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Father Vs. Son in Electronic Showdown


Today bradI have an extra-special researcher and guest columnist co-writing for this article:  my son Toby Washburn.

He’s ‘here’ to give his opinion and related facts as to why computer/video games are beneficial and how kids should be allowed to play them at all times.  I asked him to write with me on this, because he’s pretty much constantly making this case to my wife and I, so he might as well use his debate skills for the benefit of dads everywhere.

First, let me clarify that computer and video games haven’t always existed.  When I was a kid, I didn’t have video games . . .

Toby:  Well, it’s the 21st century now, and things are different.

But I survived pretty well without them . . .

Toby:  I’m not saying that I can’t survive, I’m just saying that I should be allowed to play them a little bit more.

And this is where the debate begins.  I am going to spare you readers the arguments of “All my friends play Minecraft” and “I’m the only kid who has a limited time to be online.”

Toby:  Dad . . .

And I’m going to jump right into the pros and cons of video/computer games in the 21st Century

Pros by Toby

  • interactive with other kids
  • helps brain skills– problem solving  – puzzles –
  • fun
  • good sportsmanship — I’m actually adding this one because I’ve seen this firsthand.  Watching Toby play a MMOG (Massive Multiplayer Online Game) Minecraft has shown me that sometimes he will seriously get beat in a player-vs-player online competition.  Toby, and many of the other players will enter “GG” (good game), then try again.  That’s the kind of good sportsmanship that dads want to foster in their kids.  Competition is good, but you have to be a good sport, even when you lose.
  • typing skills — going to add a little on this one too.  Dads, you should encourage, or even mandate, that your kids use correct typing when playing online.  They may want to ‘hunt and peck’ but it will make life so much easier on them for their education, if they can type correctly.
  • learning about computers

Cons – by Brad

  • shallow relationships– flesh and blood relationships are messy.  People have emotions and they are offensive and rude and inconvenient.  It’s easy to handle those issues in an online world: ‘click.’  You can easily edit, limit, unfriend, or ignore people online.  The messiness of honest relationships is not so easy to handle, and yet it is a skill kids need to learn.
  • lack of exercise
  • exposure to inappropriate content — just watching over the shoulder of my kids as they play and interact online; there is a lot of scary, pornographic, vile, and violent people and content online.  Playing online games creates more available exposure to those things.

Are Toby and I going to see eye to eye on this issue?

Toby:  No.

Probably not.  But I’m the dad and what I say goes.  In fact, I’m going to finish this article without your input son.

Toby: [rolling eyes]

The bottom line of instruction for us dads is this:  Balance.  I honestly don’t think you can raise Christ-following kids in the 21st Century and keep them away from online interaction.  It really would defeat the concept of being a witness in the world in which we live.

Balancing your son/daughter’s activities in the electric medium, with things in the physical world, is an important discipline to teach.  That boils down to monitoring and limiting your kid’s time online and with electronics.

  • Set the precedent that you, as dad, have unregulated and unrestricted access to any online activity they have.  Do this at the youngest age possible.  Get their passwords and routinely check up on them.
  • Play with them.  You know you like to play some of the games they are playing; so do it.
  • Limit their time with electronics.  Our pediatrician recommended no more than 3 hours of electronics each day (including TV).  Whatever limit you want to use, use it.  They will complain, and if I let Toby put his “two cents” on this issue, he’d admit that he goes into orbit when I tell him that his electronic time is up.  Or, maybe he wouldn’t admit it, but he goes into orbit.
  • Make them go outside.  Make them face boredom.  Make them interact with flesh-and-blood relationships.  Actually, this will probably happen naturally when you limit their electronic time.  We adults all faced this when we were younger.  If you don’t have electronics, your natural makeup will kick in and you’ll find something to do, and you’ll seek out kids to do it with.  God created us to be creative and seek out nature and have relationships.
  • Have goals for your kids.  You want to encourage your children to make goals for themselves, but you also need goals for how you train your kids.  I will admit to you that it is soooo much easier to have your children be ‘out of your hair’ watching TV or interacting online.  Having no goals for this topic means that you are handing over the direction of your kids to electronics; electronics don’t make for good parents.  Electronics will provide, but I guarantee you it won’t be in the ways you would intend for your children to grow.

Christ was the role model of growing up in balance.  Luke 2:52 says that “Jesus  grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”  Which, in 21st Century Brad Washburn Paraphrase means, ‘Jesus balanced his mind, body, understanding of God, and played a little bit of video games with His fellow man.’ — yeah, it’s a good thing I’m not translating the Bible.

Guide your children by helping them create balance with their electronic involvement.  And if you meet the team of Toby/Brad online in Star Wars Battlefront, we will wipe you out . . .  then we will type “GG.”


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Brad Washburn is a father, husband, and Director of a Christian counseling center in Tampa, Florida. He has helped hundreds of people over the last 15 years. In particular, he desires to see fathers be “men after God’s own heart” — a description of King David in the Bible who was a lover, fighter, sheep herder, and harp player . . . .Find out more

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