My 8-Year-Old Wants to Spend Her Summer Playing Video Games

gamesI don’t know what it is about kids these days, but they seem to be awfully interested in sitting in front of the TV while playing video games. I don’t remember spending much of my childhood camped out in front of the TV — at least not while there was good weather outside and friends were available to play with.

Back then video games weren’t nearly as advanced as they are today. I used to think that Atari’s River Raid was the most advanced video game on the planet. That is until my friend got a Nintendo game system for Christmas. You know the game system that came with the classic Mario Brothers game.

I’m not going to lie and pretend that I didn’t want a Nintendo of my own, because I really wanted one. Mario Brothers seemed so much cooler than the games I had on my old Atari system, but my parents weren’t going to budge on the Nintendo requests. Instead, I was stuck only playing Nintendo video games whenever I stayed over at my friend’s house for the night.

But even though I loved playing Mario Brothers and my friends and I spent hours playing that game late into the night, if the weather was good outside that’s where we would be found. Good weather basically meant not too far below 0 degrees and not raining. It didn’t matter if there was snow on the ground because we could do lots of things in the snow. In fact, we probably preferred the activities we could do in the snow over the activities we could do in the grass.

I don’t know how many snow forts we made, but we made hundreds of the things. We tried all kinds of different styles. We built some with multiple rooms and some with little windows where we could toss a snowball at an unsuspecting passerby. We made snow forts out of giant snow balls and others with square blocks we shaped by hand. We also made quite a few snow hills that led us through a sled course that we believed rivaled the bobsled courses that were used in the Olympics.

In the summer we played a lot of baseball and basketball. We also spent hours on the trampoline learning how to perfect the backflip and other tricks. We spent time out in the dirt creating bike tracks so we could race each other on our bikes.

There was always something going on outside that was more important and more fun than playing video games.

Today that doesn’t seem to be the case. Addie’s just getting into that age where video games really interest her. She has a Nintendo DS, and we have a Wii and an Xbox 360 Kinect. We try to limit the amount of time she gets on the video games and that seems to work fairly well. She still reads more than she plays video games so we’re definitely doing okay so far. However, the other day I mentioned something to Addie about playing some game outside during the upcoming summer. I don’t even remember what activity I had mentioned but Addie shut me down almost immediately.  She said, “Dad, I don’t want to do that in the summer. I want to spend my time out of school playing the Wii.”

To hear that from Addie was a bit shocking. It was shocking mainly because I can’t picture me or any of my friends ever saying the same thing. I can’t remember much of what my sisters did while growing up, but I know playing video games wasn’t one of them. With the exception of my youngest sister, my sisters were terrible at video games and rarely if ever played them.

While watching the current season of The Biggest Loser I’ve heard the trainers in the show talk quite a bit about kids’ habits these days of sitting in front of the TV and playing video games rather than going outside and running around. The result is a lot of kids have ended up being overweight because they don’t get the necessary physical activity. When I heard those things from the trainers I used to shrug my shoulders and think it was a problem for other parents.

Turns out it may end up being a problem for me too.

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