Saturday, 7 February 2015

Warning!! Before you buy an XBox ...

Do you have teenage boys? I do. I have 2 teenage boys who are, frankly, lovely. Most of the time. They have learnt how to make cups of tea and bacon sandwiches. My work as a mother is done. The one thing that drives me bananas is their addiction to consoles. I say the one thing... I mean the main thing. There are other idiosyncrasies that push my buttons, but on the whole I can cope with them. The whole question of XBox and PS4 however is enough to turn me from mild mannered, yoga loving mother to sledge hammer wielding maniac.

photo courtesy of

Gone are the days of young men sitting quietly in their rooms reading novels... Actually I'm not sure that ever happened. Gone are the days of boys heading off into the woods to make camps with their friends. These days they sit in their rooms wearing head phones, living vicariously through screens.

My sons alternate between being Ultimate Team footballers, worshiped by millions and paid fortunes, and being Ultimate Killing machines, armed to the teeth with automatic weapons, stalking around virtual battle grounds. They join their friends online, all slumped in their darkened bedrooms for hours on end, communicating through microphones like futuristic Ultimate Call Centre Workers.

I don't understand what they enjoy about this. It is the main source of arguments in our house because they want to play all the time. I only let them play at weekends, for a limited time. I hate the way it changes them. They become surly, angry unreasonable and they don't understand why I am so mean. If I could go back in time I would never have bought the damn things.

They say that its their social life - bantering with their friends through head sets and playing games together. They tell me that they revise together on group chat... *tumble weed rolls by...yeah* It worries me that they will turn into fat, smelly, unshaved men in their 30's who are surgically attached to a gaming chair, kept alive through a system of intravenous Dominos.

The only thing that keeps the light of hope alive in me is the fact that they do sometimes venture out into the light. They have not crossed completely to the dark side yet... They still arrange to play real life football with their mates and sometimes they go on a bike ride. Perhaps this is the way of the future? Perhaps I have to accept that the teenage boy of today needs to sit, bathed in the blue light of his console for what seems like endless hours? I suppose this is better than being on the street corner drinking cider. Yes, of course it is.

But if I was the mum of young boys now, facing for the first time the question of whether I should buy some variant of console game.... I would delay, delay, delay!!! I would encourage outdoor pursuits and building of relationships. I would encourage the reading of books!! Hindsight is a tricky thing. At the time we bought them their first Game Boy we thought it was a bit of fun, that we were being lovely parents. But now I look back and I wish we had waited. I hate these things now. I hate that they spend their money on points to buy new players. I hate that we argue over the time spent on them. I spend my time negotiating usage based on completion of homework and household chores.

I have become a Master at Hide the Controller. My house is full of secret places where the little black plastic controls nestle during the week. We have pitched skills, child against mother in the quest to be the Ultimate Controller of the Game. At the moment I think I am winning... but this could just be a figment of my imagination.

As a mother, speaking to you as a parent ... Beware!! Beware the Peril of the XBox and the PS4. Treat them with caution and hold your children close to you. Be the one who is in control. Have rules. These games are insidious. Before you know it your clean, golden child will become a hairy teenager with oversize thumb muscles and an encyclopedic knowledge of automatic weapons and players from La Liga. You have been warned...


Paula. said...

We are engaged in a new regime at the moment whereby all devices Inc. Phones are allowed for a max of 2 hours a day after school( no xbox or ps at all during week).and all must be switched off an hour before bed.
The other evening we all ended up playing jenga and pick up sticks and now we're on to dominoes.long may it last.

joy said...

I feel your frustration, but they do grow out of it - eventually.

Sarah Pellew said...

Sounds good to me Paula! I think once they're weaned off them they actually enjoy doing other things! I thought you might relate to this post!!

Hi Joy! It will be lovely when they do grow out of it!!!

Ash said...


I agree completely..and have not allowed either PSP or Xbox etc into the house yet...and yes my tactic is delay...delay..delay..Something called minecraft is doing the rounds in school and I have said its not the right age for it yet. What age is reasonable to "give in" to these gadgets..?

I allow my 7 year old around an hour a week. I am aware that school gives them computer time so its not complete deprivation. We play board games, cards, arts and crafts etc...(monopoly is the current rage at our home)

Hope the techno fever subsides soon..