This is something that has been on my mind for quite some time now. I have often wondered what is a suitable age for kids to start gaming of any sort.
The main reason I wonder about this is because having been an avid gamer for many years, going way back to the GameBoy days, and eventually leading to Xbox, which was my preferred platform for gaming, I was without a doubt at a certain point obsessed with playing my Xbox. In fact I was so obsessed to the point where I even had the logo tattooed on my upper arm! There was definitely a particular period in my life where everything revolved around the latest game. I play on my Xbox every day, and would often play well into the night, and then of course I’d have little sleep and have to be up early the next dat to go to work.
The biggest issue with gaming for me was that I found, as an adult, it was often frustrating, annoying and just plain irritating, especially if things didn’t go to plan it, and this would often put me in a bad mood, especially if the game hadn’t saved properly or there was an issue with getting past a particular point in the game. This could make me very bad tempered.
So about three or so weeks ago my six year old twin girls started playing Animal Crossing on the Nintendo DS. This got me thinking a lot more about what an appropriate age is for kids to start gaming.
Initially the girls were absolutely fine about playing the game, but then all of sudden as soon as they woke up they were looking for the Nintendo to start playing Animal Crossing before they’d even had breakfast. This has really bothered me and it reminded of myself and how obsessive gaming can be.
The other morning the girls were taking it in turns to play and I was sitting in the middle of them when M did something on the game, and the screen just went blank. It instantly wound her up, and I could see her slowly going into meltdown. Thankfully the game came back on and a meltdown was averted, but then about 10 minutes later R was playing her game and she did something wrong, and unfortunately a meltdown came with tears and anger.
This really actually upset me and I thought to myself yes, at six years old, they are too young for gaming of any sort, and the reason being is that it can be frustrating and very annoying for an adult, but children at six years old are not simply not capable emotionally of dealing with that kind of frustration. It’s time for the Nintendo DS to go away for a few years I think.
Of course that doesn’t mean that we will stop them using some form of technology because of course we will, but in a controlled environment by us. The world of technology is their world and they must embrace it because it will be very important in their lives. It’s all about how much they use it and I think a gradual introduction is vital in my humble opinion.
After I wrote this article I was chatting in general to my 19 year old son and he mentioned to me that he gets a lot of back and neck pain. Which he is convinced is down to playing Xbox since he was about 11 years old, sometimes for hours on end. I’m not sure myself, but you are bent over playing and the neck and upper back certainly take a pounding, when you are gaming. So it’s totally feasible that it could cause long term pain in that area of the body. It’s definitely food for thought.
I would love to know your thoughts.