I thought my last column – about parents playing video games with their kids — would net at least one negative e-mail from readers. Video games can be a controversial topic. And when you add kids into the mix? The gloves come off.
Turns out, plenty of you out there think playing video games with kids is just fine. Every single piece of e-mail that I received was filled with enthusiasm and anecdotes about game times you’ve had as a parent — or with your parent.
Miram Mosher wrote that her father introduced her to games when she was a little girl, beginning with an Atari system. “I'm now 25 and we still play games together. I think it's a wonderful way to interact with your children and help them distinguish between reality and fiction.”
Jared Fox, of Salt Lake City, said that playing “LEGO Star Wars” with his 4-year-old son offers plenty of “teachable moments.”
“The story has led to discussions of why some people are mean or nice and how it makes others feel,” he wrote in an e-mail.
Scott Martin, a father of four from Seattle, Wash., wrote that he likes to play “Rock Band” with his children. “I would rather us gather all together for an intense ‘Rock Band’ concert than have everyone disappear into their rooms.”
“Guitar Hero” also earned a few nods from readers. Pat Rea, a parent and teacher, said he plays the game with his 18-year-old son when he’s back from college.
“We all sit down, play ‘Guitar Hero’ and discuss what is happening with his classes and the world in general,” he wrote. “Not only has this helped build a close relationship with my own children, it has also helped me relate to the junior high and high school students I teach.”
Jeanine, from Fairfield, Ohio, wrote that she’s been gaming with her teenage boys for years — and that contrary to the surly, anti-social “game kid” stereotype, her sons are “well-mannered, intelligent, positive young men who talk to me about subjects their friends are stunned to hear them bring up with me.”
Your e-mails also offered plenty of praise for the Wii gaming system. Winsome Green said she bought one for her two boys for Christmas — and it’s quickly become a family favorite.
“I think it is a great time for bonding and the kids will consider the parents as ‘cool,’” she wrote.
And being “cool” with your kids can feel pretty great, Daniel Amezcua, of Utah said.
“I am a legend to my kids because I have beaten all but the last level of ‘Guitar Hero’ on expert,” he said in an e-mail.
Adam Johnson, of Oak Harbor, Wash., can relate. His family plays “Rock Band,” with son on the guitar, daughter on drums, and dad as the lead singer. “It’s gotten to the point where they call me down to play: ‘Dad, we need you!’ — which is music to a father’s ears.”
But it’s not just fathers that are getting in play time. I heard from lots of moms — and even grandmas — who love playing games with their kids.
“I think that gaming with children is wonderful,” wrote Becky Hadley, who plays games with her grandson. “Children need the attention of their parents. Parents need to understand their children’s world. This is the perfect opportunity.”
And to those who think games are a waste of time? Reader Brent had this to say.
“Sure, video games can be bad ... but so can anything your kid does if you don't monitor it,” he wrote.
“A plate of pancakes by itself is not bad at all, but if that's all he eats every meal, everyday … there will be problems.”