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Yes, My Sons Play WOW

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Most of the time on this blog, when I write about what my sons are doing, I write about reading. Or exercise. Or cooking. But they also play video games. Their current favorite is World of Warcraft; the title alone made me cringe. Plus, I can sometimes be a ball of anxiety where my sons are concerned and I imagined them falling prey to the worst of what video games can bring: brains and bodies turned to mush. No time for positive activities such as after-school clubs, exercise, and reading.

Happily, I have to report that we are managing to co-exist with this video game. We have to set limits and we have had to pull the privilege for as long as a week at a time to get some messages across. We use the parental controls; I talk to the boys regularly about where they are in the game and what they are doing. I’ve had to learn a whole new language to do this and it didn’t come easily, I tell you. We’ve talked about game etiquette, foul language, responsibilities to siblings and friends who are also playing the game.

I have also noticed that my kids use the game to spur their creativity, prompt them to seek real life social contact with friends, and to read. One aspect of the culture of WOW is that there are tons of books on different aspects of the game. The kids have bought (with allowance money or gift cards) books on the art of WOW, game guides, and books full of statistical tables that explain the intricacies of the game’s relationships. They spend time reading the WOW wiki online. They head outside with homemade swords (Popsicle sticks, aluminum foil, and spray paint) and tell “private stories.” They go off together to reflect on the day’s gaming or to plan a future session.

If we didn’t set limits, I imagine they would choose to play for much longer. Their reading, homework, chores, and social interactions would suffer. But we have decided that video games are part of our culture and we are trying to figure out reasonable ways for our kids to play with them. If you are interested in exploring more information about boys and developing their creative sides, check out these programs from the Wisconsin Public Radio program To The Best of Our Knowledge: Magical Thinking and What Boys Are Made Of.

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