By: Alexx Carnathan
Toddlers playing video games, it’s a reasonably new concept, one that Nintendo, Microsoft, and Playstation have willingly coaxed into existence. Parents and toddlers did not ask for video games like “Just Dance Kids 2” for the Wii, “Kinect Disneyland Adventures” for the Xbox, and “The Penguins of Madagascar: Dr. Blowhole Returns Again!” for the PS3. These games were thought up by the videogaming industries to market to a new group of willing customers. The only problem is that these customers have a much larger control over the market than their parents anticipated.
I am personally all for a game of learning or sheer entertainment every once and a while for children, but how young is too young to start playing video games? When browsing through playstation’s website I actually found a setting that you could turn on for “Early Childhood” for kids 6 and under. What child needs to play video games at such a young age, and how will this affect them later on in life?
Parents are supposed to be the ones to teach children to sing the alphabet, but instead parents are leaving the games to teach their children the basics for them. The Nintendo website markets to kids at the early age of 3. With 3 titles for the Wii to teach your children to count, speak, move, and even read. This may sound appealing for the working mother, but like everything else in the world, if you do choose for your child to indulge in the fad of video games, do it in moderation. Parents are almost encouraged to leave the teaching up to the video games, instead of having quality and bonding time with their children.
I am not a parent myself, so I know that I cannot speak from personal experience, but I have talked to other parents, and most of them seem to be ignorant and un-phased by this wave of gaming. But then if this is true for most of the parents out there, how come the market for children is getting so much larger? Video games for children started occurring around 2007 with the enterprise “Leap Frog” owned by Apple. They were simple handheld games that weren’t very long and only had a couple of small games to choose from. Now there is a Leap Frog 2, a Leap Pad, a Leap Frog Connect website, and even their own Leap Frog TAG (Talented and Gifted) Reading groups in some schools.
While perusing a Toys R’ Us/Babies R’ Us for gifting ideas for my soon to be niece or nephew, I overheard a conversation between a young boy around 4 years old and their father. The child wanted a game called “Pictionary”, I’m sure that almost everyone is familiar with that game… as a board game. The father argued with the son for a couple minutes before finally giving in to the boy’s whining. This seems typical for any child’s behavior, whine until you get something. The only thing that angered me was the fact that I knew that the same game was on the other side of the isle for a much cheaper price, and yet both the father and the boy didn’t even think to look for it there. Proving that gaming is becoming more and more a part of our children’s life whether we like it or not, it’s up to the parents to determine how much.