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- My Mini Digital Detox – by Anna Bell
Gaming as a family – yes or no?
My twin sons are five. Is that too young to buy a games console for them?
Or the perfect age for them to learn how to use one responsibly?
This question has been going round and round in my mind, especially with Christmas coming up and I (think) I have made my decision…
It’s a real ‘hot topic’ for many of the friends and colleagues that I have asked; many having a very strong opinion one way or the other. “Don’t get them into computer games too early – you will regret it!” said one mum. “I use their time allowance on the console as a form of praise; if you behave well this week you get full Friday night allowance, any bad behaviour takes half an hour away. This works well with both my boys…” said another. “I love playing games together! We have great fun!” This was the one I wanted to explore further….
…I’m haven’t been a huge fan of games consoles, mostly, it has to be said, because I’m not great at playing! My fingers run away with themselves and I just don’t appear to be able to link my hand to my head! My characters don’t last very long, much to the enjoyment of my children. The quicker Mummy crashes, the quicker they get to take over! But practice makes perfect and I think that with parental control and supervision, the boys, along with my husband and I, will enjoy sitting, learning and playing games together.
Maybe I have a rose-tinted image of this, maybe not…
…Picture a lazy Sunday afternoon, fire roaring, coffee in hand, homework and housework all completed. Family sat on a comfy sofa, all laughing, enjoying themselves, taking it in turn to race around an F1 racetrack, build a new city, win a battle against a Super-Villain…
Yep, that’s my image. And it’s the one I’m going to stand by.
Now to chose which console to buy; so much choice, so expensive to start with and I don’t want to make the wrong long-term decision. This is going to have to last the boys for a good few years. I ask for recommendations and the one that seems to be coming up the most is the Xbox.
The recently launched Xbox One S appears to offer a lot of what I am looking for; 4K entertainment for families (via a 4K Ultra HD Blu Ray player and the ability to stream in 4K – an extra bonus that I wasn’t expecting!), as well as a range of age appropriate games for children such as Minecraft. And not overpriced, with current offers around £250.
Minecraft. Now my children know all about this, but I haven’t the foggiest! A little investigation needed on my behalf…
Minecraft puts players in a randomly-generated world where they can create their own structures and contraptions out of textured cubes. The cubes are made of different materials such as dirt, rock, sand and lava and there are two main game modes “Survival” and “Creative”
In “Survival” mode players have a health bar which is depleted by various factors such as an attack, drowning, or falling into lava while in the “Creative” mode, players are given supplies to build whatever they want and have the ability to fly. Gamers have created some amazing landscapes such as Hogwarts Castle and even replicating cityscapes.
Sounds fun. Sounds like the kind of game we could play together. Sounds like I would get on well with the ‘creative’ mode rather than the ‘survival’ one!
Of all the games that parents have recommended, as well as the children I have asked, Minecraft is the one that is repeated to me time and time again.
“All of my children love Minecraft and they are able to play together. My five year old often builds and plays better games than his 17 year old brother! Much to his brothers disgust!” This particular friends opinion is highly valued; she has ‘been there, done that’ and although she has said that her youngest son only has use of the console because of his older brother, she also agrees that playing games together means that the whole family spends time together, time that they may not otherwise do so…
Asking around the office, I am not the only one who wants to learn more about gaming. Partly because we parents want to better understand not only Minecraft, but video games as a whole so that we can make better decisions about the types of games our children play, but also because we (sometimes secretly!) think it looks like fun!
So I am going to choose our games carefully, limit time spent playing and learn… learn how to play well, learn how to win, learn how to beat my husband and children hands down at Minecraft!
I think its obvious which way my decision has gone and I for one, can’t wait for Christmas!