Don't Let Gaming Keep the Kids Inside All Summer

video game imageSummer days are driftin' away. Things have changed since I was a kid. I remember waking up at age 13 -- usually around noon -- and padding over in my pajamas to the Nintendo, where I spent the next six hours (until The Brady Bunch came on) playing video games. No one batted an eye as I whiled my youth away jumping on turtles and shooting bad guys.

These days, parents are different. We're expected to find enriching experiences for our young ones, and gaming is so engrossing that you could spend 40 hours on a game and still come away unsatisfied. So I talked with Gadget Mom at Gadget Dad HQ and asked her what our little ones have been playing most and how she's been doling out the game time.

She was happy to share her insight ...


Hot Games on the Market

This summer we've been playing Pokemon Black (or White) for the Nintendo DS and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time for the Nintendo 3DS. For the XBox 360 we've been enjoying Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing, a game that is now also available on the iPad and iPhone.

If you want something more cerebral, I'd suggest Civilization V, an excellent world simulation game that's fun to play with the kids on your lap, discussing various historical figures and concepts.

Racing games like Grid, Burnout Paradise, and Dirt are always winners, but anything rated Teen and above is going to be quite rough for the little ones. Stick with E for Everyone games but remember to check things out on sites like IGN before picking up a dud.

Useful Tips

Gadget Mom has been taking the kids to swim practice and various other outdoor activities all summer and doesn't enjoy it when Gadget Dad suggests they might be able to play a little Nintendo. That said, here are some rules Gadget Mom has laid down around our house that may be applicable at home. 

Make gaming a reward, not a right. Our boy, K, is heading to first grade and he's having trouble recognizing his Bs and Ds. We're traveling all summer, so before he gets to think about playing, he has to write a letter to a friend back home or work through a simple writing worksheet. Then he gets to crack open the DS or sit down with me for a game of Zaxxon.

Play with your little ones. I've been playing emulated arcade games with ours, showing them classics like Congo Bongo, Galaxian, and Pac Man. Atari Greatest Hits for the iPad, for example, features 100 great games from the past.

Set a timer. Although the kids hate the sound, we always set the oven timer to about 30 minutes so they can play for half an hour before bed. It makes it more of a treat and we can control how much they veg out over the summer.

My summer days were fun, I can assure you, but I think our kids are having even more fun playing fewer games and getting outside a lot more often. Now that I'm a parent, though, I do miss waking up at noon.


Image via iTunes

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