Translation: Games Are Poison for Children? Looking Back on the Children Who Were Forbidden to Watch TV


Here’s an interesting article that was brought to my attention from that is from the parenting lifestyle site Conobie. This site is known for a variety of interesting topics around family and children. The article in question takes up the topic of managing games when raising children from the point of view of a concerned parent who thinks they aren’t as good for her kids. She talks about the issue from a variety of angles, including very interesting story about parental censorship. The full article is translated below:

Games Are Poison for Children? Looking Back on the Children Who Were Forbidden to Watch TV

Digital devices that weren’t around when we were kids. Lately, new things are coming at an increasingly fast pace. How are you using tablets and games as digital tools in your house? Children love games! Are there not women who get annoyed and blurt out, “All they do is play games …”? This time I would like to think about wise ways to get along with digital tools that tend to become seeds of worry when thinking about raising children. (Conobie / Kaoru Kumano)

“I’m trying my best to get them to experience nature, but as soon as they get home they’re on their iPad (cries)”

I heard these concerns from a certain mother. “I’m trying my best to get them to experience nature, but as soon as they get home they’re on their iPad … ” This mother wants her children to get in touch with nature! And in this way, they’re often trying to create these opportunities for their children. Growing vegetables in their yards, going for walks …

She has two children and both are in the early grades of primary school. Of course, you can also see both of them play with dolls and help out with the housework.

I took a look at the two of them through pictures and thought, “This is good child-rearing time, extremely balanced.” But when she asked me for help about this, I thought, “Hmmm.”

Whether They Get a Chance to Be in Nature, Whatever Their Playing Partner is, In the End Kids Love Games (Laughs)

What made me think, “Hmmm,” is that even for children who get to experience nature in various ways, in the end they pick up on the charm of the games’ freshness and innovation, their colors and sounds. Whether they get a chance be in nature, whatever their playing partner is, in the end kids are attracted to games.

No matter how much a mother warns her kids who get sucked into games, once they know something like exists in the world, when it’s a kid, there are times when they really can’t come to control themselves.

Especially when they see others kids around them getting absorbed into games, that they would want to join in is a constant of human nature.

What Became of the Kids Who Were Forbidden from Watching Regular TV When They Were Younger?

The story will digress for a bit, but … 30 years ago there was a certain child who was raised in a household where it was forbidden to watch TV. Hypothetically, we’ll call that child “Kid A.”

Kid A was of course not only forbidden from watching comedy skits, but dramas and anime too; basically anything that was broadcast on mainstream television. To put it exactly, the parents would censor (laughs) any television program that could be watched and TV that was popular with kids (back then it was The Drifters) was absolutely not permitted to be watched. [Translator’s note: The Drifters were an extremely popular comedy group who appeared in many popular television programs during the 80s. Not that I was alive back then, but even I know about them.]

By the way, Kid A’s household had a Famicom, but it wasn’t for playing Super Mario; it was used to browse the stock market …

When Kid A became a freshman in college, she started watching all the TV she had been forbidden to 24 hours a day, obsessively, in rebellion. She would record all the TV dramas from Monday to Friday. And even when the late night comedy programs would end and the TV would become a sea of static, Kid A still couldn’t turn it off.  To Kid A, everything she saw on those programs was new and fresh.  There was a “space” there that was different from state-run TV, and the very atmosphere and colors used were different.

You might think that’s the end, but Kid A is me. In the end, I continued to be addicted to TV until I was around 26 and then had a reverse rebellion and returned to a life where I don’t watch TV. (laughs)

TV and Games Can Cause Harm, but They Must Surely Also Have Merits

My case may be an extreme example, but for me, somebody who experienced life at both extremes, when you intentionally integrate TV or games into your life, I think there is a merit to it, personally.

It is just but one example, yet when you’ve watched a drama with a truly captivating script, things like the lines, the way the music was used, they can remain in your memory for years and even decades. As well, if you were to take a bad way of looking at it, when you lose and the protagonist’s life is revived in a game, it links to a less serious view of human life. However, if you take a good way of looking at it, that can foster a mental attitude that accepts challenges and knows that you’ll be okay even if you fail.

In TV and games, there is a charm to the sound and the movement that is not there with books or pictures, is there not?

Of course, you can taste those charms in other things. For instance, you can listen to good music, watch a play, or play sports. Even in books, you can imagine that “space” from the voices of the dialogue, the scenery and the colors coming from the prose.

There is a certain logic to that, I think. However, I think you can’t say that because “I don’t play games” or “I don’t watch TV” that this ability to appreciate such things will not be cultivated.

Why Should We Watch TV or Play Games? Let’s Have Our Children and Parents Think of the Merits and Demerits Together

In the end, TV and games are digital devices and a medium where information comes flying at you from somewhere else.

Of course, you can get into them in a very involved way at your own will, but it’s possible to become a passive agent easily. As well, I think it’s also a medium where the possibility of addiction is strong … where you want to stop, but can’t.

Why should our children experience games and TV? Should we let them use iPads and game applications? I think it’s important for yourself and other spousal units to think about the merits and demerits of digital tools. Of course, I recommend that once your children have come to an age where they can think about it, that you do it together as a family, parents and children.

“Why do you want to play this? What types of good things does it have?” I think if you ask these questions, you will get to hear the surprising feelings of your children and it won’t just be “because it’s fun.”

Whatever the Rule, Be Careful of These 2 Things!

When you decide what axel your family will follow around the use of digital tools, then it’s just putting it into practice. Because these are family rules, there’s no need for you to be led astray by the opinions around you.

However, I’d like to warn you about 2 things, not just for kids, but for adults as well.

1. It’s best to stop using digital tools 2 hours, if possible 3 hours before sleeping

The backlight from digital devices (basically the light that hits from behind the TV or game console, PC or smart phone) stimulates the nerves in the sympathetic nervous system which governs things like excitement and nervousness. For human beings, unless the parasympathetic nervous system of nerves that governs relaxation and drowsiness is not in a good condition, it will not let you enter into sleep. In other words, if you’re touching digital devices just before you go to sleep, it can lead to you not getting to sleep.

2. The angle of your neck

Not just with TV, but with tablets and smartphones, it’s likely that you tend to use them with your neck facing down. If you’re facing that way for a long time, it can become a factor in headaches or shoulder cramps, to the extent that there are now symptoms named “smartphone neck.” If you try to use them with a posture that’s facing straight on, you won’t get worn out.

In Conclusion

 How about it? It’s best if you use digital tools like tablets, games, TV and such well to fulfill your lifestyle like a modern person and aren’t used by them. Talk about it with your family, keep in mind the things that you need to be careful of and wisely interact with digital tools!

We often hear so much about GAMES WILL DO to your children and not much about what PARENTS CAN DO for their children with games, don’t we?

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