Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Digital Hospitality

I've been having a debate with myself over whether or not digital entertainment is conducive to developing relationships.  At first glance it would seem obvious that face to face interactions would be much more beneficial. However, when it comes to siblings I can see my kids watching each other play video games, helping each other out and being relatively agreeable (not to mention quiet). Until computer time is over and they have to experience imagination play.  They are really good at role playing, dramatizations and teamwork.  Unfortunately it only lasts for a few moments before they explode into an intense battle.  Someone wouldn't follow the rules, someone ignored someone else or hit them or past a harsh judgement that resulted in name calling and bullying.  They had time to create a royal empire but their enjoyment is short lived.
So my question is: Is it worth it?  As a parent do I promote free play when it always ends in chaos?  Again, the obvious answer is yes.  They need to develop creativity, social skills and competence in dealing with reality, but the reality is they have violent tendencies and no control over their aggression. Wouldn't it be better to just sit around a screen, quietly and politely helping each other?
Last night is a prime example.  We had friends over and when told to go play they ended up watching each other play video games.  It was great for the moms, we got to talk and relax without any interference.  But, we wanted the kids to interact so we turned off the screens.  Not more than five minutes later the boys were screaming murder, the girls were running crying to their rooms, and I was wiping up a bloody nose.  At times like these I find it hard to convince myself that non-digital play is more healthy.
Some advice please?  And I don't want to hear any arguments in support of video games.