™, Stickman™ etc. The visual-motor areas light up in their brains with sympathetic nervous system kicking in even at bedtime. These games take them to an imaginary world aiming to defeat monsters / hidden villains. These devices and games make their entry into family rooms to mark these kids’ successes, to be more up to date with technology and to be more hands on with latest trends. Slowly, they take over the control, control on kids’ minds and control on Parenting. Not in the authoritative style of parenting but in other styles, it does give parents a break they want, helping them get on with their chores, helping them spend their waiting times at hospitals, shopping malls all to go smooth, pursue their interests and help them plan their time the way they intend to. Playing video games, spending times on tabs is a necessity in these modern times but making these a substitute for parental care and concern doesn’t produce positive results in the long run. Effective time-management and a wise coordination between parents/carers and children is vital. It should not let the parent-child bonding slip from positive reinforcement to an upsetting family relations bringing in “punishments” or “response costs”.
The secure attachment in a parent-child relation, which was supposed to raise socially-competent, positive & confident kids is somewhere being disturbed in between. Here, strangers are getting closer and parents are pushed to a distance. The scenario should be, kids should get back to the parent when there is a stranger but this cycle is disappearing raising anger and anxiousness in children when the devices are put away. Again, parents must regain their space in their children’s minds and hearts. So, perhaps these strangers might be allowed for a predetermined time! These games and devices could be given as part of doing their assignments, over their leisure time and kids be put on agreeable terms on how much time they are let to enjoy. Parents should give their children a clear idea about these privileges and children must appreciate their freedom and time they are approved of.
Children should be well-informed about the moderate usage of the e-devices. They need the social skills which could be developed over the social gatherings minus these devices. Their innocent minds should not be under the control of “hidden” billion dollar video game makers/markets. Yet their devices enhance the creativity, expose their imaginary world of possibilities bringing the best in them. Their positivities are underrated due to the excessive usage of these only because they dominate parents ability to control and direct their children’s brains. So, parenting must be positive and wise mixed with appropriate control and increased support, just the authoritative way!