Me vs. screens

February 29, 2012

A few weeks ago my son was invited to a birthday party. The evite said the theme was Plants vs. Zombies. Huh? So I Googled it. And sure enough, there were pea shooter plants on the screen battling not-too-scary zombies for domination of a front yard. Strangely, it was kind of cute.

Of course I didn’t want my son to feel left out at the party, so I downloaded the one-hour demo of Plants vs. Zombies – just so he could know what it was all about. That was my first step onto the slippery, double black diamond slope that is computer games. A one-hour demo of battling zombies leads to desperate pleas from my son: “I just got to the nighttime part and I have to see what zombies show up next! … You have to download it! … I’ll pay for it with my own money! … Please!”

Parents have struggled with this forever: How do you keep your child on a socially level playing field with the other children without succumbing to a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses struggle? In the second-grade crowd of boys, computer games are what they talk about, what they mimic and how they connect. Cowboys vs. Indians are a thing of the past, and Plants vs. Zombies rules the schoolyard (right there with Harry Potter and Star Wars).

While I don’t want digital dominance in our house, I do see the value in playing some computer games. Plants vs. Zombies gets his problem-solving, strategic gears going in a fun and funny way.

I did download Plants vs. Zombies, and he did pay for it with his own money. He says he’s saving up for a NintendoDS, but at this rate he’ll be 16 before he has enough for that. Lucky me!

One Response to “Me vs. screens”

  1. Great post. I hear this sort of story from parents all the time (though I’ve never heard of this website.) It is a dilemma. In the tech classes I teach, I try to introduce lots of edutainment sites to students so they pick those over these others. With some, it works; others not so much. You can see my list (http://askatechteacher.wordpress.com/great-websites-for-kids/). Maybe your munchkin will find something he likes.

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