Last year, much against our wishes, we bought H a Play Station (after daring him to an almost impossibly consistent score in his spelling tests which he went to achieve, to our complete shock).
With strict rules in place - that he'd play only on weekends and only within specified time slots and not at the cost of outdoor play or studies - we left him to it. However we still weren't too happy with the games he played. He enjoyed some WWE kind of fight moves, which he proceeded to try out on N.
Then H found a new friend, A, with an X Box and a passion for dancing and he got hooked. They'd spend hours together before his XBox copying the moves.
..holidays we had a family get together. With the oldest cousin at 15 years and the twins at 8, they found they had little in common. There were days when we stumbled upon them all sitting together busy with tabs, computers, iPods and the television with zero interaction among themselves.
The sight was depressing to say the least.
Come New Years Eve we decided to have a 'talent show'. And H showcased his dancing skills. He's quite bad actually, but hours of practice, simple steps and groovy music made the difference and before we knew it all the kids had joined in one by one and were dancing together.
And then they were dancing
Since then the PS3 has been put to such good use. What's more, you don't even need a PS3 or an XBox. Our oldest one, the family techie, hooked up the laptop to the television, tuned into YouTube and the kids had a wealth of dance videos to follow. It was such happiness to watch them - the good and the bad, the shy and the uncoordinated ... all together. Once H's glasses went flying off but he didn't pause to pick them up continuing to squint at the screen yet dancing away. What a sight it was!
We were pretty happy because...
The kids were all having fun in a good, healthy way.
They kept busy.
They had some great exercise.
They kept away from tabs and laptops.
And they bonded.. Wonderfully.
If you're fed up of your children playing mindless games on the PS3 or the XBox try getting them a dance CD. Or simply switch on to Youtube. What's more you can join in too, even if you have two left feet. If an uncoordinated 8 year old can do it, well so can you. And if you're still feeling self-conscious check out their video - No, don't watch it, just listen to the music and the laughs.
You can check out the original video they are trying to copy.