Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Leapster

For Z1's fifth birthday, we bought him a Leapster (which comes pre-loaded with games), two games and a case.  After about a month of pretty consistent play, Z1 seemed to have lost interest altogether in the game.  So I went on Ebay to scout some new, more advanced games figuring that he had already mastered the games that he had.  I bought two new games and that seemed to do the trick: Z1 was interested in the game system again.  That lasted about one week and then he started to ignore the game again.
I know already that in terms of learning style, Z1 is a dabbler.  That means that he likes to do a little of this and a little of that.  At times, however, he will find something he really likes and work on it tirelessly.  This was how he was with puzzles for a very long time.  Of course, I went out of my way to get him a wide array of puzzles and now we have a ridiculous collection.  Which he never touches. (Luckily, Z2 is into puzzles now.)   

Z1's learning style is very similar to the hubby's style:  the hubby knows a lot about and is competent in many things.  Recently, he picked up the harmonica and just with books and YouTube, has really taught himself a lot.  Learning the harmonica inspired him to pick up the kette drum again (he had just dabbled with it before) and now, he plays wonderfully.  I mean, it's really awesome to hear him play.  So I'm not really worried about Z1's learning style even though it's almost completely opposite of the way I approach things.  (I normally don't attempt things that I'm not sure I can be reasonably proficient at and then I focus on mastering that thing but these days, I'm trying to be more open and willing to take risks when it comes to learning).

Anyway, I got to wondering whether the issue with the Leapster is a learning style thing or is it a technology thing?  Z1 can play games on the computer for hours if you let him. He constantly asks me to extend his daily one-hour time limit.  He loves to watch my nephews play games on the Playstation.  And he covets his neighbor friends PSP.  So maybe the Leapster is just not as slick visually as these other systems?  Maybe the games are not as modern?  Is it like playing Atari when everyone has moved on to Nintendo?  

I will admit that I'm not in any way a game person.  I never had a game system and the only game I was really ever able to get into and play well is Tetris.  I prefer pen and paper word games.  Sometimes I like puzzles like tangrams.  Mainly I like to write and read.  So I'm having a difficult time figuring out what the problem is because I would like him to use what we bought for him.  At the same time, if it is really that the Leapster is just not as "fresh" as other games out there, I'm not ready to get him a different handheld gaming system. I watch the kids at his swimming class glued to those things.  It's what they do.  I feel like it's just one more distraction to add to the long list of distractions.  One more way to disconnect from the rest of the world.

I feel a bit sensitive about the issue already.  People texting when they very well could have called.  Staring at their phone, looking very busy, as a way to avoid social (polite) interaction at the playground or at a baby shower for that matter.  In a world that I feel is growing more and more difficult, it's pretty obvious to me at least, that we need each other, we need strong communities if we are to survive this economic climate.  Yet, it seems that at this time, there are just more and more things pulling us apart.  We're so "busy" all the time that we hardly have time to be with each other.

So pardon me if I'm not running to get the latest techno gadget for Z1.  I'm not ready yet to have him plugged in all the time although I do wish that spending my money on the Leapster didn't feel like such a waste.  I know that I can place limits on the times he can play with these things just like he's limited on the computer but . . . it really is a struggle to get him off once he's on.  He's human after all and how many adults complain about how hard it is to get away from their Blackberry or laptop long enough to have a real dinner?  Technology is addictive that way and I just think that he's too young right now and I'm not ready.  So it's the Leapster or, as it seems he has chosen, nothing for now.  

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