I’ve been hearing from several parents and grandparents about their young people’s addiction to video games and want to write a bit about it.
Whether video games build skills or are a waste of time doesn’t matter too much here. What matters most is that we stay well connected to our young people regardless of what they’re up to. Teens have as great a need for our love and approval as they did as toddlers. We may have forgotten, but life as a teen is full of overwhelming challenges in this society.
There’s an unhelpful and sanctioned by society pull to criticize teenagers as they try to navigate these difficult years. And it’s most likely the way we were treated as young people. (Most of the men my age –baby boomers–were kicked out of their house at some time in their adolescence for long hair!).
So what to do?
To be brief (because I’ve been trying to get this post out for 2 weeks), just hang out with you teen whenever you can. See if your teen (I wish we had a pronoun like the pronoun “ta” in Chinese which means both he and she; I’ll use he for this post) will let you lie on his bed when he’s on the computer. Bring your book. Eventually, he might want to show you something about the game he’s playing. Show interest. And he may even want to start talking about bigger issues after he trusts that you want to spend time with him with no agenda. No advice; no orders; no unasked for “information.” Just clock in the time. It will make a huge difference for that young person.
It’s been useful for me to remember that it isn’t the job of our young people to make us proud; it’s our job to be proud of our young people.
I hope this is helpful for my dear readers.