Friday, July 31, 2009

The Nintendo Nanny?

It's 11 AM on a Wednesday. Do you know where your children are? If you're the moms at my athletic club, you do. They're sitting in the cafe with their handheld Nintendo DS games, glued to their screens, while you do Zumba. Welcome to the new version of electronic babysitting.

I just wrote a post about my reaction to finding ourselves surrounded by 12 boys, each with his own DS that I am posting on svmoms later this week. I wasn't the only one to notice this new scene that had popped up at the gym. You can bet my five-year old was fascinated. He couldn't tear his eyes away from all the big boys with their cool video games. The teenager working at the gym cafe noticed too. She commented to another customer on "the new version of babysitting".

Given that I happily let 5-year old Rainman play with his Leapster in the gym's daycare center (it's educational! Really!) while I do Zumba, I can't blame the Nintendo moms. But I do wonder how it will be when my kids are in school if "everyone" has a DS and they want one too.

This may be a uniquely Silicon Valley concern. My friend visited her cousin in Colorado recently. Her cousin and her husband had never heard of a DS, even though she has a seven-year old boy too and they're both teachers.

How will we cross this next gaming bridge when we come to it? I assume that like everything else, we'll say our kids have to ask for it for Christmas or a birthday (or maybe do chores to earn money to buy it if they're old enough), and then we'll set limits on screen-time.

Will I let it become my virtual nanny though? I hope not, but having just seen how quiet a room with 12 young boys can be when they have their DS, I know it will be tempting.


Jen said...

I saw your comment on my recent Deep South Moms post (In the Red) and hopped over to your blog. Lots of food for thought and I will definitely enjoy reading it.

We bought our five-year-old a DS for his last birthday, and yes, it is very tempting to hand it over to him in order to obtain some peace and quiet. I do try my best to set time limits with it and don't let him bring it into restaurants, stores, etc. Where I find it the most appropriate is during long car rides (admittedly we live out in the sticks, so a majority of our car rides are long!) during doctor's appointments for me or his little brother and other places where we will have to be otherwise sitting around and waiting.

But yes, I have been known to let him play it after school so I can squeeze some work in during his brother's nap (not proud of this, but it's the truth). However, I do recognize that the responsibility of how much time he spends on the DS is completely owned by me and I try to manage that responsibility with intelligence and realistic expectations (and armed with a list of alternative "quiet" activities that do not involve watching a screen of some sort.)

Good luck with it if you decide to get one for your child!

Kim Moldofsky said...

I'm in the Chicago area and find it shocking that the mother of a 7 year-old boy has not heard of Nintendo DS!

BTW, you won the Starbucks VIA and Whipped cream from Scrambled CAKE

Anonymous said...

I'm glued to my Nintendo DS screen too :)