Video Vexation: How Nintendo Turns Kids into Zombies
“Time’s up,” I say to my seven-year-old son.
He’s sitting hunched over in the corner. All I can see is the top of his head, but I can hear his thumbs clicking over the keyboard on his Nintendo controller. As usual, my son acts like he can’t hear me. I cough and shift my baby, James, on my hip.
“Time’s up,” I say a bit more firmly.
“I gave you an extra ten minutes.”
“No, you didn’t!”
He spits out didn’t as if he’s exasperated by me—it’s an interesting switch in his inflection. This dynamic happens often these days when it comes to Nintendo. My little addict thinks of all kinds of mind games to keep getting his fix. I try to remain calm, but the conversation goes on like this for a few more rounds as we debate whether or not he actually had a full thirty minutes of video game time. Then, when my son finally realizes that he can’t argue about the accuracy of the kitchen timer, he gives in.
“Okay, fine. I’ll stop,” he sputters.
Amazingly, even as he says he’ll stop playing, his fingers continue racing over the keyboard. He looks up and I can see from the crazed look in his eyes that he’s struck upon another idea.
“Hang on, I’m in the middle of a battle,” he says about the Pokémon game that is his newest obsession—as if that excuse should buy him more time.
I can feel my heart start to race as my anger builds. “Enough! Cut it off.”
“You don’t understand!” he fumes dramatically.
When I finally go over and take the controller from him, he wails, thrashes like a mid-tantrum two-year-old, and then grabs the device from me and throws it across the room.
“Well, that settles that,” I say.
My seven-year-old honor student then stomps down the stairs, tears streaming down his face, as he screams something about losing his level since I wouldn’t let him save the game. I can’t remember all of the specifics; all I can think is that if I had dared to speak to my mom that way when I was his age, I would have gotten my ass kicked. Just the thought of my mother’s telling my father about anything I’d done wrong terrified me into obedient silence. How can it be that my son has absolutely no fear whatsoever? He isn’t afraid of me or his dad. And it’s not like we don’t ever punish him. He’s been grounded, he’s had favorite toys or sweets taken away, and, yes, dare I say it, he has been spanked before. Somehow, when it comes to video games, no punishment frightens him. My seven-year-old behaves like a deranged teenager whenever his time with Nintendo is up, and I think it’s high time that little device and others like it break “accidentally” or get lost for good.
Any of you with me? I think all moms who feel the same way should band together, find the perfect spot for a secret burial ground, and create a mass grave for these awful devices. Better yet, I say someone should kidnap the makers of Nintendo and give them a special time-out. As they sit in the corner, thinking about what they’ve done wrong, they’ll hear recorded temper tantrums of children across the country. These children will be screaming, whining, and wailing—which usually lead to begging and pleading for more Nintendo time. Each episode will end with a parent’s firm voice saying, “Enough!”