Valerie Steimle is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormon” woman). She has been writing as a family advocate for the past 20 years. She is the mother of nine children living in southern Alabama and is the author of four books and a weekly newspaper column, Thoughts from the Heart.

Mormon Families Instructed to Spend Time Wisely

One of the most favorite past times of teenagers is playing video games. Hours upon hours of time are spent pushing buttons or moving joy sticks. As a leisure time activity, this allotment of time spent staring at a TV screen is relaxing to the participant but is very distracting in the way of other enterprises. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and a mother of nine children I’m not totally opposed to my Mormon family playing video games, but there are some precautions I would like to share in video game time for children.

1. Time taken away from others. It’s easy to get sucked up into a video game and not realize how much time has gone by. Before you know the whole day has passed and the hours spent playing video games cannot be called back.

Mormon familyFrom a talk given by Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was published in the Ensign Magazine November 2000 (page 66) a poignant ideal is shared. “Near the end of his life, one father looked back on how he had spent his time on earth. An acclaimed, respected author of numerous scholarly works, he said, ‘I wish I had written one less book and taken my children fishing more often.’ Time passes quickly. Many parents say that it seems like yesterday that their children were born. Now those children are grown, perhaps with children of their own. “Where did the years go?” they ask. We cannot call back time that is past, we cannot stop time that now is, and we cannot experience the future in our present state. Time is a gift, a treasure not to be put aside for the future but to be used wisely in the present.”

We are given so much time in the day. We can either spend it helping each other and accomplishing something good or waste it participating in what seems like leisure but in actuality is harmful in large doses. Your child is only under your roof for 18 years and flies by very quickly. An allotted amount of time should be set each week for children playing on video games.

2. War games promote revenge: I was sitting in a Sunday School class a few weeks ago listening to a discussion about how we are taught by the lessons of Jesus Christ in forgiving others. One woman brought up the idea that children playing video war games learn revenge instead of forgiveness. A light bulb went on in my head and the more I thought of that idea, the more I realized how right she is. Not only are there many video games which become very addictive and entice children to play for hours at a time but these same war games children love to play so much teaches that it is better to blow the enemies away by gunning them down then talking out their problems.

Is it better as Christian families to promote inflicting injury or carrying a bitter desire to hurt another of God’s children in the name of winning a game? I think not. Day after day of shooting the enemy can desensitize the ability to think clearly on the more important matters as in communicating with one another and forgiving each other for our faults. Video games don’t promote such ideals especially video war games. Take a good look at what your children are playing and think about the messages these “games” profess.

3. Playing video games promotes lack of physical activity: If a child is so interested in playing video games, then why would he/she inconvenience themselves to run around and play. This is a big distraction from physical activity and creative playing time. When the electricity goes out from storms in our area, it is amazing how children will congregate outside because they are “bored” with nothing to do. They usually busy themselves with simple games and talk. Not so with the distraction of video games. Unless someone tells them specifically “it’s time to turn it off,” they will keep on playing. Why are video games so addictive? According to media literacy specialist, Dr. Charles Ungerleider, “they are very compelling with increasing complexity, so the child becomes more facile, yet wants to know more and learns new skills. While wanting to improve their game isn’t a problem in itself, it becomes one if video games are taking a child away too much from other activities.”

Children need parents to remind them after a certain amount of playing time that videos are over and it’s time for an alternative. It’s an inconvenience for both the parent and the children because the parents know their children should be playing outside or doing other things but children are so preoccupied by these games, they don’t want to stop and complain incessantly when it’s time to move on to something else.

Stick to your guns when you make the ground rules about video games and both parents and children will be happier for it. You will see a difference in your child’ attitude and spend more quality time doing something fun and healthy.

Additional Resources:

We are all part of God’s family. Learn more at the official site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called by friends of other faiths as the “Mormon Church”).

As spirit children of God we have divine potential.

Attend a local meetinghouse.

Valerie’s website: Strengthen Your Home.

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