Is there life beyond video games?

My oldest son discovered video games when he was in diapers. He watched his cousins play with their friends at a family party and was fascinated. The following Christmas we purchased an educational game system for him. After a few years, he moved on to the popular “teen” gaming consoles.

I admit that I appreciated video games during long car rides and waiting-room visits. I have even brought hand-held games into Church just to keep my young sons quiet for an hour. I was less enthused when we traveled to Florida to visit theme parks. The hotel room we rented included a popular video game system. The first day of our trip, the boys alternated their time between the pool and the hotel room, where their favorite characters jumped, ran and flew through colorful worlds in search of something I will never understand. The second day we visited one of the many parks Orlando offers. Three hours after we arrived, my eldest son asked when we were leaving. The question shocked me considering he appeared to be enjoying himself. To my horror, he requested that we return to the room so he could try to beat one of the worlds he had struggled to conquer the day before.

I decided at that moment to ban video games from my house forever. I stuck with the decision . . . for three whole days. On day four, my new job required that I complete a one-hour, on-line training session. Somehow, I had to figure out a way to complete the training without leaving the boys unattended. The only thing I knew would work was the video games hidden in my bedroom closet. I removed them that afternoon and plugged the system into the television located in my office. I completed the training without interruption.

I realized that day it was unfair to ban video games. At the same time, it could not rule our lives. I had to find a happy medium. Therefore, I came up with a family fun schedule. We called it Katie’s Caper. Each family member was invited to choose one activity for the family to play together (video games were not an approved activity. We incorporated free time into our day. The boys watched television or played video games during free time.

Katie’s Caper is no longer popular with the boys, however, they do participate every once in a while. I pretend the boys agree to the caper activities because family time is important to them. I accept that they participate just to receive free time without hearing me complain.


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