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Nintendo "DS": Device of Satan?


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#1 diary~dad

Posted 11 April 2011 - 04:14 PM

DS: Device of Satan?

Recently I arranged to meet my sister at a local park.  It was a perfect autumn day with the sun bright and the air cool but not yet crisp.  The sort of day that makes you feel guilty for not being outside.

As soon as I saw my sister loitering around the monkey bars I knew all was not well.  While her daughter Charlie was making the most of the mid-afternoon sunlight, her 7 year-old son Max was immersed in a mood as black as a coal miner’s armpit (and as someone who has spent a lot of time with colliery workers, I can honestly say their armpits are the blackest going round).  Large comical thunderclouds seemed to be rolling past his brooding head.

“What’s up with Max” I asked.

“Oh, the bloody DS” she answered.  “Oh, the DS” I nodded in agreement.  The DS? The Dear Sunshine? Some rare medical condition: Drearius Solitudus?  What on earth is a DS?

“He’s been playing the thing all morning and now he’s having a tantrum because we’ve taken it away” Paulette helpfully continued.  By this stage I’d worked out that a DS was a game.

Paulette explained that they had originally bought the DS as a sort of reward and punishment system.  If he was good, he got to go on the DS.  If he was bad, he lost his rights to the DS.  This seemed like a great idea at the time and Max even agreed to sign a written contract setting out all the terms of use, how time on the DS could be earned or lost, that the DS was only for weekends and that when his time was up on the DS he would promptly and politely return it to his parents.  This Max signed with enthusiastic promises to abide to the written word.

“But it makes no difference what we do” said Paulette. “It’s like he’s in a trance when he’s on the DS.  And he won’t give it back no matter what he’s threatened with.  When he has the DS it is all he cares about, and when it is gone he’s sulky.  It is like the DS is ruling our lives.” At this point I made a very quick mental note – don’t ever get a DS.  Simple.  And given that none of my three girls had ever asked for one, even easier.

Leaping ahead a couple of weeks and my 8 year old daughter Maisie came home from school and, quite pointedly, asked me why she didn’t have a DS. “Everybody else has one” are the time honoured, immortal words that ended her request.  I was tempted to channel Jack Nicholson, slam the table and scream “You Can’t Handle the DS!”, but instead said what all dads say in this situation and agreed to think about it.

The next day at work I approached Martin the parenting guru and asked him whether a DS is Satan’s work or something useful for the kids.  Martin was very much in the ‘pro’ DS camp, having a very active 10 year old who, as Martin explained it, would do just about anything to earn time on the DS (including promptly and politely returning it to his parents when his time was up).  Martin also explained that the reason they had first bought the Ds was to keep the kids off the computer.  While it is hard to monitor the kids’ activities on the internet unless you’re standing right next to them, on the DS you know exactly what they’re up to.  Plus many of the games can be educational.

So now I’m in a bit of a bind.  Is a DS a blessing or a curse?  A parenting aid or a rod for your own back?  Does it depend on the age of the child? The time spent on the DS? What have been your experiences?


#2 twotoddlers

Posted 12 April 2011 - 01:01 AM

I think if you let your child spend too much time on it then yes is is a curse.. They get so used to it that you'll have a hard time getting them to focus on anything else. It may be great to distract them or preoccupy them while your busy.. or in that case as a reward.. but let them know that there is the still a world outside of DS..

#3 diary~dad

Posted 12 April 2011 - 09:02 AM

Thanks for the reply twotoddlers - are you saying too much of anything is a bad thing or just too much of the DS?  My sister's feeling is ANY time on the DS is too much for her son.  Perhaps he's just not old enough for it? Maybe it's just him? I welcome further thoughts.

#4 Victory

Posted 12 April 2011 - 02:52 PM

My children don't have a DS. We have no plans to purchase one. All of our children have a lot of difficulty transitioning themselves away from 'screens'.
30 minutes on the computer can lead to more resistance and arguments than the quiet time is worth original.gif
TV creates the same 'monster'. They just want more, more, more. If we have a lazy wet weekend, with more screen time than usual, then I can guarantee that the 3 year old will ask for TV non-stop for the next 2-5 days. If the TV is not on at all over the weekend, then she won't ask for it the following week at all.

I, personally, don't like them (DS) but will admit that I have never seen or touched one wink.gif
I just think that there are so many brilliant, exciting, engaging things for kids to do, both active and passive, inside and outside, that we just have no need to have that sort of thing in our house.

Good luck with your decision!

#5 diary~dad

Posted 12 April 2011 - 03:20 PM

Great response Victory - we have exactly the same problem here.  If the girls are in front of the TV for too long I have to take them down to the park to blow away the screen gaze that seems to burn the back of their minds.  I had thought that because the DS required more input (in that it is not as passive as TV) the problem may not be so bad with a DS.  Anyone with a DS have a view?

#6 kpingitquiet

Posted 12 April 2011 - 03:23 PM

We're pretty anti-DS when it comes to kiddo. Some folks are giving their 3 and 4 yos ipod touches, "DSi"s, iphones, etc, so even with an infant, it's something we've been asked if we're considering  wacko.gif We're both techy type folks and gamers, too, we just don't see the need for a zombie-maker when there are a million other things a kid can do, love, and have taken away if they're naughty! That, and I find the cost of such devices ridiculous for a child. I barely trust myself with $300 of handheld gizmodom, much less a child. If there isn't a developmental issue that would be eased by using the DS, then I generally lump them in the Device o' Satan category. Probably the same reasoning that kept my parents from getting me a Gameboy, and I somehow survived.

#7 Bluenomi

Posted 12 April 2011 - 03:26 PM

I love mine  biggrin.gif

DD is far too young yet (though she likes to chew on the stylus) but I'd perfer it to TV any day for kids. Much better than a portable DVD player most kids seem to have these days

#8 cugel

Posted 12 April 2011 - 09:04 PM

Our policy is that the children need to experience the real before the virtual.

#9 Ruf~Feral~es

Posted 12 April 2011 - 09:13 PM

I have a 6 year old and a 7 year old, and think the DS is WONDERFUL.  It has assisted us in traveling overseas twice, boring adult dinners, kept DS happy during his sisters dance lessons, kept DD happy during her brothers piano lessons.  

There are educational games, crappy games, whatever you choose.  Personally, if my son likes to learn maths skills or my daughter likes to learn spelling skills through a game - I'm happy.  Learning is learning.  

It might add to the parenting challenge - the parent needs to manage it.  My kids know when it is DS time, and they know to give it back without complaint, or they will not see it again for a long time.

Don't blame the DS for a child's black mood.  Or the TV, DVD, computer or any other screen.  Blame the parent for not teaching boundaries.  

All things in moderation.

Basically, anything that can keep two tired children quiet and happy in an airport for 2 hours, without fighting, is a gift from God, not a device of satan.

Edited by Ruffles, 12 April 2011 - 09:16 PM.


#10 Kay1

Posted 12 April 2011 - 09:17 PM

Like everything moderation and consistency is the key in my opinion. My oldest son is completely into screens of any sort. He is just a very visual person and loves the challenge of computer games etc. He has a Leapster and we have a Wii which he is allowed to play on the weekends for a finite one off period. It is the one thing he really cares about and it IS taken away if he misbehaves. This includes if he does not turn it off when we ask him to.  There are some games (and one tv show) that have a very adverse affect on his behaviour and even he recognises that now so they are banned.

He would walk over hot coals to play my iphone but I generally keep it for when he needs to wait for a long period. He is certainly not allowed to play any of these things while we have company or if we are out at the park etc. I believe kids need to learn to live with these things and keep them in balance with the rest of their lives. I talk to my son about how the games are addictive and how to recognise when you need to turn them off and get outside, read a book, play something else. I have no plans to get him a DS now but when he is 8 or 9 I will if he asks for one. Although I suspect by then they'll have been superceded by iphones/pads.

#11 twotoddlers

Posted 13 April 2011 - 12:58 AM

QUOTE (diary~dad @ 12/04/2011, 10:02 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thanks for the reply twotoddlers - are you saying too much of anything is a bad thing or just too much of the DS?  My sister's feeling is ANY time on the DS is too much for her son.  Perhaps he's just not old enough for it? Maybe it's just him? I welcome further thoughts.


happy.gif too much of anything is a bad thing. especially something like DS that can turn your child into a zombie.. limit is key.. limit to time and limit to the places he can bring them to..

I think its okay as long as they can let it go after an hour.. If they start to protest when you ask them put it down for a couple of minutes then you know its a problem.. Age doesn't really matter as long as the child understands it is like any other toy.. it shouldn't be brought to the table during dinner.. it shouldn't be on or even given to them when they need school work done.. etc.




#12 FeralEsme

Posted 13 April 2011 - 03:42 PM

QUOTE
Don't blame the DS for a child's black mood. Or the TV, DVD, computer or any other screen. Blame the parent for not teaching boundaries.

All things in moderation.


I agree with this.

And I also think it depends a bit on the child. My older two boys have a DS each. The youngest has a Leapster Explorer. The youngest and oldest play their games maybe once a week on average. My middle boy, if he was allowed, would play his DS in every spare waking moment he has, so he has pretty strict rules around his game playing. If he doesn't hand over the DS when his time is up, then it is removed until he earns it back. And if he has a melt down and won't give it back, then we follow through - he's currently part way towards earning his DS back after cracking the sh*ts over it having to be put away a few weeks back!

But yes, they are fabulous things when travelling or having to wait around in a boring situation for a period of time.

At the end of the day it's like anything in parenting - it's up to the parent to set the boundaries and be consistent (and the big one is following through!).

Edited by Jemstar, 13 April 2011 - 03:45 PM.


#13 kemisz

Posted 13 April 2011 - 03:49 PM

There was once a time when the Radio was considered the Device of Satan and no good parent would let their child listen to it.

Or go back to the time when books influenced your children and caused them to become shameless and prideful!  Those evil books and the evil parents who let their children read!  *Shakes fist in old timey way*

It's all about how you parent and sometimes it's just about demystifying the new technology.



#14 mumofsky

Posted 13 April 2011 - 04:03 PM

I hate "The DS". DD's DS (there's a confusing sentence) caused her all sorts of problems that mimicked the symptoms of Tourette Syndrome and even had one doctor send her for an MRI to see if something was putting pressure on her brain - it turned out to be the bloody use of her DS. Since identifying it we've tested it out by going without it for weeks then letting her on it for a day - sure enough, the symptoms come straight back. Nervy, twitching, head-shaking, repetitive speech.

It's actually in the warning manual. The new 3D DS isn't recommended for use by children under 7 at all.

#15 blaast

Posted 14 April 2011 - 01:15 PM

We have four kids aged 2 (DD), 5 (DS), 6 (DD) and 9 (DD) yo and 3 of them have DS's, and our youngest occasionally plays a Leapster.

They have tremendous fun together and learn cooperation, patience, encouragement, imagination and responsibility!
It is rare for things to go bad, and if they do they are dealt with swiftly by threatening a 'Nintendo' ban...which does the trick.

None of our children are lacking in social skills due to too much gaming, in fact far from it as they are more outgoing than many kids of their age.
They play together really well...of course with the typical occasional argument.
They are intelligent, and this is regularly commented on by teachers and family.

The DS certainly hasn't had a negative impact on them, and in fact, I would be more inclined to say they have had a positive influence.

So from our perspective and experience it is more like 'you (the parent) can't handle the DS'.



#16 sugarplumbdolly

Posted 15 April 2011 - 04:58 PM

I'm sure for many families games are not a big problem and can be enjoyed in moderation. Lucky for them! We have a daughter who is fine with them. Then there are other children who have problems no matter how strictly and consistently the parents regulate them. Our son (also named Max, what's in a name hey?) gets more than a little obssessive when it comes to games. We want him to be able to enjoy them in a healthy way but they almost always create frustration and aggression in him (kids games not violent games). He wants to game all the time. Whilst playing he forgets to blink or sit down, he is deaf to us. I totally relate to the 'gaming trance'.
He is rarely allowed to play because his aggression and obssession is so problematic for him and our family, and when he does play it usually ends badly. He is 8yo and understands there will be immediate and unpleasant consequences for the behaviour but he truly seems unable to deal with the frustration build-up. He seems to do better with physically active games where he uses his body eg. Wii Sports.

Neither of our kids have a DS even though "everyone else has one". We have a computer, an xbox and a Wii already. That's enough! Also it does not impress me that the kids have friends with DS's that they play in front of my children when we/they are visiting and ignore everything around them. It is rude and antisocial so I get ticked off with the things.

Edited by sugarplumbdolly, 15 April 2011 - 05:06 PM.


#17 MotherClucker

Posted 15 April 2011 - 06:01 PM

Grandpa guilt at living overseas saw us the proud owner of 4 DSs for our children. They save their pocket money up to buy games or get them as gifts for birthdays/Christmas.

They are brilliant with long car trips, they are great at teaching hand/eye coordination and my 7 year old DDs favorite game is some maths game where she gets quizzed. Could they live without them? Probably? Our kids still go outside and play, they still use their imagination and play with their other toys; they love drawing and coloring in. When your kids get up at 6:30 and are in bed by 7:30 that equates to a lot of hours in the day reserved for playing. We limit ours to 1 hour per day and 2 on weekends.


They are not drop friendly.Especially on slate.

(eta: it is only mildly humorous when my 2 year old starts having a tantrum saying "iwanna dssss" hehe)

Edited by MotherClucker, 15 April 2011 - 06:03 PM.


#18 mummahh

Posted 15 April 2011 - 07:14 PM

Device of Satan. Problem is they are portable. Which means they go everywhere your child goes and you'll never have a face-to-face conversation again. More like face-to-head stuck in DS conversation. i.e lots of grunting, little to no comprehension.

#19 **Tiger*Feral**

Posted 15 April 2011 - 11:53 PM

QUOTE
they go everywhere your child goes and you'll never have a face-to-face conversation again
Then just don't let them.
My 3 older kids have one. My second daughter barely looks at hers. My eldest has patches of playing it a lot, then ages of not at all. My son likes his a lot, but still plays lots of lego, reads constantly, does well at school, and is not addicted to his DS.
I don't get the hysteria. They are nothing new really. I am nearly 40 and I had a double donkey kong game when I was a child, which while obviously much much simpler, was the same sort of thing really. I used to play it on long car trips. I am a fully socially competent adult now!

#20 pomegranate

Posted 09 June 2011 - 10:32 PM

It scares me. I actually think if effects different kids differently.  My son is banned currently. We 'lost' it in our move butthought he was ready after a year without it and within the fi,rst day he was having a melt down.  We arevery strict with it but it makes no difference.  We have also had another 'computer game' that i have put away even though he got exercise with it, i believe he becomes addicted.  I really think it alters his brain some how.  I dont believe all children react the same.  He is normally a loving, outdoor loving, sensitive, smart child.  But give him a computer game and  he is 'different' and becomes agressive and obssessive.  At the end of the day, i survived without these things so i am sure he will too.  

Hth.

#21 MidnightDad

Posted 25 February 2013 - 01:38 PM

A DS is not a problem, not at all, its what game you allow to be stuck in it and how the kid personally reacts to it. Depending what you allow and for how long you will either be doing your kid a great favor and enhancing their intelligence and enjoyment of the world or you will be turning it into a device that damages their development and socialization.

#22 ~flaxen~

Posted 25 February 2013 - 04:30 PM

A curse! A curse! Don't go there.

DS1 is effectively banned for life (well until I decide I want him to have it back) and his moods are so much improved. DH has an addictive personality with those sorts of things and I think DS1 has inherited it. I find computer games boring as batsh*t. We did limit his time and were using it as reward/punishment but it just wasn't worth it.

The DS and the computer were all we had until recently when I was given a smart phone.


Edited by ~flaxen~, 25 February 2013 - 04:32 PM.


#23 amabanana

Posted 25 February 2013 - 04:35 PM

QUOTE (Ruffles @ 12/04/2011, 10:13 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I have a 6 year old and a 7 year old, and think the DS is WONDERFUL.  It has assisted us in traveling overseas twice, boring adult dinners, kept DS happy during his sisters dance lessons, kept DD happy during her brothers piano lessons.  

There are educational games, crappy games, whatever you choose.  Personally, if my son likes to learn maths skills or my daughter likes to learn spelling skills through a game - I'm happy.  Learning is learning.  

It might add to the parenting challenge - the parent needs to manage it.  My kids know when it is DS time, and they know to give it back without complaint, or they will not see it again for a long time.

Don't blame the DS for a child's black mood.  Or the TV, DVD, computer or any other screen.  Blame the parent for not teaching boundaries.  

All things in moderation.

Basically, anything that can keep two tired children quiet and happy in an airport for 2 hours, without fighting, is a gift from God, not a device of satan.


I tend to agree with this.


#24 Feral like a Lemon

Posted 25 February 2013 - 04:48 PM

After a year of begging for a DS we relented and bought one for DD (6) for Christmas. We reasoned that she had worked hard during her first year of school and deserved something special.
Christmas day she couldn't get enough of it. Boxing day the same. The following day we went to the beach and the DS was forgotten, and forgotten again the next day and basically forgotten until we boarded our flight to Fiji late January. She sent maybe 30 minutes playing with it on the way there and about the same on the flight back. She hasn't had it out since. I have a feeling we probably won't see it until we head to RSA later this year.


#25 stephanu

Posted 25 February 2013 - 05:33 PM

My DS1 has a DS. He only uses it sometimes because we also have a WiiU, iPad, and the computer which he loves playing games on. I see no problem with him spending half an hour or so a day playing an electronic game. He definitely wants more time on these things but he knows the rules.

We have strict boundaries with electronics. He knows if he fights us about how much time he gets on it that he will have it removed for a week. So, when we say its time to turn it off he will, no arguments. if he does argue he wont get any warnings, its removed straight away. He usually doesn't risk it.

I think its fantastic that he is so computer literate. I think its amazing how much he has learned from games and apps. I just can't fault the effects it has on him. I definitely think its better than TV time because its interactive and generally educational.

If he spends too much time on it, gets grumpy or plays it when he has a friend over, then there is a problem with my parenting, not the DS.





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