Are you wearing a Comedy Mask, happy that your child is contentedly playing a video game and not under your feet? Or do you don the Tragedy Mask because you are acutely self-conscious that you may be limiting your child’s own creative and imaginative play by allowing videogames? No doubt you have read the ubiquitous sage advice suggesting that videogames be turned off to allow a child’s natural curiosity and creativity to develop. Yet something holds you back.
If you are a stay-at-home parent, your intrinsic need to make social connections may be assuaged vicariously through your child’s online playing. This could override any thought of creating downtime for your child to awaken to his creative impulses. Our own need for relationship building may make us more comfortable hearing them in cooperative play, even if it is virtual cooperative play. You may prefer the sound of children playing online to the quiet of their building a robot or writing a story alone.
Consider recognizing your own need for social connection, comparing it to your child’s need, and taking active steps to generate social opportunities outside of video game play. Neighborhoods across America are filled with children with “no one to play with” because potential playmates are sitting inside at their consoles.
At the very least, meeting these children may mean a new online “friend” who’s at least someone they might later run into on your block.