Thursday, January 5, 2012

There are no walk-throughs in real life.

So, Ben bought a new video game with his Christmas money. During the school week I don't allow the kids to play video games, but over vacation I let them play as much as they wanted during their designated TV time. Ben spent every second of it playing his new game.

I noticed that every half an hour or so he'd pause the game and get on the internet. I realized he was looking up how to beat the levels.

I'm not sure why, but it really annoyed me. So I forced him to sit through a long winded lecture we had a talk.

One of the reasons I'm not vehemently opposed to video games like some people is because they teach you to problem solve. This particular game he was playing required a lot of problem solving and using what you'd been taught as the game progressed.

But he was skipping all the thinking and problem solving.

There are no walk-throughs in real life! At some point in time you're going to be stuck without access to Google or your GPS or your parents or teachers and you're going to have to figure out what to do based on your knowledge and experience alone.

Just like a video game gives you training and tools to complete a challenge, real life gives you parents and school and life experience--they are your training and the things you learn are your tools. But unlike the video game, when you get stuck in real life you can't just push the pause button to look up how to complete the level. You have to keep trying and trying until you figure it out.

There are going to be days where it's nothing but turtle shells coming at you. But you keep going. You could spend years of your life thinking you're about to win only to be repeatedly told that the princess is in another castle.

But you can't just quit the game. And you can't spend your life taking the easy way out and expect to learn how to beat the Big Boss.

So I banned walk-throughs and cheat codes. Ben thinks I'm the most unreasonable parent on earth, but I think it's one more step toward making him a self sufficient, functioning member of society. King Koopa has great balls of fire*, and I want my kids to have the knowledge and experience necessary to figure out how to defeat him on their own.

*The kids were watching some Mario Bros. show on Netflix, and Luigi said, "We'll never defeat King Koopa! He has great balls of fire!" Liam, perplexed, asked, "How do they know he has great balls of fire? He's wearing pants!"

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