JOYSTICK: New parental control gadget goes in the wrong direction

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, May 28, 2011

I am usually annoyed by any group that denigrates video games for the hobby’s lack of family values. When I got a press release about the Mikko Que, the latest parental control gadget, I was fed up.

This product supposedly manages your child’s time online, watching TV and playing video games for you by cutting off the power supply after a pre-set time.

Aside from the Mikko Que’s ridiculous website (don’t post fear-inducing links like “Is Internet Addiction a Threat?” and “What is a Video Game Addiction?” that go to another of your web pages without providing outside research), this product capitalizes on a real failure by parents to watch over, and even play with, kids in their own worlds.

Although it’s a common argument by the gaming industry, parents really should know what games their kids are playing and play those games with them. There’s so many benefits to knowing what your child is interested in by the games they play. It’s a great chance to interact with your children and create memories with them.

I can remember when my mom played Donkey Kong with me when I was 6, or when my dad played Street Fighter with me when I was 9. I remember playing Mortal Kombat with my little brother when I graduated high school (he was 6), and to this day we all play Wii Bowling when I visit home.

Video games are today’s army men for boys and tea party sets for girls. Parents, spend time with your children playing their favorite games with them, or watch them play a game.

Be their cheerleader when they solve a difficult puzzle, and maybe drop a hint or two if they get stuck. I’m not advocating you buy them the most violent games out there, but the more you know about your child’s playing habits, the closer you are with them and the less likely they are to look at or play something you don’t want them to.

Don’t rely on a product or a gauge to watch your kids for you. Take responsibility by having fun with your kids.