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Sunday, January 3, 2010

Should a toddler be allowed to play with a Nintendo DS?

When my son was just under two years old, I was playing Super Mario Brothers on MY Nintendo DS.  It was never intended for him.  After watching me play the game once, he wanted to give it a try.  I figured that he would get bored with it pretty quickly, so I let him have a try.  My to my amazement, he played the game well from the very start!  I thought it was amusing and amazing!!  So that Christmas, I got him the Leapster.  I figured that it would be a good alternative for him.  Well, the downside is that because he was only two years old, he doesn't know Math or how to read, which is somewhat required for all Leapster games.  Drat!  The Nintendo DS is so much easier because there are plenty of E rated games that do not require reading.  So after my husband got me a new DS for Christmas, I decided to give my old one to our son.

Well, it has snowballed since then.  He is still only three years old now, but he can play Nintendo DS games like a champ.  He plays much better than I do.  (No, I am not jealous.)  But sometimes I wonder if this can be a bad thing.  It certainly has it's ups and downs.

I have noticed that with certain games he can become a bit more aggressive, so I do try to steer clear of those games.  I have tried to steer him toward the Leapster games, but that attempt has failed most of the times.  Sure, he plays his Leapster sometimes, but not as much as that Nintendo DS.  It's good for long car rides and getting him to sit still in a restaurant for longer than five minutes.

I don't allow him to take it to social gatherings, such as a family get-together for the holidays.  But that really doesn't help when most of the bigger kids have brought their DS with them.  I feel like a family gathering is for socializing with people, not for burying your head in a video game, which is what he would do.  But when he sees the other kids with their game systems, the only thing he wants to do is have a turn with it.  And when that kid doesn't want to share their DS (which is totally their call), then all heck breaks loose.  My three year old is being taught to share and now this older kid is not sharing.  Oy-vey!  Now what?

I am not about to give in and let him bring his DS with him.  There is just too much that can go wrong in that scenario.  And I am trying to get him interested in other things so that he doesn't become a video game junkie. 

But I do have to admit that sometimes it is nice to have a long stretch of time to do laundry or something while he's playing a round of Kirby.


Chavah Kinloch said...

I have MAJOR issues with children and games. I guess it stems from my own childhood experiences. My brother basically grew up doing nothing but playing games and now has no social skills whatsoever. This past week my husband and I allowed my children to play games on the computer and all of a sudden they went from happy well functioning children that could create their own fun to whiney little beasts that were only happy when it was their turn on the computer. So there went that luxury! I'll bring it back, just when I feel like issuing out some harsh rules hehe. Love being the Mum.

Anonymous said...

I've always believed kids can learn from just about anything...and they learn an incredible amount by watching the examples we set.

You've set rules about when/where he can play and when it's unacceptable...and you also taught him about sharing when he is playing. Sounds to me like you've given him a great role model!

-Stefanie from

Ps. stopped by from U100 MBC and am now following you :)

Jacquie @ Joy Made Full said...

My husband never got to do things like that as a child - at any age - so he'd prefer to let our children play anytime they wanted for however long they wanted. But that's how I was raised so I put limitations on when and for how long. I hate seeing teens playing all the time without paying any attention to people around them and I figure that starts when they're young.

Sounds like you don't allow him to get "lost" it in so I say the occasional time he spends on it is ok. We don't have a DS but we do have a couple Leapsters and my kids love them.

Following from MBC.

Lynette said...

I agree that balance is key with gaming and all things in life, for that matter. I really applaud your putting a priority on social interactions. Video games can be excellent for developing certain specific skills, but overall, interacting with people and socializing in a variety of settings will give your son a broad base of skills he can call upon his whole life long.

thehecticeclecticgirl said...

I'd limit the length of time he can play. I think it's good to limit the situations he can play it in, but it's also important to limit the length for his healthy brain development. Anyone know the TV guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics? I think it's something like 30 minutes per year after age 2...? I would think this applies to games also? Although I won't let my 8 year old watch or play for longer than an hour at a time...? Good luck! Came by from Twitter Moms...