Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Kids online

In this post, I will either come across as indecisive, self-deluding or a hypocrite. I’ll let you be the judge.

One of the debates around our house this Christmas has been whether or not to get Tristan a video game for Christmas. I’m not overly fond of the idea.

The boys already love the games on the Peep and the Big Wide World website. (I too love this site, and the cartoon.) Each night after dinner, Simon asks, “Peep now? Peep now? Peep now?” with the regularity of an atomic clock. I’ll hold the laptop and move the cursor for them, but won’t let them play by themselves. I’m not sure if this is a parental influence issue or a “you’ll not be touching MY laptop with your sticky fingers” issue.

Video games for the preschool set seems to be the latest thing. I see that Leap Frog, a company to which I generally give a lot of credence, has come out with Little Leaps, a DVD/video game console targeted to the 9 – 36 months set. (Seriously? A video game for 9 month olds?)

I’ve given up a bit of ground, and we’ll be getting the Zoooos game set for the boys. It works like the Little Leaps, turning the DVD player into a video game console. Oh well, at least the games are educational. And more importantly, not handheld portables so (a) I can see when, what and how much they are playing and (b) they won’t wander away and get lost under somebody’s bed or in the closet or any of the myriad other places our toys seem to end up.

I was doing some research yesterday and came across this article from topix.net about how kids as young as eight are logging in to virtual communities:
Hundreds of thousands of Canadian children are signing up to online social networking communities where they can chat, play games and create virtual worlds. But unlike sites like Myspace or Friendster, which encourage members to leave
personal information on their profiles, social websites for the younger set do the exact opposite.

Webkinz, Club Penguin and Neopets are sites aimed at kids between eight and 14. They allow members to take on a character - usually in the form of an animal or creature - and create a world for them.

Eight years old and online social networking. Yikes!

What do you think? At what age do you introduce your kids to computer games? Are they evil, or educational? Do you have a fave kids’ website?