Peer Pressure and Computer Games

Regular readers will know that we believe in basic childhood fun and allowing children to play and explore away from the computer, technology and tv as much as possible. However, we realise that technology has its place, it’s part of society and has a lot to offer children.

Game controller

My son BB (aged 7) has recently started using the internet a little and I am impressed that his desire to use it has been for looking up information about subjects he’s studying at school, like the Titanic and the Great fire of London.

I have no problem with this, it’s great to see him interested and desperate to learn more. It’s a fantastic resource and he’s loving it. We do like to ensure he’s not on it too long and only on child friendly sites.

However, computers are more than just a resource to children, there is a whole world out there of games etc which my son has not had insight into yet.

I have never been interested in computer games and neither has his dad, hence BB has not been exposed to them. I have not encouraged computer games or introduced them to him. I feel there is more to childhood than a computer game, though I’m sure it will happen in time. At what age do children start playing these games?

When I asked BB what his friends talk about at school, he said ‘minecraft’. He didn’t understand about minecraft, or what it even was. He has never asked me about it, so I have not really considered introducing it.

On the one hand I am quite pleased he has no idea about minecraft, as it means he is playing, having fun exploring and being a child, but on the other hand, is he becoming isolated from his peers? He is unable to join in their conversations and be part of their discussions.

Am I isolating my son by not introducing these games to him?

I want my son to feel confident socially and not feel like the odd one out or alone as he’s different to his friends, but I also want my son to have a proper childhood for as long as possible. I fear introducing computer games has potential to rob him of some of his childhood.

On the flip side, by doing this, am I robbing him of friendships, by making him different to everyone else? I know what it’s like not to be ‘modern’ and not to have knowledge of the latest craze. It can make you feel like an outsider and diminish your confidence socially. I don’t want BB to feel like this.

I am not against minecraft (in moderation), I believe it can be good for encouraging problem solving and creativity and children seem to love it. BB has never asked about computer games or requested them, so it has not been an issue.

Even now he is not requesting computer games or minecraft, but realising that his friends all talk about minecraft has made me question if this is the right thing for him socially? Should we bow to peer pressure or should we encourage independence, but at the risk of isolation?

Do your children play computer games? At what age did they start? Do you feel it is good for them?

12 thoughts on “Peer Pressure and Computer Games”

  1. Oh my word, you’ve articulated exactly how I feel on this one. We don’t even have a TV, so quite a few things pass us by because we don’t watch adverts, and I have the same worries.

    My daughter is six in July, and I think asking about Minecraft is just around the corner tbh…

  2. i agree with you Karen, computer games have their place but i think they should be used sparingly! i was saying to my hubby last night i cant wait until the weather is warmer so we can be out and about more.

    Over the last couple of cold months we’ve had more screen time than normal and I don’t like it! my son plays computer games occasionally and he did so once he asked about them, it wasn’t something I introduced.

    I think computer games offer a bit of escapism and fun but i think they are used far too much nowadays.

  3. Great post – so important to find the balance. I think you are doing a great job making sure your kids get lots of screen-free time and that allowing some restricted time on computer games is fine.

    It sounds like BB isn’t too bothered by not knowing about Minecraft (I don’t know much about it either!) so if he’s happy I’d keep doing what you’re doing. He sounds like he is confident with being individual which is great.

  4. Its a very tricky one to balance. I’ve noticed my daughter take interest in it because friends and cousin’s use them around her which is very difficult when your trying to stay away from it. ( she’s only 3 1/2)

    I think games can wait they have plenty of time when their older to explore that.

    Your doing a fab job and hope you find the balance. Its sad to see so many young children glued to screens. X

  5. Isaac started playing Minecraft just after his 7th birthday and we’re having to enforce moderation to ensure he doesn’t allow it to overtake his life – like many other kids, he finds it addictive.

    There are definitely positives to allowing him to play – social, dexterity, game-playing and planning skills etc – but I’m very conscious about not pandering to his desire to play for “just a few minutes more”.

    As with everything, it’s all about maintaining balance for me.

  6. I feel this very same way and even though Buba is only four I worry he will start school in September and be the one left out because we don’t have games in the house and they play soccer outside like we used to as kids and on bikes instead of on the computer.

    And we let him sometimes get on the ipad to learn numbers or letters but it’s very limited. I feel the same way about it as you.

  7. Can I confess that my son is already using my laptop mostly browsing on Cbeebies website. I let him use the laptop just so he can have a grasp of what it is and what it can do. He is 4-1/2.

    I think in the end its a choice that you have to make. There will always be something that our child will miss out on I think. Your child might be missing out on minecraft but I bet his classmates are missing out on say playing out too on times that they are in front of the computer playing a game.

  8. My 10 year old has been through a huge Minecraft phase over the last year, often playing it with school friends and his cousin (in Ireland) online.

    He’s also watched the Minecraft YouTubers although he’s not done this quite as much recently.

    It has been a challenge – we allow it because it’s great he gets to talk and play with his cousin so much but we impose time limits and these are not popular!

    Also as a family we always make an effort to get outside at the weekend so I’m not too worried.

  9. I have two sons, BP is 10 and LP is 5. BP is the quiet one, he loves his computer/iPad games and if I didn’t give him time limits he would spend all day on the things. LP is different, he has access to the same games and technology but more often than not he chooses to play pool or go outside and play either football or basketball.

    I think technology has its place and is very useful. I also think that some of the games the children play can have uses other than as entertainment.

    Our world has changed since we were young and it is now a world full of different technology. Giving our children the chance to experience all kinds, laptops, computers, iPads, etc, gives them the chance to see how things might work in the future.

    They may learn how to use computers in school but there is nothing like hands on experience.

    My husband is a programmer, he makes games and has been in the gaming industry for a long time. This is part of the reason me and my boys have been exposed to gaming but I would never put gaming above getting outdoors. As long as my boys can enjoy both then I’m happy.

    It’s all about balance. 🙂

  10. The Mother says – This is such an interesting post. Lucas plays computer games and is very good on our phones but we really monitor how much time he spends.

    We’re with you on this. He’s also wanting a TV in his room that we’ve said a definite no to that! Not for a couple of years at least.

  11. I think lots of us struggle with how best to handle this one! I think we’re probably on the strict side compared to some – our two children (age 8 and 10) have restricted access to a Family iPad. So far my youngest has shown the most interest in games.

    We ensure he only plays for a short period at a time and that there’s an adult around when he does (internet safety is such a big issue).

  12. Claire Potter 26/05/2015
    My son, just turned 16, was ‘deprived’ of computer games, etc, all his childhood – we just didn’t buy it – any of it.

    My instincts told me it was unnatural and stagnant and ‘bad for his brain’ and development to be hooked up to technology and a virtual world. I wanted him to experience the real world directly – and move his body around! I was very aware though that it made him the odd one out.

    However, I’m very glad we stuck with it – not that it was difficult because, interestingly, he never asked for technology as he was growing up.

    I guess if you don’t get addicted to ‘screens’ in the first place, you don’t have an urge to have them???

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