Most of us parents have a love-hate relationship with virtual reality games for kids, like Club Penguin, Pocoyo World and Webkinz. On the one hand, they provide an amazingly creative and stimulating world at our children’s fingertips. On the other, it’s only our children’s fingertips that are moving while they play. Watching my kids ‘play’ on screens is actually rather disconcerting. They are so… still.
I’ve always known that getting the kids moving is one of the key components to parenting them well. Movement equals health for both mind and body. I know this, yet everything my kids are being offered seems to contradict this goal. Screens! TV shows, apps, gaming devices – they are all getting brighter and shinier every single year and even the strictest parent is often powerless against the avalanche, let alone me!
The fact is, I simply must make peace with screen time because screens are here to stay. I need to find the balance that works best for my children and our home and work diligently to keep the boundaries upright and firm. For me, the balance has come with outright bans on screens on most days of the week and relative freedom on a couple of days of the week. Your balance may be different.
Something that I’ve wised up to over the years, though, is being careful about the type of screen time my children are engaged in. This is where those fingertip-exercisers – virtual worlds – started to really gnaw at my conscience. It seemed like a lot of time spent doing nothing physical whatsoever for a purpose I’d yet to understand. I banned them outright.
Well, there’s a new kind of virtual reality game in town that is making me reconsider my position. These games combine motion gaming (think PlaystationMove or Wii U) with virtual reality in a way that makes sense to me. One to keep an eye on is Treasure Dash, which is makes kids get moving and keep moving in order to play the game. Kids are mobile and active while they are engaged in game play – up off the couch and literally jumping!
Sounds pretty cool, right?
Treasure Dash: Race for Lost Wonders is still in kickstarter mode – you might like to sign up to be a tester as we did. Publisher Monkey Mojo Games says that the game was created to put an end to “mindless couch swiping”.
An end to mindless ‘couch swiping’? Yes please! Although, ‘couch swiping’ actually makes me think of people stealing couches… um…
Regardless, it’s certainly given me a rethink about what ‘screen time’ has to mean. My screen-loving son was only too happy to download the app immediately (he’ll take any app, any time) and was soon bouncing around the house slaying enemies – I liked that very much! It makes me feel a lot more positive about where my kids are headed as they navigate the future.
As a matter of fact, you might just say that mobility games like this one are a ‘game changer’ for me. (Sorry about that.)
Do you agree that this changes the game?
More on screen time negotiations: