“You can’t kill me, I am in creative.” These are the words this Mama Frog heard on Saturday. They are not particularly shocking words, as anyone who plays Minecraft knows. What was interesting is that at the time, this Frog family was in the car, headed off to pick up our new deep freezer. Now, one thing you should know about us Frogs is that we don’t have loads of electronic devices- no Nintendo DS, no iPads, only a couple of inexpensive tablets for schoolwork and Mama Frog’s laptop, along with a couple of desktops and an XBOX 360 (for Papa Frog). Papa Frog and I play World of Warcraft -usually in the fall and winter , and Facebook games happen here more than I care to admit, but we are not the kind of family who is constantly plugged in. It is okay if you are, we just aren’t. So what was going on the backseat, you might be asking?
First of all, you need to understand that Minecraft is huge here on the Pond. It was something the Froglets were introduced to after our friends came to visit last summer, and it has settled in with a vengeance. They enjoy playing Minecraft in their computer time and watching Diamond Mine Cart videos during their free TV time. They even enjoy listening to the Minecraft parodies of songs they have never heard. In fact, I wager, if I let them, they would eat, sleep and breathe Minecraft.
Even if I was inclined to let them self-regulate their computer time, I couldn’t logistically make it work, since they use the computers to play. Instead, I let them play in 30 minute blocks. The blocks come after chores. Generally they come after school work, although some days I give them Minecraft tasks to do as part of their school work. (It’s amazing how versatile this game is). However, what I have noticed is that if they play too much, they get very um, shall we say resistant to turning it off.
Hey, this Mama Frog gets it. Papa Frog and I love our games too. In fact, playing games together has been part of our relationship since the beginning. Whether those games are electronic or not, there is a lot of intrinsic value in playing them together. And the Froglets play together too. Usually they play 2 by 2. But I also understand what it means to make poor choices regarding how much time you are plugged in. The computer can become not just an escape but your life. I want the Froglets to learn some balance.
I know there is a lot of back and forth about Froglets not playing outside enough. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard someone say, “When I was a young frog..” Well, yes, Grandpa Frog, when you were a kid, but times have changed. Froglets aren’t outside all the time, unless they are. But its not the norm in most families, and while we spend our fair share of outdoor time, there are days we are stuck inside. But my point is this- If they are encouraged, Froglets are still engaging in imaginative play. It may not be the “Cowboys and Indians” version from OUR childhoods, but they are still playing. You just have to watch.
That brings me back to that strange conversation overheard in the car. See, what I found out (by just asking) was that my Froglets WERE in the backseat playing Minecraft. Their version of Minecraft, in which they were Steve, or Creepers, or just trying to think how they could build new things on their “crafting table”. Yesterday they played “Minecraft Kitchen” which is their take on Cuthroat Kitchen, in which they use found yard things to “craft” Minecraft food. So I say, let them play. At my house, that means shaking them loose from the computers every so often, but encouraging their interests so that they can explore the world around them by playing what they love. That is what this ol’ Mama Frog thinks anyway.