A New Generation of Parents: Gaming with Kids

Make gaming a family affair!

How old were you when you picked up your first gaming controller?

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My son was about six months old.

He must have felt of the loop when mommy and daddy were playing co-op, because he would lose his marbles any time we attempted it.

Our solution? Sit him down in his special little chair and hand him a controller.

He chewed on it; we laughed.

It didn’t take long, however, for him to figure out how to manipulate the thing, and he’d beam with baby pride, thinking that he was controlling the on-screen action.

Unless we were playing any iteration of Little Big Planet. He wasn’t a big fan.

Now, at two, he’s still hooked.

If I or his dad settle into a game, he has to be a part of the fray, wielding his own controller. He sits next to us, kicking his chubby toddler legs, sticking his tongue out in (what I assume to be) sheer concentration. His little sister is following in his footsteps, pleased as punch to join us.

Some parents brag about their kids being on the honor roll. Obnoxious.

We brag that our babies game better than your babies. Equally obnoxious.

Don’t judge me!

This is one way that we bond with our kiddos, and many parents of our generation are following suit. We grew up on games. We still enjoy them, so we integrate it into our parenting. The blogosphere is flooded with folks who view gaming as a potential bonding experience, and that’s no surprise. An overwhelming 92% of adult parents can dig it.

Mike Hoye’s epic switcharoo on The Legend of Zelda is a model of a parent using gaming for good. He, unwilling to allow his daughter to believe that women can’t be heroic, hacked the game. A tweak, tweak here and a tweak, tweak there, and all references to Link indicated that the character was female.

Marius Mathisen of Norway is using gaming to bond and also to help his step-daughter, who has difficulty learning. Rather than lean on traditional, less engaging learning fare, he has created Angelina’s World. The iPad app engages her, encouraging her verbal and reading skills in a way that she can appreciate.

We’ve all seen the caricatures of the modern family, each member engulfed in their own device, with no cohesive interaction between them. Rather than using these advances as babysitters or buying our own heads in them, let’s use them as a way to connect with each other and strengthen our family bonds.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Once Upon a Monster calls!


What say you?

Do you or would you use gaming to spend time with your little ones?

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Image of Imayen Etim
Imayen Etim
Imayen Etim is a freelance writer and GameSkinny contributor based in Gainesville, Florida. She can be contacted at imayen.e [at] gmail.com