Raising a Nerdy Child: iPhone Games

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(This is part 2 of an irregular series about my attempts to turn my daughter into a complete dork.)

And so the change begins. My daughter is deep into her first video game addiction.

Yeah, OK, it’s just Bejeweled 2. And in spare moments I shake my fist at the sky and yell, “I will not raise a casual gamer! Do you hear me! Hardcore or nothing!” (And the thunder rumbles back, “the jewels don’t lie.”)

But still: my daughter’s a gamer.

I’m a little surprised that Bejeweled was what did it. We dicked around with Disney’s Fairies Fly, and the Dora game, Mr. Aaaah and Spore. She likes coaching me on GeoDefense Swarm (“Laser towers are expensive, sweetie.” “Just spend the money, daddy!”) but the action is a bit too quick for her adorably uncoordinated fingers. She even had a semi-educational fling with the Scrabble-esque game Wurdle. But Bejeweled is the one.

How should I feel about it? On the one hand, she’s problem-solving. She’s concentrating for long-periods of time. She’s gaining confidence. She’s totally mastered the iPhone’s gesture-language interface.

On the other hand, it’s a little scary how deeply it’s got her. She plays in the car. She’ll play walking along the street, or she would if I let her. (She suggested I guide her along the sidewalk like Laura did with Mary in Little House on the Prairie after Mary went blind with scarlet fever. Kids!) Last night she asked me to leave my phone in her room when I went to bed, so she could play in the morning if she woke up before me. Flash forward 50 years, she’s down and out on the Vegas strip, working the one-armed bandits and shaking her quarter-bucket.

But on the gripping hand (a million nerd points if you got that reference), she’s in the building. The gaming center of her mind is alive and alert. She just needs a strong, calloused parental hand to shape her taste and give her the discipline you need to handle a lifelong gaming habit.

But I’ll give her a few more levels first. She hasn’t even gotten a hyper-cube yet.