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Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

At what age did you allow your children to play games on the computer and/or video games of any kind (educational or not)?

Asked by Simone_De_Beauvoir (38944points) July 8th, 2011

Very simple question, wrestling with whether or not to get my almost 5 year old (he turns 5 next Thursday, shudder!) started on some Leapster TV learning stuff and/or computer kindergarten learning games…as, generally, I’m not a huge fan of having any of my kids plugged into anything with screens for any purpose…Just let me know what age and reasoning behind your decision. Thanks!

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28 Answers

patg7590's avatar

asap. otherwise he will be in high school and be that one idiot kid that can’t even get on the internet.

janbb's avatar

We wouldn’t buy Nintendo when it came out so my son at around 5 or 6 insisted on playing it when he went over to friends. When he was about 10, he saved up “his own” money and bought a used one from a friend. This was before we had a PC in the house.

incendiary_dan's avatar

My nephew had his own computer very early. I forget how early. I don’t suggest it, he’s really hooked now, though we’ve had lots of success getting him to enjoy playing outside now. It was tough for a while, though.

TexasDude's avatar

Like it or not, computer literacy is going to be a highly important, if not necessary skill for kids to learn if they want to function in today’s society.

Your kids don’t have to be zombies plugged into the thing 24 hours a day, but they will benefit from developing computer literacy. It is up to you, as a parent, to make sure your kids’ exposure to technology is used as a tool, rather than a diversion. Technology can be addicting, as @incendiary_dan mentioned. Hell, I’ve wasted countless hours playing minecraft or other video games, but I’m certain that if you are careful to maintain balance and discipline, you can expose your kids to technology without them becoming pudgy zombies.

incendiary_dan's avatar

But if they do become computer-addicted zombies, send them to my zombie apocalypse survival class and I’ll whip them into shape. :P

Aethelwine's avatar

Good advice @Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard.

Our children were 3 when they started playing games. Possibly younger, I can’t quite remember. Our oldest is now studying Computer Science with a minor in math at his university. :)

Schools now have computer lab for the youngest children enrolled. There’s nothing wrong with at least a little exposure.

TexasDude's avatar

@incendiary_dan functionalism, for the win!

YARNLADY's avatar

12 weeks old on his own, earlier in his Dad’s lap.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard Given that their father is a tech/computer genius as well as a musician/recording artist, they’re well versed in all kinds of technology and of course in phones, blackberries,kindles, etc. That doesn’t mean, however, that I’ve allowed them to play on computers. They can, sometimes, in the library.

TexasDude's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir if I might ask, what is your primary concern with them playing with a computer? opposed to a blackberry/kindle?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard Well it’s not like they play with the blackberry/kindle for longer than a minute. Primary concern: get their stimulation elsewhere, have them develop imaginative play yada yada – now that he’s 5, I feel perhaps a little playing here and there isn’t so bad.

Supacase's avatar

I have been thinking about that myself lately. I feel like I am doing my 5 y/o a disservice by not allowing computer time and I was recently told by a medical professional I trust that I actually am.

The reality is, these are skills she will need almost immediately upon entering school. There are some very good online learning games and her time on the computer can be limited. She is not getting her own computer.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Supacase Computer skills aren’t hard to acquire, they know how to operate computers and the such – there is a difference between learning necessary computer skills to ‘stay current with the world’ and figuring out when and how much to allow for video game playing per day, etc.

TexasDude's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I gotcha, that’s what I figured. I’d be concerned about the same thing. I think that as long as you monitor their interaction with the technology and you consistently reinforce that it is a tool, and not a substitute for… well, being alive and free in the big wide world, then I think they will be alright. Your mileage may vary, though, as you know your kids better than I do.

Cruiser's avatar

The computer is a wonderful learning tool for kids of all ages. I let my boys do age appropriate activities on the computer off line till they were 12 and keeping the game or learing tool age appropriate. Be prepared for the Max and Johnny get to play death ray Terror Squard 2010…...and IGNORE it!

bkcunningham's avatar

I think 5 years old is fine @Simone_De_Beauvoir for the Leapster games. Moderation and supervision are my only advise. My children are now 32, 24 and 22. We didn’t have Nintendo or any video games in our home. We just weren’t interested in video games. My son was more interested because he had played at a friend’s house but would rather be outside riding a dirt bike or stalking things in the woods.

I bought a Gateway computer and we had Internet in the home when the 24 year old was about 13 but that was just because it wasn’t so prevalent and the cost was very high at that time.

My kids were readers, played board games, loved the library and were outside dwellers and didn’t spend much time on the computer when we did have one. They are all computer savy now and and keep up with the best of ‘em.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I can’t speak as a parent, but how my parents raised me. They didn’t let me play video games. Ever. I’ve played maybe 2 cumulative hours of video games over at friends houses. They did, however, let me play Oregon Trail (both 1 and 2—2 is better), Yoda Stories (quite possibly the only Star Wars game not based on shooting people with virtual lasers) and a few typing games, as well as let me generally be on computers since I was 4. I got a hand-me-down computer when I was 11 as my own, and got a lot of practice in that way. And now, I’m really good with computers. Not computer programmer good, but enough that I understand what computer programmers are talking about most of the time. I also don’t play video games. I wanted to when I was younger, but between the hundreds of dollars just for one gaming station and the $60 per game, it seemed like a really bad investment to spend on something I didn’t even know if I would end up liking. So I definitely think there are ways to get your kid computer literate, even computer savvy, while keeping them away from playing Halo 3 for 6 hours every day.

SpatzieLover's avatar

My son just turned 6. We’ve had the Wii and he’s had his own laptop for about 3yrs or so. We do let him play online games (only a couple of sites allowed), read & do interactive books, and he has a couple of Little Bear games to play.

He doesn’t choose to do either the TV games or the laptop more than a few times per month. When he does, one of us is in the room and we give him a time limit.

I don’t see the harm in allowing it. I would see harm in allowing it every day.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard, I can tell you from teaching undergrads that they are not learning computer literacy from playing video games. I’m somewhat shocked at how little savvy the youth seems to have in this area, and I’m starting to wonder if it’s because we equate learning to play computer games with learning how to use a computer and software.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@dappled_leaves I’m starting to wonder if it’s because we equate learning to play computer games with learning how to use a computer and software. THIS. Knowing how to kill zombies and hookers with a joystick is not the same as knowing how to format an essay in MLA style, or how to input data to create graph, or how to set up parental controls on a browser.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar


In all fairness, it wasn’t really my choice, for multiple reasons. Having said that, there don’t seem to be any ill effects, and that was 7 years ago. They are insanely good at video games, though.
For that matter I started playing video games when I was 6 or 7, now that I think about it.

TexasDude's avatar

@dappled_leaves I didn’t explicitly say whether they should play games, or use the computer in other ways. That part is up to @Simone_De_Beauvoir, but I did emphasize that Simone teach them to use technology as a tool, not a diversion.

jerv's avatar

@incendiary_dan Where do I sign up?

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Fiddle_Playing_Creole_Bastard – did you edit the post that I was responding to? I thought it said something like not playing computer games will turn children into computer illiterate idiots. Or something. That’s weird.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@dappled_leaves the first response to this thread says something to that effect.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Ahhhh…. that’s what I get for fluthering while sleep deprived. :/

TexasDude's avatar

@dappled_leaves I haven’t edited any of my posts in this thread. My first response mentioned me playing minecraft and video games all the time, but that was in reference to my own experiences, not a suggestion as to what Simone’s kids should be doing.

Jeruba's avatar

My older son was five when I first let him play an adventure-quest RPG on the computer. It was a pretty early version of Moria with virtually nothing in the way of graphics, just white words on a black screen and single ASCII characters for critters and environmental features. He was getting the hang of reading, and his reading skills took a huge leap up as he played this game. For a while it was all he could talk about.

A year later he read the entire 14-book Oz series and 7-book Narnia series, and I think he was as much motivated by his newfound love of fantasy adventures as by pleasure in using his reading muscles.

Even when it comes to computer games I am capable of being stubbornly retro: I think the games with minimal graphics are a much more exciting exercise for the imagination than those in which everything is detailed out visually so that the player is no longer a participant in the creative process.

I never did allow either of my sons to have a Nintendo, GameBoy, or any other dedicated game-playing device. Once they understood that I was firm in my position that we would not have one in the house, they quit asking. I don’t think either of them was scarred for life. Of course, once they were in their teens and had their own computers, I no longer controlled what games they had access to.

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