Last week or so, I mentioned that our boys have been playing "army dudes" on a Nintendo (64?) game system that someone had passed down to us. It wasn't real battles...no graphic violence (rated E for everyone). It was a cartoon-style game of little plastic army men (like the kind you buy in a bag in the the dollar section.) that travel through various rooms of the house shooting at things, and looking for more ammo. It seemed like relatively clean harmless fun, right? I mean, the boys have bags of these toys they set up on their desk and can imagine battling each other for hours on end, so why should the video be much worse.
Well, when 4 year old Charlie yelled out that he "wished he had a real gun" so he could "kill dad" for not giving him a cookie, or when he woke up twice in one night with bad dreams about army men, something seemed very wrong. He screamed and cursed me when I unplugged the game and tossed it back into a box in the laundry room. He's four. And I've never seen behaviour or heard words quite as horrifying as the ones that have come out of his mouth of late.
Television is pretty tightly moderated here, so I feel confident it was the game working through him. It's disgusting really. And to think that in other homes kids are exposed to endless hours of this, often times with much worse violence and graphics. It was a wake-up call for me, and I think a perfect time to de-program and rethink how we want to spend our "free time."
I'm starting small...with "dark nights" on Wednesdays. It's our one evening that we currently have no sports, book clubs, Conquest, or any lessons/practices to leave the house for. Tonight we turned off the tv and spent the hours reading out loud, playing "go fish," and even made time for a single decade of the rosary together. It was wonderful...and nobody complained one bit.
Sam (my 3rd grader, who has yet to acquire a real like, let alone love of reading) asked if we could read again tomorrow night. YES! This is shaping into a great launching point for lent, when we may just have to unplug completely.
Thank you God for opening my eyes to realize the affects of some of the garbage we call "entertainment" before these little hearts and minds were altered forever.
(oh, and on a side note...to update: Frank is still hating on everything...those shananigans started before the games. But he does it with a little smirk now, which gives me hope that he'll get bored with trying to push that button soon.)