Hi! My name is Sarah, and I’m a Christian, a wife, a mom, and also an avid gamer. I love playing video games, board games, card games, and I was an athlete when I was younger as well. My husband Matt, I’ve nicknamed the Nintend-Nerd, because of his love of all things Nintendo.
With two young boys, I’ve got my hands full, and as they’ve grown I’ve become more and more determined to provide them with a healthy play environment, with both traditional toys as well as appropriate exposure and use of technology. It’s challenging, since my eldest is determined to challenge my husband for the title of family Nintend-Nerd.
Play is an integral part of growing and development, that is one of the first things I learned in my developmental psychology classes in college. It helps children learn social skills, develop dexterity, reasoning and learn ordered thinking. It is wonderful that we were created to naturally learn in a way that is also enjoyable. But play is not only for children, my husband and I have both benefited from recreation time with coworkers as well as with each other. In fact, our habit of playing games together has been very important for keeping our relationship healthy and stable, especially after having kids. Play keeps our lines of communication open, which has been pivotal in making decisions and resolving conflict, as well as providing relaxation and entertainment.
At the same time, knowing how to balance play with responsibilities, and with children, keeping play age appropriate, structured and varied is very challenging. Technology use with children, especially young children, is a pretty hot topic of debate among people. And to make matters worse, technology focused on children is a huge part of our country’s economy. Phone apps and games for toddlers on up, for example, McDonald’s has an app where you can scan your happy meal toy to access special games and activities. There are numerous television channels which cater to children 24 hours a day, including “interactive” toddler shows. (I have yet to see one of my children show any interest in interacting with one, watching them, yes, interacting, no.) And it sometimes feels hard to find toys that don’t light up, move, sing, dance or do something else. As a mother with young children, I spend hours every day playing with my kids, reading with them, encouraging them to rest and nap, and trying to keep them involved in age appropriate pursuits. And sometimes I feel like technology is a potential tool in my arsenal, and other times it feels like my children’s natural curiosity about technology works against me at every turn.
Ultimately, technology will not be going away, and it is an important part of life in American culture. And it is my husband’s and my responsibility to teach our children to live in the world as it is. And that includes modeling healthy and appropriate uses of technology both practically as well as in entertainment. And since play is the primary way of learning for children, that is the logical place to start. So does that mean that we let our kids play with technology all day? Goodness No! Tech time is is a very limited time of their day, and also something that at this stage in their lives, they only are allowed to do with us there and interacting with them. In fact I intentionally keep as much technology as possible out of their reach for most of the day, and it is a rule to not to play or watch without mommy or daddy’s permission. As they get older, the rules and limits will change, but for now that’s what we agree it appropriate.
So why am I writing this blog? Well, I was actually looking for blogs and websites that would cater to these sorts of questions and issues. I wanted places where I could see practical reviews and assessments of games and toys for family. And I wanted to read about how people parent in this tech filled world. I found parts of the puzzle, but it occurred to me that I’ll be doing this for the next 20 years anyway, so maybe I should start writing about our journey and encourage discussion. I’ll probably learn from plenty of others along the way. I can review games, toys and other activities from a mom’s perspective, as well as a gamer.
And ultimately its because my husband and I firmly believe that The family that plays together, stays together.