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  1. #1
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    Children weaned on video-games; a lost hope?

    Sadly I'm sure we all know at last one child in our entourage brought up on a healthy mix of television, video-games and franchise toys to tie it all up. My young cousin is one such kid. He's about 8, and I don't think I've seen him once in the past three years or so without a GameBoy, Nintendo DS, PSP or whatever he was last bought.

    I'm pretty much disillusioned - he's not just going to grow out of it. Naturally it isn't up to me or anyone to tell him what he should be enjoying; but I'm sure most of you here are like me. Like me in the sense that you believe that a lot of people who don't enjoy reading just haven't been shown what a wonderful experience it can be.

    I can't share his .. passion .. for video games or television, which, as an older cousin, is quite frustrating.

    I know he reads Asterix, Titeuf, and other French "bande dessinées". A start, perhaps - but I just don't see it going beyond that without pushing and shoving.

    The idea isn't to push and shove; dear god no. Perhaps the mothers and fathers on this board can share their experience and advice?

  2. #2
    Registered User vicki_girl's Avatar
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    Well, I'm a mom of two boys. They're still pretty young, but I'll give you what I've got...

    My husband loves Video Games and TV/Movies, but hates to read. He won't touch a book, except Stephen King, which I can't get into. Being a Video Game guy, my husband also has friends that play. Some of them read avidly. Others wouldn't touch a book if their life depended on it. Both of my boys like playing the kids games we have on our system, even though they're both really young (5 and 7). Fortunately, my husband and I started reading to our kids when they were little. The older one can read to himself now and loves it, and I'm pretty sure the little one will be same after he starts school on the Fall.

    In summary, I think that people are readers, or they're not. Enjoying video games (or anything else) is really irrelevant.

    The best solution is to start when they're young. However, in your case, you're already a little behind. I would suggest finding something that really interests him, and getting books related to that as birthday gifts or something. Are there books based off of video games (I can't remember)? Or maybe someone can suggest a book where the main character is a game player.

    We have a forum decidated to Games, maybe some of them can suggest things they like.

    This probably isn't much help though, since you've probably already thought along these lines.....

  3. #3
    Witch of the Woods Miriamele's Avatar
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    Children whose parents share books with them from a young age are sure to grow up enjoying to read--how can they not, when there are so many wonderful books out there?

    I read to both my kids since they were babies and they both truly love books. They do watch tv once in a while, but since I was never very enthusiastic about tv the way I was about books, they don't care about it too much. We often go whole days without ever turning on the tv and the kids don't seem to notice.

    That said, my daughter (who is 8) is really getting into computer games in a big way. And she wants to save up her allowance to buy a Nintendo. A lot of video games are really fun, so I don't blame her. Although I've always been a bookworm, I too used to play a lot of computer games when I was younger. The two things don't have to be mutually exclusive.

    You're probably right that your cousin is going to stay hooked on video games, but that doesn't mean that he'll never enjoy reading as well. If he hasn't been brought up with many books, it might be harder, but it certainly wouldn't be impossible to find something he might like.

    Asterix is better than nothing btw, it's still reading, and anyway he's only 8. I started reading novels myself when I was 6, but my daughter didn't start that until she was 8, and for many children it's later. Some children don't really get into reading until they're 10 or 12.

    The best thing you can do for your young cousin is to show him your own enthisiasm for the great books you're reading. He'll pick up the vibe. If you also show interest in his video games, so much the better, for he won't think you're just an old weirdo.

  4. #4
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    Well, it does in the end all come down to a matter of socio-economic background and determinism; I think the real difficulty is giving a child whose parents have a near-physical version to reading a taste for it. He was never read stories when he was younger; and my impression is that schools don't teach children that books aren't their enemies, at least certainly not hard enough to reverse pre-determined tendencies. I've thought about using his video-game and television universe as a back-door through which to introduce related books.. not looking forward to the "your present sucks" look on his face though.

    Also, I haven't said it but I have absolutely no idea what a kid should be reading at what age. I've completely forgotten when I started to read seriously and what I was reading; but I *do* remember what I most definitely couldn't sink my teeth into, much to my dad's disappointment

    I'm not "seriously worried" yet; there *is* still time as you've both said, but I believe there *is* a point of no return. I eat out with his brother (who's.. 28) once or twice a week, and the subject of books has often come up - he managed to wean himself off video games, albeit a bit late, but hasn't managed to develop an interest for reading. He mentioned several "mentors" who angled him in the right direction at several points in his life, but it never lasted long enough. He was never taught to enjoy books and at this point, he doesn't think he can teach himself.

    Enthusiasm is contagious, having said all that.
    Last edited by FuzzBunneh; May 8th, 2007 at 09:43 AM.

  5. #5
    Witch of the Woods Miriamele's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FuzzBunneh View Post
    I've thought about using his video-game and television universe as a back-door through which to introduce related books.. not looking forward to the "your present sucks" look on his face though.
    Aw, well you won't know until you try. It's true that there are a lot of "novelizations" out there of popular cartoons and video games, which your cousin may enjoy. I used to work in the children's section of a large bookstore and I was surprised to see how many Pokemon and Dragonball-Z books, and other similar things, used to fly off the shelves. Kids love books that are about familiar characters, even if they are cheesy and badly written.

    Also, I haven't said it but I have absolutely no idea what a kid should be reading at what age. I've completely forgotten when I started to read seriously and what I was reading; but I *do* remember what I most definitely couldn't sink my teeth into, much to my dad's disappointment
    There is nothing that a kid "should" be reading at that age. Some 8 year olds can handle The Lord of the Rings with little difficulty, while others are still reading picture books. Most are somewhere in between, and the reading level at that age doesn't necessarily predict how good a reader he or she will be as an adult. Kids just develop different skills at different times, is all.

    I'm not "seriously worried" yet; there *is* still time as you've both said, but I believe there *is* a point of no return. I eat out with his brother (who's.. 28) once or twice a week, and the subject of books has often come up - he managed to wean himself off video games, albeit a bit late, but hasn't managed to develop an interest for reading. He mentioned several "mentors" who angled him in the right direction at several points in his life, but it never lasted long enough. He was never taught to enjoy books and at this point, he doesn't think he can teach himself.
    I've known many people like your older cousin, who simply never learned how to appreciate books and manage to make it to adulthood without reading anything but the books they were forced to pick-apart in English class. (How indeed can someone learn to enjoy books when they are taught that each book must be analyzed to death, that there is one "right" interpretation, and if what you get from it is different from what the teacher got from it, you're wrong!)

    I also find it sad that some people have no access to the rich inner life that reading brings. I disagree with your cousin though--I think it is possible to learn, even at the advanced age of 28. (I'm 28, btw. ) He may just have to read a whole bunch of different things until he figures out what he likes. Reading does take effort, and time.

    Enthusiasm is contagious, having said all that.
    Absolutely! Showing your enthusiasm is the best thing you can do for both your cousins, and I think it's really sweet that you care about them so much.

  6. #6
    I want to be a princess sic's mom's Avatar
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    I am the mother of three teens and to this day it still amazes me that two people could create three more and they are so totally different from one another. My oldest is like me. She loves to read and her goal in this life is to have me walk into a bookstore one day and buy one of her books off the shelf. She loves to read and always has her nose in a book. And if not reading then is writing something. My second on the other hand is a total video game freak. If I could get him to crack a book open I would think the world was coming to an end. His free time is spent playing games with his friends online and checking out what new games are coming out. My youngest is somewhere in the middle. If she finds a book she likes she will stick with it till she is done with it, but to find new books and authors is not a driving force with her. I used to worry about them, but found they will do what they like the most so gave up trying to force reading on them. Especially since my son who doesn't really want to read has the best overall grades of the three. He is going to a high school this year that will focus on computers and graphics because his dream is to develop and help make video games. Maybe someday he will find the love and joy I and his sister do in books, but if he doesn't that is ok. I still don't understand the joy he finds in video games so I guess that makes us even

  7. #7
    Master Obfuscator Dawnstorm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FuzzBunneh View Post
    I've thought about using his video-game and television universe as a back-door through which to introduce related books.. not looking forward to the "your present sucks" look on his face though.
    An idea to get around that look is to avoid framing the present as a "present". What I mean by that is: don't give it to him for his birthday or for Christmas. Don't wrap it up. Just hand it to him and tell him you thought he might like that. If he doesn't, don't repeat. If he does...

    The your-present-sucks look is the response to disappointed expectations. If there are no expectations to disappoint, there shouldn't be the look. You might get the why-do-you-think-I-would-like-a-book look, though.

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