On portable gaming devices

by Jess

During a recent trip to Panera, I spotted a smartly dressed man dining with his preteen son.  They were seated at one of those obnoxiously small round tables, and the man was reading a newspaper, while his son had a Nintendo DS pressed against his nose.  As C. put it, “Let’s go out to eat so we can ignore each other!”

I’m not a fan of the DS.  I think children should be forced to engage with other people and the world around them, not constantly entertained.  (Consequently, I am also not a fan of DVD players in cars or most children’s television programming (and, tangentially, children’s music, which is truly awful.  My little guy is napping to Jamie Cullum as we speak).  Scoffers might point out that I only have a nine-month-old and will soon change my tune, but I might reply that scoffers also claimed I would be crying out for an epidural.  I am extremely stubborn and extremely committed to giving my kids the same low-tech, outdoors, imaginative childhood that I enjoyed, which is probably the only reason this will work (because it will)).

So imagine my conflicted joy at seeing the 100 Classic Book Collection for the DS.  I would love to see kids running around reading A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court or The Count of Monte Cristo (although it appears the product is marketed for adults more than for kids — but I don’t know any adults who use a DS), but is a kid who is already attached at the wrist to his portable gaming device really going to be reading instead of playing Mario vs. Donkey Kong?

I’m not convinced.