We have a new member of the family. The rest of my family are extremely enamoured by it, I’m less keen. I don’t trust it. I’m talking about the X-Box and how it has elbowed its way into my family life and I’m already disliking the hypnotic spell it has put on my girls and husband.
How It Came Into Our Lives
A couple of months ago my now 9 year-old had a birthday and she was very lucky to receive some birthday money. I made the suggestion that she could spend the money on some new clothes. Well, I’m sure you can imagine how that suggestion was received – “Boring”. Oldest declared that she would like a games console. I scoffed and told her to keep dreaming.
However, over the weeks she waged a war of attrition and phrased her persuasive arguments carefully – “it’s not a dog I’m asking for. Xboxes don’t poo. You won’t have to clean up after it” A very good point as the previous mooted suggestion had been that we could get a menagerie of pets as we were now living in a house with a garden. However, I had refused all suggestions that ranged from rabbit through to dog through to horse (we have a small garden, not acres of land), through to chickens. Oldest had successfully guilt-tripped me for refusal of a pet and pointed out the benefits of said Xbox.
How I Was Persuaded
The persuasive arguments kept coming thick and fast and I cursed her teacher for teaching her the conventions of persuasive language so thoroughly. Her arguments always followed the same structure
- Say the same thing but in three different ways
- List the benefits
- Emotional blackmail
- Ask rhetorical questions
- Finally, outright trickery
Eventually, I agreed to look into the Xbox and discovered that they were way out of her price range. Phew, crisis averted and the birthday money was carefully deposited into my back account with an “IOU” for Oldest.
Then last Friday Mr C, who was also rather hankering after an Xbox, told me that the games console had just been reduced on Amazon and if he put some of his birthday money towards it he and Oldest could share the games console. Yes, my husband wanted a games console too. I suspect he wanted it even more than Oldest. While we are at it, who are these people who keep their birthday money to one side? Mine gets spent quickly before the bills swallow it up.
Tricked By Mr C
As Mr C put across his persuasive argument (FYI it was not as good as Oldest’s argument. He clearly needs a refresher course), I gave in. I was admittedly very distracted when Mr C suggested the Xbox. It was the day before my talk at the Jersey Festival of Words and I was veering from wanting to vomit constantly to planning my escape from the rock. Perhaps Mr C had been clever, he had timed it all rather well.
Why am I so against a games console coming into the house? Firstly, I am very mistrustful of technology. Ironic as I make my living writing online using technology. However, I am a complete technophobe. I hate communicating via WhatsApp and Facebook. Give me a pen and paper any day. I also hate the impact technology has on our children. In the past I’ve seen first-hand how a games console can rob a child of their childhood. I’ve taught pupils that are so addicted to their gaming that they can barely keep their eyes open. Clever children reduced to a robotic shell and barely functioning because they sit up all night playing games.
So when it arrived I put down firm rules in place. No playing on the Xbox until all homework and chores have been completed. At first it seemed that the Xbox was actually going to make my life easier. The children were suddenly volunteering to help me with chores. I didn’t have to cajole Youngest into the shower, she skipped into it. It was a revelation. I stopped nagging people for the first time since having children!
I’ve Lost Mr C!
The children were happy with their half hour of gaming and knew that any bad behaviour would result in them forfeiting the games console. What I hadn’t banked on was what the games console would do to my husband.
Since its arrival he has spent his evenings basking in the gaming glow. Playing football and racing cars. I try to hold a conversation and I’m greeted with a grunt. I can hardly put him on the naughty step for bad behaviour. I am at a loss. It is driving me bonkers. But what’s driving me even more bonkers is that I have something to confess
I have also found myself being lured by it. It sits in the corner of the living-room whispering “Play me, see what the fuss is”
The other day I lost half an hour of my life playing “Hitman”. This is not a game the children are allowed to play – I should make that very clear! This is a very violent game. I started the game and was wincing at the violence and tutting to myself. By the end of it I was shooting people left right and centre, and breaking people’s neck (in the game, not real life).
Yep, I’m very wary of that Xbox and its magnetism. I’ve known men like the XBox – you know that they are bad for you but you keep going back for more. I’m breaking free of this toxic relationship before it has begun. Give me my beloved books any day.
I just hope that Mr C breaks up with it soon too.