Twinning: I’ve Become Less Anti-Video Games As My Kids Have Gotten Older

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kidsonipadHaving twins can be the most amazing experience of your life. It can also cause you to wake up in the morning wishing you were someone else. Twinning offers an honest depiction of life with twins from a mom who tries to keep things somewhere in the middle.

When my twins were three, my stance on video games and iPhone apps was pretty extreme: not allowed. I wasn’t anti-technology; I just felt that 3-year-olds would benefit infinitely more from doing things in the real world rather than on a video screen. I wanted to make sure they could use actual crayons and markers before they had a virtual palette at their fingertips. I wanted them to be able to kick a ball across the yard before they tossed them across video fields with a controller. I also saw no need to introduce them to the world of video games when we’d just barely introduced Candy Land.

The kids’ 3-year-old friends who were adept at using their mother’s iPhones didn’t impress me. If anything, they cemented my resolution that my phone is not a toy, and I was not going to be commanded to hand it over every time Allie and Nick felt bored. At that time, I hadn’t made the switch to the iPhone, so there was no real temptation anyway to hand my phone over for anything other than looking at pictures.

My anti-video game stance continued as my twins went from preschool to kindergarten. I still felt that they had so much to discover in the real world, anything less than hands-on interaction seemed like a waste of time. Watching my friends’ older children ignore everything and everyone while hunched over a DS or some other gaming device didn’t make me want to run out and buy a couple for my kids either.

But while I shunned video games, it wasn’t like I was raising little Amish people. I was well aware of the value of being computer-savvy in today’s society, so I was careful to keep what I considered an age-appropriate amount of technology available to them. My kids had Fisher Price laptops, toy cell phones, and plenty of interactive Leap Frog toys. They were as comfortable Skyping with our British relatives on my laptop as they were asking “Can you Google that?” when I didn’t know the answer to one of their many questions. They didn’t know how to play Angry Birds or work an iPhone, but computers and modern technology were nothing new for them.

When Allie and Nick were five, my parents bought them an iPad for Christmas. I was reluctant to introduce it to them at first. While I’d read a few articles that said video games could have positive effects on children, I wasn’t completely convinced. Memories of my Tetris addiction and the hours I wasted in high school perfecting the jab/punch sequence need to knock out Mike Tyson made me wince with regret. I didn’t want antisocial children who buried their heads in a gaming device, and I didn’t want couch potatoes who’d rather play football on a DS than in the backyard.

But at the same time, I’d heard great things about the iPad so I decided to start slowly, purchasing an app called “Montessori Number Board.” It’s possibly the most boring “game” you could play—putting tiles numbered 1 to 100 in order on the screen—but I liked it because it was educational and the kids thought it was amazing because they hadn’t seen anything like it before.

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