Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

Playstation – Is it frying their brain cells? September 2, 2011

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playstation remoteHouston, we have a problem.  One of my men-children is addicted to the Playstation.  Addicted you ask?  Well, lets see.  He plays it every spare minute he has (when it’s not hidden from him).  He often crawls out of bed in the mornings, wraps the doona around himself and his boxer shorts, and gets straight on the Playstation.  That’s before he’s even had breakfast, but I presume after his first ablutions for the day!!!!

He has been known to sit on the PS3 for hours on end – and I mean hours.   I might leave him in the morning, go and run errands or taxi children somewhere, and when I come home he’s still sitting playing the thing.  The only difference is the dirty frying pan on the stove after he’s cooked up a big breakfast to fuel his ever-growing body.   Apart from the fact that I can’t get any sense from him when he’s playing, as he’s so intent on the game (if you call killing soldiers with an arsenal of weapons that would have put Saddam Hussein to shame a GAME), I swear I can literally see his brain cells shriveling right before my eyes, and smell them as they fry.

And sometimes when he’s not at home, he meets his mates at one of those gaming centres, where they spend even more hours gaming together, no doubt in a windowless, dark room just like the casino, this way they don’t know what time it is and they spend more time and more money there (yes I know that’s the whole point!).

Of course we do our best to stop the excessive play – especially during the week when it’s a serious distraction from homework.  The best solution is to just hide the remote controls – I’ve developed quite a number of ingenious hiding places over the years, only to have them phone me when I’m out on a Friday night to ask for them.  On occasion I have had to tell their father so he can find them and not reveal the latest hiding spot.

You might have seen the recent article in Good Weekend about the very same topic: “In the firing line” (Aug 20 edition). Naturally I read it with interest.  I was relieved to learn that they haven’t yet linked the obsessive playing of PS3 games with an increase in violence amongst youth.  Although they didn’t rule out a diminished IQ amongst heavy gamers, a point I constantly make to my son, when insisting he stop playing.

It may be that I am being a paranoid, over-anxious parent who just doesn’t understand the PS3, nor the games they play.  Probably.  And perhaps it’s just Man-Child II’s way of relaxing, in the same way I find a good book relaxing, or Father of a Man-Child finds the TV relaxing.  But I also know when I remove the PS3 and boredom sets in he will go and find something else to do, which I infinitely prefer.

I don’t remember spending hours in front of the TV when I was a kid – we were sent outside to play, or would go and find something to do with our friends.  These days it seems there’s just no end to the devices they can all access 24/7, which means they don’t have to actually DO anything physical if they don’t want to.  Mind you my men-children play plenty of sport, so I can’t complain on that front, it’s just the whole balance thing I think I’m after.   An hour or two of PS3 I can cope with, just not ALL DAY.

So am I wrong?  Am I being judgmental?  Should I just let the poor man-child do what he wants at home when he’s relaxing and chilling out?  Happy to be told, really I am. 🙂

Read about my antidote to PS3 here: Gaming the old-fashioned way?