It’s the last weekend of the summer and if you have a preteen- teenager- tweenager boy in the house you might also be at your wits end with the amount of screen time this summer.
George Foxworthy has the redneck jokes, but if you could change that to Parent of a Gamers jokes it might go like this.
If by Labour Day your child’s skin colour is still white as snow, you might be Parent of a Gamer.
If your son asks to get more AA batteries for the wii remotes but the grass is two weeks over due for a cut and the lawnmower needs no gas, you might be a Parent of a Gamer.
If your home internet usage is more after 2 am than at 10 am, you might be a Parent of a Gamer.
I come from a generation where gaming was first introduced. Pong, Pacman, and Frogger. In grade school I had only a few friends who liked to play video games and there were many hours burned up looking at tube style TVs and hyped up on Jolt Cola. It was a novelty though as it would be a bit of a flash in the pan and then we were back out to play doing whatever else indoors or outside.
I do think things have changed since 30 years ago when it comes to the number of young gamers, particularly young boys from maybe 7 to 27 that are to call video games a novelty with a short shelf life. Instead more and more treat video games as a decent way to pass time. Or worst yet, can be considered addicted to gaming and find friends with very similar interests.
An interesting stat compared to my childhood the 1970s and 80’s, children now spend 50 percent less time in unstructured outdoor activities. Children ages 10 to 16 now spend, on average, only 12.6 minutes per day in vigorous physical activity. Yet they spend an average of 10.4 waking hours each day relatively motionless.
A pole showed these following reasons as the top excuses why kids prefer not going outside.• 80 percent said it was uncomfortable to be outdoors due to things like bugs and heat • 62 percent said they did not have transportation to natural areas, and • 61 percent said there were not natural areas near their homes.
Let’s not put the blame entirely on the kids, additionally a survey of Parents of Gamers showed that 50% were worried they might get hit in traffic when playing outside and 40% fear kidnapping by strangers.
Let’s instead think of Gamers as potential anglers of the future. I think there is an opportunity here if we look at it slightly different. Kids that are Gamers have what attributes? I think they are driven to find the ways to win. They will find enjoyment when they do succeed. They essentially are not scared of a challenge. If looking at fishing and what it takes to catch fish, it is about being persistent to try and catch fish. Where fishing doesn’t match up, it’s where you can try very hard, even do everything correctly, but you might not succeed. You might not catch a fish or as many fish as last time. Measuring success is not about how many levels you made to get where you are. It like starting a new video game every day.
In July I had to pleasure in having returning guests to the boat. A father and son annual fishing trip. This time, however, the son invited his friend to come along for a fishing trip. His first time ever fishing. The two late teenager boys are self-proclaimed gamers. So much so that in the past I remember the teenager arriving at the dock in the morning without sleeping after hours of gaming throughout the night. No pity we said, “fish will not wait for us, lets get out there”
This year was very interesting because his friend Steven was seeing fishing for the first time. This was like starting a brand new video game, to him. After fitting lifejackets and explaining the safety items on the boat and what to expect for fishing that morning, we motored out to our fishing grounds. In a side conversation I was told he suffers from anxiety and gaming is one of the many triggers that sets him off. Steven is addicted to gaming but also addicted to his school work. Second addiction doesn’t sound too bad right? It is bad. He doesn’t except having anything less than perfect and he works and works until it is.
His anxieties over the dangers of water, the fear of losing a fish and wondered if his inexperience will take away from the experience of others throughout the trip, had him bashful of participating fully. Having new to fishing people on a trip I try to explain that we don’t catch every fish we hook and sometimes we don’t always hook a fish to begin with. Its fishing. Measuring success is not possible. Each day we are handed a new units of measure. A big fish to one person is a small fish to another. 1 fish is a lot of fish some days, and 20 fish can be less than expected on some days. Success in fishing is not equally calibrated by measured by levels in a video game, or number of points. Maybe the lack of true measure is exactly what a gamer needs as an alternative to see success differently?
Steven’s anxiety was interrupted 10 minutes into our trip when I handed him the rod with a fish on the other end, taking line off the reel while it was in his hands. He was no longer anxious as his concentration was fully on the task at hand. The feeling of a powerful fish, the sound of the reel drag screaming for mercy was obviously like no video controller could ever simulate.
“What do I do? what do I do?” he said. We smiled and like it was already understood by the rest of us on the boat, “welcome to fishing, enjoy this, this doesn’t happen every day”. He learned quickly while working the rod and reel to fight the fish toward the boat and it was nearly within sight at the back of the boat when the line broke.
Steven had no time to be disappointed, the other downrigger rod popped up and I hand over another rod to place in his hand. This time he worked the rod like he was experienced. I wondered if the quick learning and dexterity was from gaming. Maybe a gamer’s brain is trained to adjust and learn quickly or you lose the game. He brought in his first fish an 11 lbs Lake Trout.
If you are a Parent of a Gamer, you might be frustrated, maybe even disappointed that the summer has slipped by without your son participating in constructive things. Your family vacation to the cottage for a week might have provided the much needed break from all that screen time. Consider other opportunities to try other outdoor activities. My son is enrolled in Scouts, it’s a wonderful program I recommend. It is possible to distract your son away from video games outside your scheduled summer holidays. Consider fishing, a hike in the woods, or maybe a day canoe trip. If you like to try fishing but don’t have fishing equipment or feel like you might not be able to find a good spot to catch fish, hire a guide.
Steven, along with many other young boys, that have been gamers for far too long, have many attributes that would make them great fisherman. Let them try fishing. I think it can be the needed outdoor activity to reduce curb screen time.