Today we learned (once again) the perils of permitting a 4-year-old to play the iPad.
All three of our boys love Terraria. The teen works with his friends to take down bosses and sometimes permits middle son to help. Middle son proudly informs us all what accomplishments he’s made and sometimes even succeeds in making the teen jealous. And our wee guy runs around telling us that he wants whatever cool things we happen to have (and squealing with infectious delight at whatever he finds).
And all three express their creativity in unique ways, whether it’s a large structure full of traps and lava to grind up monsters into gold coins, a strange combination of clothes and items to give their character a funny appearance, or a silly house built into the sky.
But the happiness could not last…
I stepped out of the bedroom to discover my middle son sitting on the couch heartbroken and my little guy hiding in his big sister’s bedroom awaiting the trouble he knew he was in.
Alas, no amount of defensive armor or powerful magic gear will protect against the mighty delete button. Somehow, he purged my middle son’s primary character. Dozens of hours of advancement and effort, permanently gone at the touch of a finger on the iPad’s surface.
I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the little one did the right thing once he realized he’d done wrong. He went to his older brother, apologized, and confessed what happened–without anyone telling him to do so.
We discussed the consequences of what happened. After the initial emotion, they calmed down and made up. And then we formed a plan to help make sure no similar accidents happen in the future. I spent some time playing to help my son find a few of the items he lost, and his new character is caught up pretty well.
My wife commented that life sure is different for our four year old compared to what she experienced at that age. There wasn’t any “Johnny deleted my saved game” or “Sarah’s saying mean things over Xbox Live.”
But age-old principles still apply. When we do something wrong, we own up to it and make it right.
This reminded me of a phenomenal post on Penny Arcade, a (frequently vulgar and crass and rude) web comic I follow, written and drawn by video game aficionados. The artist spent an evening doing a presentation and Q&A for his local Parent Teachers’ Association. It’s a long but well-written discussion about rules for game time and social interaction.
If you’re a parent whose knowledge of your kids’ hobbies is “they play the Minecrafts and Call of Duty on that Game Box One thing,” then this is definitely for you. But if you’re like me and my wife, and have struggled with questions like “how much game time is too much” and “what can I let the kids do online” then that link gives some great insight.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences too. What has changed the most in your opinion since you were a child? What would you add to Mike’s thoughts in the Penny Arcade link?