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I read this article the other day: “There’s a good kind of distraction and a bad kind. Here’s how to tell the difference between them” . To summarize it, it matters if you use media to go toward something (learn or achieve something) or to go away from something (mask out anxiety, can’t think of anything else to do). If you determine that your child is going toward something, he is interested in something, so I believe you can stop worrying so much. By all means, keep trying to expand his world — this is what parents are supposed to do. I just think you’ll go much further if you use his hobby as a starting point more than something to run away from.
Here is a blog entry that may give you a different perspective on video games: “Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Video Games“. Pam Laricchia’s blog is about unschooling, which I don’t do because it wouldn’t be a good fit for me and my kid. However, I find that the unschooling philosophy in many areas reflects what I found to work with my kid the best, and Pam is an excellent writer. Many unschooled kids are left in a sense to do “whatever they want”, and it’s a relief to find out that they seem to be functional adults afterward. Peter Gray wrote this book called “Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life“, about inquiry-based schools where kids are left to follow their own interests, is also a fascinating read (and lest you think that all kids will ever choose are careers in video games, the kids mentioned in this book had very diverse careers — one even chose to be a mortician!).
As Uncle Dharma so eloquently stated, it takes all kinds of people to make this up world. Do I know people that make a living playing computer games? Yes, I do! I even met somebody that was making money video-gaming competitively. I also met an avid video game player that started in the game industry, then realized how much money stock market traders make, and became a floor broker. Apparently it’s like playing video games! I spent an entire childhood reading everywhere, including while walking on the street (I stopped reading while crossing the road after narrowly escaping being hit by a car). As this post shows, I still spend most of my free time reading, and I find it easier and easier to direct it in useful ways as I get older.
Parenting is hard and there are never any guarantees. But intense worry can really sap your soul and color the relationship with your child, which might perceive it as disapproval for what he is doing. If you find something that both of you will enjoy (even if it’s not necessarily educational, like going for ice cream on Sunday mornings), I believe it will bring up joy in both your lives.