Christmas days, and a friend of mine, who happens to be a doctor in Ipswich, shared his vision with me, during a hot-topic discussion around the increasing problem of teenagers’ obsession with video games.
- I have a vision, Neki, he said. I want to invest some money and buy an empty field and stuff it in with the best equipment for my 13-year-old son to play in with me. I am so determined to even sacrifice work and leisure time to engage with him so that he gets distracted and stop spending hours in front of the screen in his room. I'll buy equipment and invest in facilities to help my son gets distracted by his video games
- Well, this is a great idea, but this will not distract your son from his gaming for long! Please, try to remember, how was your childhood back in the days. What was your 13-year-old self was doing in the 80’s?
- I know where you are getting to, but he likes playing football and scootering and the swings. It’s just that I do not have time to take him to the park, so he ends up staying locked in his room, seating on his new gaming comfy chair and playing online with his friends.
- Do you remember doing all these things you just described with your dad? Was it in your dad’s responsibilities to take you out as a teenager and play with you?
- Well, no, not really.
- Yes, because that was the neighbourhood’s role!! Your son does not need better equipment and facilities to get distracted from his electronic devices.
He needs his friends, other human beings to interact, socialise, argue, compete and exchange ideas with. And for sure he wouldn’t want to do all these things with you. Of course, if you want to play with him, you do it, no question.
But our teenagers should not rely on us (the parents) to develop their social skills and emotional wellbeing
- So where would you invest your money to help your child?
- Me? Well, my vision would include a set routine, where all the kids within my neighbourhood (some 15 houses altogether) to meet ‘n’ greet every afternoon at 3 in an open space (walking distance from our house) and just have free play time for at least two hours. With supervision (rota from the parents). No special equipment, no expensive facilities. Just the road, the pavement, around the trees and the streetlights!
- Yeah, that sounds very optimistic my friend. Have you got any idea how fast the cars run in our little streets?
- I know, I know. Then we should talk to our councilmen to give us this allowance for some time during the day or use a close by park. It’s just need someone to organise it. That’s all
- Well, if you manage to make it happen, let me know.
- Well, if I manage to make this work, you will see it in the news, for sure!!