Friday, May 25, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

A box can spark imagination more than an iPad

When I was a child, technological games were in their infancy.

One of the most exciting new games involved two electronic lines bouncing a computerized "square dot" back and forth to simulate a tennis game.

They called it Pong, and it really got fun when you made the lines shorter and sped the ball up.

Suffice it to say, computer games have come a long way since the 1970s. Parents face a challenge in balancing the overabundance of electronic fun with alternative efforts of mental stimulation.

As I observe parents allowing children who are not old enough to read play with video games, I wonder if creating electronic dependency at such a young age is a positive development.

No matter how I tried to slow the influx of computer games coming into our home, it seemed impossible without becoming Amish.

When our oldest son was about 7 years old, I found him to be quite creative.

He wanted a Nintendo DS so badly that he created a paper version by taping cutout sections of paper together to simulate the game. After watching my son play with this for about a school term, we broke down and purchased the device.

Nevertheless, my kids still seem a generation behind their peers regarding electronic games. By the time we purchased a Nintendo Wii system, other kids had moved on to other systems, and so it goes.

As parents, we found that we had to limit the amount of time our kids played with computers or watched television on their iPad.

Boredom can induce an amazing amount of creativity, however, if it is properly channeled.

When in doubt, a simple box is always the key. My children asked for boxes to make their own racetrack of varying heights, the boxes held together by random household items.

They build forts made out of blankets and pillows. They created plays and held skits that were delightful, especially to my wife.

My wife has helped me cope with the clutter that comes with this creativity as we find ways to balance the amazing technological wonders that exist. They film their plays on an iPad now, and build simulated cities in something called Minecraft.

However, when all else fails, get the creative juices flowing with a box, because it's cheaper and it never gets old.

Keith Berry is a married father of two who lives in the Westchase area.

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