Parental Disapproval is Harmful

A love of video games

In response to a mom who said her two children yearned to play video games ten hours a day, Clare Kirkpatrick wrote:

Sounds wonderful! I'd love to have ten hours a day to spend doing something I love! So much learning can come from total immersion in something that really makes our hearts sing. And it can only lead to a stronger relationship with the person who is helping you to do it with genuine joy and interest in your passion.

If you, as the parent, disapprove, your children will feel a sense of shame while they play, which will taint any learning that could have come from it.

Yesses with disapproval take are not helpful to children for so many reasons. They damage your relationship a little bit, they get in the way of deep, genuine joy and, therefore, learning. Imagine what it feels like to do something you love when someone you love disapproves of it.

And if you did limit it...what do you think they'll get out of whatever else they're doing while their mind is on the next chance to play their game and their annoyance with you for getting in the way of it?

What is it you actually fear about them playing video games as much as they want? I'm fairly certain there are plenty of parents here who would be able to dispel those fears with actual stories of actual children who are absolutely awesome (happy, engaged, knowledgeable, kind, generous) and have had plenty of opportunity for hours and hours of video game playing, myself included.

Rachel Marie wrote, August 11, 2015:

My son wants to be a professional gamer, maybe a you-tuber that posts game reviews and videos. Many people make a living doing this. He truly enjoys playing all sorts of games, and spends much of his days doing so. Whether he ends up with a career in it or not, why shouldn't he be able to do it as much as he feels he needs to? If it was karate, gymnastics, swimming, baseball, football, basketball, or any other professional sport that a child might be training for something more in the future, most parents wouldn't bat an eye at 10 hour a day practices.

I see it no different then immersing yourself in any other hobby that may (or may not) lead to a career someday. And if the interest level is not high enough to be a career-level, then the 10 hour days are unlikely to last. My son has had many interests over the years. When he was scootering, he wanted to do that professionally one day. He spent all the daylight hours practicing tricks and flips and what have you. All day. Then 6 months later he decided it wasn't something he was interested in anymore, so he moved on to something else. He did that with biking for maybe a month (figured that one out quickly), and many other interests over the years.

Gaming has been around for about two years now with him. He is very passionate about it, and has learned an incredible amount of history, science, reading, writing, typing, math (lots of math), and life skills from it. He has made friends, learned social skills. He has learned the downside of cheating the system, and the thrill of winning without using shortcuts. He has learned about dedication and commitment. I am very proud that he has a passion, and thrilled he has time to explore it in a way most kids do not get the opportunity to.

Janine wrote on August 12, 2015:
My just-turned-13-yr-old son announced proudly to me a few days ago that he has recently qualified as a Counter strike global elite player!

He is too young to enter tournaments and play for prize money, for now, but he can and is honing his skills in online tournaments and being appreciated and applauded for his skills, and even attracting buyers for some of the swords and other things he wins and unlocks (another gamer paid him 60 euros the other day for a sword smile emoticon real money for a virtual sword, amazing!

He said to me after proudly announcing the global elite player achievement "will be ashamed of me mum if I become a pro gamer and enter tournaments? I mean, it's not really the normal thing mums are proud of"...... I hugged him so tight and said 'Are you serious!' Yes! ! I am so proud of you right now! Proud for your determination focus and hardwork at getting to this point in you're gaming, I am proud of your passion and persistence and dedication, and most of all for the absolute joy that beams out from you when you talk about your latest game play and when you show me a new game and new character and where the adventure is taking you."

I see all of my sons early interests talents and passions in his gaming, he has always loved dressing up - often making his own swords and belts and ammo holders, his acting skills and comedic talents and timing are being used in abundance, and again honed as he gets to try out different areas of this talent with using different voices and impressions when playing, and he has garnered a bit of a fan base for his youtube videos with comments like 'Man you are so funny please keep on doing what you're doing you are great!'. And of course the stories and adventures and immersion into these games are where the deep joy is for him - he is in those games, he is that guy dressed in that gear with those swords and bows, he is handsome and strong (and funny) and defeating the monsters and aliens and bad guys and he loves it!

One my most favourite things when he was younger was watching him play in the garden with a sword, all dressed up as Jack Sparrow or Spiderman fighting invisible enemies, leaping from the climbing frame to the deck—running rolling and flying! It was one of the reasons I truly knew he was telling me the absolute truth when he said he hated school and that he felt trapped and wanted to be home, I used to look out the window when he was at school and see that empty garden and I knew I wanted for him to be able to fight those monsters and aliens for as long as he wanted unhindered and unrestricted and untimed! And without feeling that he should be doing something else with his time....

So he did come home in the end (after a regrettably long time of searching and eventually finding unschooling and then the courage...) and he did play in the garden again (and he still does, and still makes swords) but through myself and my partner being so determined to fully 'get' unschooling, and fast, he was also allowed to find and freely play in the wonderful world of gaming and take all that passion and joy, imagination and fun with him, and be a part of these wonderful stories and adventures so full of learning that it still takes him by surprise even, things like knowing the name of the desert Las Vegas is in from playing 'Fallout'. After 3 yrs of unschooling he is so very almost free of the feeling that he should be doing something else...and that he is not wasting his time....that programming was deep....and came from all areas regrettably.

He is doing so much more than 'just playing' video games! So much more than 'wasting his time'! And it astounds me everyday the learning connections and pathways, but mostly the joy. The absolute joy he gets from it, and for me to see that once little boy able to continue to feel and have that joy and freedom—to be helping to keep it alive and well for him! His amazing imagination, wonder and curiosity that is taking him daily to so many wonderful places, that has not been quelled and even snuffed out completely by control, frustration, mind-numbing boredom, limits and FEARS, instead it is all travelling with him into adolescence and adulthood, and hopefully alive and well his whole life, and as a bonus perhaps even earning from it.

Angela Booth, August 15, 2015:
My kids are unschooled their whole lives. They love video games, as well as the park, dinner games, baths, skateboarding, etc. I have never controlled the games. I did wonder, at first, about the Call of Duty and GTA, but I felt/feel that they should be able to pursue that interest. They excel at them. We had so much fun playing them.They get so excited! They are so engaged! They learn so, so, much unquantifiable (by me) stuff. They are happy. They play as much and as little as they want. They are also very cuddly, warm, spontaneous, smart, pensive, well-rounded, humorous, interested, and interesting human beings. The video games have not hindered their humanity or their connectedness to what's around them at all. They tend to be very sad when we have to kill mosquitos and flies. They love life. The video games are fun. They are not real. The kids know the difference.

Focus, Hobbies, Obsessions more about video games the harm that comes from negativity in general