I remember when pong, the first household video game hit the market. It was quickly followed by the Atari system and then Nintendo.
My only experience playing these games was at the homes of my cousins. My parents thought they had better things to spend their disposable income on and said they wanted me to go outdoors and find ways to entertain myself and engage my imagination. I have no reason to doubt their intentions. Perhaps my imagination did benefit from their pedagogical ideals.
Take for instant earlier this week. I'd never tried to live trap a rat before and with my first success was surprised by the flood of ideas that came to my mind of all the fun I could have with a live rat. All of them social unacceptable of course, still, each of them hilarious. It seemed a shame to dispatch the cute little vermin.
I think Tom Sawyer would have agreed, a live rat is a terrible thing to waste.
So if you find yourself complaining that your kid spends too much time playing video games and thinking he needs to spend more time engaging his imagination, you may be right but consider the risk. You can't control where that imagination once fired will take him. You might wake up some morning with a live rat trapped in your toilet.
Still, I'm 42, have a mortgage and kids and benefit from the neighbors thinking well enough of me to let me hunt on their property. Certain things must be set aside in the pursuit of something better and longer lasting. The rat was dispatched in a humane manner, despite my comic instincts.
But my kids, they don't have a video game system. I make no guarantees about what they may or may not do in a year or two.