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PLAY Attention: Xbox Gamer Parenting

Being a parent today means you’ve probably got gamer kids. The chances are they have, are, or will be playing video games. Even if it’s on their phone. Face it. They’re gamers.

I ran across this tip on the online about kids and video games that said, “Pay Attention.” Actually it went on several screens more, but really, who has the time? Plus, this is NOT a tip I need. Why, you ask? Because paying attention is a given when you’re waiting for your turn. You see, I PLAY attention. I’m a gamer.

For years “Xbox time” has been a kind of “family time” in my house. For the older boys, at least. That includes me. My wife says she has four kids, and that I have three. (Get it? Because I’m one of the kids. Yeah, you probably got it without me needing to call it out. Moving on.)

If she ever meant this as an insult, she failed epically. I love it. I love being a kid at heart. The people that I know who are the most “grown up” are not exactly shining spokespeople for outrageous happiness.

The Family Xbox(s)

Um, yeah. If one is rad, multiply it by two for twice the radness, right? Wrong. It’s a lot more than fun that. But this is starting to sound like a math lesson, I can feel my skin crawling. Blech!

The point is, the boys and I have had some of the most amazing times playing together. Our latest Xbox is also what we watch movies and YouTube videos on, so it’s harder and harder to think of it just as a “video game console.”

Gamer Parenting

In playing with my boys, I think in ways they’ve actually learned valuable lessons in sportsmanship and humility (when I win), and gain confidence and a sense of achievement (when they win). Also, learning to share isn’t vital, it’s as requisite as breathing where gaming is concerned.

Playing Xbox together as a family

Max is in the process known as pawning me. He’s at double my score and enjoying every second of it. Me, not so much.

When it gets grim, and you’re playing with Crabby McCrakypants, there are good teaching moments to be had in conflict resolution. And when no one shows up to class for these moments, there is of course taking away the Xbox privileges. Which is normally greeted with swift intakes of breath and ridiculously wide eyes.

A Message to Non-Gamer Parents

I honestly feel bad for parents who aren’t gamers, in a way. In today’s day and age they probably have to contend with the problem of video games. It’s probably pretty alarming for them. All the difficulty of dealing with your kids plus the “how do I set the VCR so it doesn’t blink 12:00″ factor. Just remember that if you don’t play, then just pay attention; set rules, show some interest, review the games they’re playing, blah blah blah. Or give it a shot! There are few laughs as hard as the ones you’ll have with your kids, as you slam into walls and flail the controller around in your hand like your holding a deep-sea fishing rod with a 150lb swordfish on the hook.

Hilarity!

Thanks to Xbox for making such a crazy rad gaming station for me and my boys and for sponsoring this campaign. Visit xbox.com to learn more. Click here to see more of the discussion.

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