My wife was never a gamer. She has a deep hate towards the idea of our five-year-old son playing a video game yet she is totally OK with him watching up to 3 hours a day of Netflix Kids.

How do I convince her (with evidence ideally) that some games are better than passively watching stuff.

Our son really loves games and watching him play, he is amazingly advanced in role playing games and Cut The Rope head-scratchers.

I'm heartbroken every time she freaks out when she discovers that I let him play a few minutes with me (which we both really enjoy.)

  • 1
    Games engage problem solving and active thinking. Watching videos is passive entertainment.
    – pojo-guy
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 2:30
  • 5
    Two quick questions: have you ever talked to her about why she hates video gaming so much? And what does she do during one-on-one time with your son?
    – Layna
    Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 6:25
  • I don't quite understand the last statement. Is it conducive to a discussion? Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 7:29
  • 5
    You are both parents, If your wife is just expecting to lay down rules that you have to obey and gets angry and shouts when you don't follow them then that is a big problem. Commented Jan 11, 2018 at 12:49
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    @user1450877 - It is, but it is equally problematic when a parent enables defying another parent, in the role of co-conspirator, behind that other parent's back. What lesson is being taught about respecting parental authority and recognizing boundaries? But, yes, they do need to get on the same page, together, in any case. Commented Jan 15, 2018 at 21:31

4 Answers 4


I am a gamer. A rather heavy gamer. So is my husband. Our goal for our future children is to avoid any and all screen time for as long as possible. There are absolutely some negatives to small children gaming but AFAIK these are the same for TV and possibly/probably even more emphasized with TV.

  • "constrained" entertainment does not allow for creativity. Something like Lego: you stack, build, destroy, roleplay, etc. A game: you play the game and solve the one problem you are given. TV: you watch.
  • Games and TV are BOTH addicting. Seriously. As a gamer myself I can ASSURE you that all games have something that makes people want to come back for more, or play for just 5 more minutes (and then 5 more and 5 more and 5 more...)
  • I have only read this about TV but I think it is easy to see how it would apply to games as well: they contribute to shorter attention spans. The constant incoming stream of information that is always changing. When something (like a book) doesn't give this vivid, changing stream of information it can be harder to focus on and feel "boring" even if it is something enjoyable.
  • Sedentary habits: I struggle with this. When gaming and watching TV, you don't move. This eventually builds into a rather sedentary lifestyle without conscious effort.

All that said, I'm a gamer because I grew up gaming with my dad :) Games are great because:

  • Problem solving. TV does not involve problem solving, gaming does. There are many wonderfully illustrated puzzle games now and others that can teach youngsters other useful concepts. I loved the "Magic Schoolbus" games as a kid. "Zoombinis" (apparently still available on Steam) was also a great game that involved logic puzzles while being adorable and engaging for 6yo me.

  • Creativity is a different way: Minecraft can be a really useful tool to teach creativity, problem solving and introduce binary logic and then eventually even to teach programming. "Redstone" in the game acts kind of like a logic circuit and can be used to build some really cool stuff. The lack of gravity can allow something like a "virtual lego". The community mods can add SO SO much tech stuff to the game and (at least?) one of them allows programming in Lua within Minecraft.

  • Bonding. You seem to already know this one, but gaming with a parent is a great bonding exercise. I'm in my 20s and I STILL game with my dad :)

  • Familiarity with computers (assuming its a PC game). Being on the computer doing something fun allows the opportunity to interact with a keyboard and mouse and get familiar with the operating system. Possibly even learning to install games and how to choose a folder location, etc. Furthermore, gaming that requires typing and the use of the keyboard gives a fun way to learn to type. I always hated the "learn to type" games. But gaming that required time-constrained typing for other reasons RAPIDLY taught me to type quite fast.

I truly believe there is nothing inherently wrong with allowing a child to game for a short amount of time. Especially when it is supervised and age-appropriate.


I would say that this is something you and your wife need to talk through. Simply laying out arguments about why gaming is good seems unlikely to do the trick. You said

"she has a deep hate towards the idea of our 5yr old son playing a video game"

This makes me think there is more to it on her side and you need to try to open a conversation where she feels safe discussing this with you. Try to understand why she hates games so much.

im heartbroken every time she freaks out when she discovers that i let him play a free minutes with me ( which we both really enjoy ) its almost paranoia at this point.

This speaks to me of a relationship problem where you guys are communicating insufficiently rather than a strictly parenting problem.

  • 2
    "A game: you play the game and solve the one problem you are given." Just like in life, then? When a problem occurs, you typically don't get to just destroy it, you must solve it within existing constraints.
    – user7953
    Commented Jan 17, 2018 at 10:50

I would argument with the following points:

  1. TV/Netflix is a lot more Socially isolated. In RPGs on the other hand you can be extremely socially active and also need to do so for some quests or whatsoever

  2. TV/Netflix, if you dont watch interesting Documentaries or Mindtwisting and complex movies you literally dont get challenged, simply put its just a waste of time, the only benefit of it is you get a good feeling. (that doesnt mean you or your Kid shouldnt do that, It can be really relaxing, but not that benefiacial over all)

  3. In Games you learn actually how to solve Problems or how you need to adapt to certain situations.

  4. How to read Maps and follow a lead

  5. Clearly playing Games all day is not that good either, the Balance between physical or psychological activities (Games or whatsoever educating stuff) and just chill and get some freetime to do nothing is very important also, especially for a kid.


Anecdotally, I got into university on the strength of my gaming.

Before I was 10 I was drawing level layouts for my favourite games, by early teens I was stripping apart configuration files for other games and creating my own units in RTS games.

By late teens I was writing actual levels in the Source Engine. I also played a lot of games like Minecraft or Garry's Mod where boolean logic pathways and even scripts can be written out.

I got into university by waxing lyrical about my hobby and showing the interviewer printout pictures of the levels I'd created.

That knowledge translated into a Games & AI Computer Science degree at university, which flowed into a six year career as a games developer in a small studio.

Now I work for a household-name company developing their website and app and pulling a well-above-average salary. It's not games anymore, but without games I don't think I'd have gone down this path.

Long and short, Start early with games, and encourage the creative side of it more than the destructive, you never know where it might lead!

  • Funny cause my path was similar. Went right from high school into a game development company, which eventually lead to a job in web development. I played a lot of games. Still do, and so do my kids. Plus 1
    – Kai Qing
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 19:04

I feel the answers provided give plenty of enlightenment to your question so I thought I'd follow up with just some minor informational additions:

Consider research showing video games as being beneficial and even preventative for alzheimer's patients: https://www.alzheimers.net/9-28-15-video-games-for-brain-health/

Professional video game playing IS a viable job: http://www.businessinsider.com/15-of-the-highest-paid-professional-gamers-2014-5#2-danil-dendi-ishutin-45561583-from-43-tournaments-14

And to back that, common people make plenty of money on twitch: https://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/13/amazons-twitch-streamers-can-make-big-bucks.html

Though that doesn't break down the per individual numbers, our web shop was baffled to know they made equal or more than youtubers, who can make up to 5 million a year doing banal garbage in front of a camera.

Not to say money is a measurement of safety or anything, but I'm just kind of trying to suggest game playing isn't a complete waste of time as some people believe. If she hasn't read articles like these, maybe she should. Or it could be articles like these that made her despise games so much.

I would personally try to talk to her about why she has such a problem with video games. It might be very important to her. Think like - an atheist learns his wife took their kid to a Jehovah's Witness bible study. You want to think you could be supportive but some things will just fry your mind out of the realms of rational discussion. Maybe if you know why she despises games so much you might be able to see it from her perspective and know what kind of crazy you're bestowing upon her by making a choice like playing a few games with your kid. To her, his next step could be symbolic to door to door Jehovah's Witnessing to the atheist, which may be the very last thing she wants for her kid.

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