Confidence and Tolerance

Many forms of technology expose children to a broader community of players. They must develop confidence to be their own (Godly) person and tolerate others kindly.

A Little Byte: Socialize

942815708 23448cd769 - A Little Byte: SocializeWhich mask do you wear? Are you happy that your child is contentedly playing a videogame and not under your feet? Or sad, because you self-flagellate about allowing videogames–how they limit your child’s creative and imaginative play.

No doubt you have read ubiquitous advice suggesting that videogames or social apps be turned off to allow a child’s natural curiosity and creativity to develop. Yet something holds you back.

Here’s one example of a parent who placed boundaries and limitations around screentime. It’s about a boundary that birthed a baker. In this post from Ron Dreher at The American Conservative, he wrote about the upside of restricting online access.  

He himself was inspired by the inspiration of his daughter as she filled her free time with croissants, brioche, and a glimpse of the “possibility for her own future.” This post has the warmth of a parent’s love, not full of the rebuke so common to the topic.

If you are looking for other ideas to engage curiosity and creativity, curated lists may help you find useful learning resources for kids.

But back to socializing. If you are a stay-at-home parent (and a lot of us are during coronavirus), you may find your need to make social connections is assuaged vicariously through your child’s online playing. Satisfaction in hearing their sociable play could override your thoughts of creating downtime for your child to awaken to his creative impulses.  Basically, our own need for relationships and social outlets may make us more comfortable hearing them in cooperative play, even virtual cooperative play, rather than quietly creating something (like building a robot or writing a story).

Make decisions about your kids’ socializing and gameplay recognizing not only their social needs, but how your own are affecting how you respond to theirs.

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Tweens and Technology: Attitude to Boot

6884830379 4aaac6c5a2 - Tweens and Technology: Attitude to Boot

If your tween has been allowed to play action-adventure video games for a few hours at a time on a regular basis, you may have noticed a little residual defensiveness oozing beyond the boundaries of that arena.

As tweens begin to feel the insecurity of early adolescence, they are sensitive about receiving even subtle judgments from their peers. So they sit ‘on guard’ as they play these games.  The game environment itself is typically all about protecting virtual ‘people,’ property, and places. Combining prepubescence and the gaming environment elicits a protective need to defend themselves.

It’s a self-preservation they may forget to turn off in the relative safety of their own interactions with their family.  They may need your encouragement to “chill.”

–          Notice if they speak with you or their siblings as if they are talking with impersonal avatars.

–          Hearing too much bluster from them?  Reminding them to approach their conversations with humility and self-control may become necessary.  Help them practice civility to counter the virtual incivility that they often experience.

–          Is their growing cynicism and sarcasm wearing you thin? Do you wish they would drop their tough exterior act?   Let them know how much you appreciate when they act with sincerity, confidence and trust.

While these negative behaviors seem to be protective mechanisms in response to dealing with the online environment, they don’t translate very prettily to real life relationships.

What occurs is not a surprise, if you have paid some attention to your child’s play online.  After all, you will have noticed that a simple online mistake can bring him the wrath of an entire Minecraft server community. To him there is a lot at stake.  All the more reason to continue your efforts to draw him into diverse social contexts and interests that involve real human beings in bodily proximity.

Even if your child is an introvert, now is the age to help him gain practice and comfort level with others. Draw him toward relationships of acceptance and simple fun—ones in which he doesn’t feel so personally at risk.  Allow him the visceral feeling of safety and security with a caring family and embodied friends with whom he can laugh and talk and find acceptance.

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Photo by Andrew Becraft via Compfight