When Gaming Is ‘Biologically Disrespectful’

In a recent post, I said that as a parent, I was more offended by handheld games than the console variety:

The thing that actually does bother me are the handheld devices, in the hands of 5- to 12-year-olds, who sit distractedly in social situations and never interact with the other kids nor the adults. It’s especially vexing at family events, where the kids don’t see each other very often, and instead of talking and playing with each other, they hunker down in their seats and barely look up except to eat the occasional French Fry. On Christmas Eve, I saw a young guy around 8 or 9 playing his DS in church, as other kids put on a Christmas pageant. I wanted to chuck the thing against the wall.

This is helpful to me. I’ve been ignored by a kid playing a game in front of the TV, and even when I coach teens playing basketball or teaching a Sunday school class, I’m used to the feigned disinterest. I’ve come to realize that kids—especially bigger ones—are often listening even when they appear to not be.

But I am often stung when we’re sitting at a table for a lunch or dinner and the kid can’t be bothered to look up and be part of the conversation, especially if me or another person (adult or child) is asking him or her questions.

Jedd Hafer, of the Love and Logic Institute, e-mailed me this, which made me feel a little more justified:

Dr. Bruce Perry calls it “biologically disrespectful,” meaning that we are made to relate face to face. From the time we are infants, we respond to facial cues, etc. All this “exclusive personal stimulus” (earbuds in, texting, handhelds) goes against our biology. We are deprived of a real human need—face-to-face relating. (Says the guy in the email, responding to a blog. Man, I’m a hypocrite!)

Which explains why my wife has darn-near grabbed my iPhone and thrown it through the nearest window when I yeah-sure’d her recounting something important from her life. Forget kids: I think “presence” is the biggest challenge we all face in our relationships these days. How do you score on this modern-day challenge?

This was originally published by Men’s Health: http://blogs.menshealth.com/fatherhood/when-gaming-is-biologically-disrespectful/2011/03/04/#ixzz2bX9f3sl9

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