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Replacing a Playstation with an Electronic Drum Kit Improved Our Children's Behaviour

By Martin Aungle - 1st December 2011

Not long after the release of Sony’s PlayStation 2 (PS2) in 2000, I won a copy of the newly-released PlayStation game This is Football, in an online competition. Around the same time I was also given a shopping voucher as a bonus from work, and I used it to buy a PS2 unit – our family’s first-ever games console, and our first-ever DVD player.

We had two young boys at the time and, for a few years, the PS2 was just a DVD player to them. Eventually the penny dropped and pretty soon the boys were asking for PS2 games for Christmas and birthday presents, and playing on the console a couple of times a week.

We were always very strict about the use of the PS2. It was only ever played on weekends or school holidays, and never for longer than an hour at a time. However, the thing we noticed was that no matter what game they were playing – and we limited the games to mostly non-violent ones – their mood and behaviour always turned for the worse afterwards.

It got to the point that we would ban the PlayStation for periods, with the punishment explicitly linked to the way the boys (we had three by now) misbehaved after playing on the PS2. One day, the final straw came (I can’t remember now what caused it!) and the PS2 was banned indefinitely, with the console and the games packed up in a box and deposited with a neighbour. We told the boys we had thrown it in the bin.

It’s not that we didn’t have fun as a family playing PS2. We had a couple of the Buzz! quiz games, Simpsons Road Rage and some of the Crash Bandicoot series, which we all enjoyed, but the family definitely functioned better without it.

Then, with Christmas coming up, we decided to get rid of the PS2 for good and put the money we made from selling it on eBay towards something fun and electronic, but also something that would give our boys a creative outlet and some useful real world skills. We bought them an electronic drum kit and, soon after, an electronic keyboard.

The equipment is now permanently set up in the studio, and the boys can go out anytime they like to play. And they do go out there to play – a lot.

And after they play, there’s no downward spiral in mood and behaviour. If anything, they come back into the house buzzing and happy.

Mr 14’s main instrument is the clarinet, but he is also the keyboard player in a band that’s headlining his school’s annual presentation night next week. The boys in the band come over to rehearse at our place in the holidays, which is always a great social event too. Mr 14 is also proficient enough on the drums to fill in at the last minute for the school’s strings ensemble performance – an arrangement of Django Reinhardt’s Minor Swing (no easy piece of music!).

Mr 14 is also teaching Mr 6 keyboard, and they’re both loving the experience.

So, do we get regularly badgered by the boys to get another games console? Yes.

Do we negotiate with them? No. The simple fact is that while they are living under our roof, there will be no games console in the house.

I know there is research out there that violent video games alter the brain, and that there is plenty of counter research too. But we don’t have to worry about the debate, because we have seen first-hand the impact that video games have on my own kids and we have taken the necessary steps to remove the source of the problem from our lives.

Are our boys deprived at all because we don’t own a games console? I’m sure they feel they are, but when we were kids didn’t we all feel deprived in some way that we didn’t have everything our friends had?

note the image is not the author's child and is sourced from this site

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