Literacy Online Project - Serving
Educators Around The World
Media Literacy Review
Center for Advanced Technology
in Education - College of Education - University of Oregon - Eugene
Taking Back the
Managing Nintendo Use at Home
Author: Kathleen Tyner
Some tips for parents who
fear that their children will be sucked off into the Nintendo universe
never to return in human form:
Kathleen Tyner is founder of
Strategies for Media Literacy. Reprinted permission of author. Copyright
1991 Kathleen Tyner.
- Who's in Charge Here?
One of the parent's worse fears is that Nintendo erodes parental authority.
Recognize that children use forbidden toys, candy and language to
shock, dismay and outrage their parents in order to establish their
own independence. While this is natural, children also need and respect
boundaries. You have a right and a responsibility as a parent to set
them. Setting boundaries can also cause anxiety. This is such a big
responsibility that it explains why some people remain childless and
raise tropical fish instead.
- Forbidden Fruit: Banishing
Nintendo may work at home, but if your child is a Nintendo freak,
he/she will find someplace else to play, thus setting up a further
erosion of your authority. Better to establish the context and time
limits for the use of computer games: "After you've done your homework,""
One hour before dinner," "Instead of dying your hair blue."
- Free Childcare: Watch
using Nintendo as a babysitter. While it may be an effort, there is
no substitute for your direct involvement with your kids. While media
use gets the kids out of your hair in the short-run, in the long-run
you are creating a Teenage Ninja Turtle who looks something like you
but doesn't respond to your commands. Factor in the use of Nintendo
as childcare at limited times, so that you have control. The hour
after you get home from work may be the exception that proves this
- When to Pry Their Fingers
Loose: For most children, Nintendo games are a stage that will pass.
All good games have a compulsive nature. But look for signs that Nintendo
is becoming a child's whole life, instead of a part of his/her life.
When you notice that your child has not eaten or slept for days, a
trip to the fusebox to manufacture a power outage is in order. Talk
to your kid and start thinking of diversionary tactics.
- If You Can't Say Something
Nice: Chances are if you say only negative things about the game,
your child will love it all the more. Talk about Nintendo use with
your child. Become conversant in Nintendo-ese. Try to inject your
concerns without polarizing the argument. Warning: Faking Nintendo
knowledge is likely to produce even worse results than ranting and
- Who's Footing the Bill?
Take a look at the software you buy. Do you really want war, violence,
sexism and racism in you living room? You can get that on tv for free.
Even if they can play the forbidden software at a friend's house,
at least you have conveyed you family's values. Be prepared for withering
looks and loutish mumbles from the little darlings. They'll thank
you for it later.