The “Lego Rule” of children and play and violence and war and…

Do you like to play video games? I know I do! In fact, Michelle (wife) actually  bought me an XBOX for my birthday when she was pregnant so I would have something to do in the evenings when she was in bed by 8:00. So for all of you fellow geek dads out there who still love to play video games and have kids who will no doubt want to follow in your footsteps one day, this one is for you! And really it’s for everyone because I think there’s a lot of merit to the “Lego Rule”.

This is one small section from a Wired article I just read and I highly recommend reading the entire article. The following is my favorite part:

From the Wired article: Games without frontiers
Commentary by  Clive Thompson

070×070_logo.gif“The Lego Company, it seems, has a policy of not producing toys that replicate 20th century weapons. “You can have swords, and you can have laser guns in space, but no actual 20th century guns,” Anderson says. So his four children can play games like Halo, since it contains only futuristic, fantasy war, where you’re killing only green- or blue-blooded aliens. The same goes for Roman swordplay titles. “But it clearly walls off Grand Theft Auto.

Thompson went on to say,

I e-mailed Lego’s spokesman Michael McNally, and he confirmed the company’s Solomonic logic. Lego, he wrote, agrees thathitman-blood-money.jpg good-versus-evil combat “is at the root of children’s play scenarios, and we believe is an important part of a child’s exploration of the world.” But they don’t want it infecting the children’s perception of the real world around them, so the solution is to place it decisively in the realm of fantasy.

<Click here to read the full article>

I couldn’t agree more, and maybe this is also a great rule for all kinds of play. Regardless of whether we’re talking about video games or cops and robbers, I truecrime_twoguns.jpgbelieve whole-heartedly that kids should be encouraged to play. And I for one will always encourage my daughter to explore, learn, take risks, fall down, scrape a knee, wipe it off, get back up, figure things out, and otherwise learn to think creatively and problem solve. And I’ll encourage her to also do silly things that are completely useless, like learn to ride a unicycle or walk on stilts – because its fun (and I will not forbid it because I’m secretlyclown_on_unicycle.gif worried that these activities may encourage her to join the circus later in life – not that there’s anything wrong with that).

And even though I have a daughter who may not necessarily grow up wanting to play games like Dead to Rights or Hitman, if she does, I think the ‘Lego Rule ‘is definitely the model I would use in deciding which games I wanted her to play. I mean WE. This is definitely the model WE (Michelle and I) would use in deciding which games to let our daughter play…if Michelle agrees with the model that is…


Are we hurting our kids’ futures by overprotecting them?

I haven’t written in a long time, mostly because I really didn’t have anything to say.  Life has been good, my daughter is doing great, and we’re having a grand old time. But an email I got this morning really got me thinking, and I got all riled up and had to rant. So here’s my two-cents worth for today.

We are living in an age where parents have forced schools to ban tag and red rover – and any other form of play that involves physical contact – on the playground, for fear our kids might get hurt or feel bad about themselves. Parents are thethering their kids to a 50 foot rope so they can’t leave the yard, protecting them from abduction, predators, playing with the wrong kids, and any and all other forms of harm. Parents are forcing schools to ban the honor roll to protect their child’s delicate psyche, if other kids get honored and their kids don’t. Every kid makes the soccer team and up to a certain age the goals aren’t counted so that no one is a “loser”.

When did this happen? Am I the only one who thinks its a bad thing that we’re raising a generation of overprotected pansies? When did we stop letting kids be kids?

Before my daughter was born, Michelle and I read in a couple of books that you shouldn’t take a newborn out of the house for the first six weeks to protect them from viruses and polluted air and the like. Are you kidding me?!?!? We took our daughter with us to the mall when she was 3 days old. Guess what? She’s still alive! We took her everywhere, and we still do, and she loves being on the go. We plan to raise her to be adventurous and outgoing. To not be afraid to fail or get hurt,
and to understand that life isn’t fair and sometimes someone else is going to do better and win the prize. And if she wants to win the prize next time, she’d better work harder and be prepared. I don’t ever want her to think she is “entitled” to anything. And we hope she’ll be a better person for it.

The list below was taken from a mass email, and it makes a good point. Overprotecting our kids now is only going to hurt them in the future.

Take a look back at our generation growing up…
– We survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they were pregnant.
– They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn’t get tested for diabetes.
– We were put to sleep on our tummies in baby cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.
– We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets.
– As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats,booster seats, seat belts or air bags.
– Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.
– We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.
– We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.
– We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank koolade made with sugar, but we weren’t overweight because we were always outside playing!
– We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.
– No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.
– We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.
– We did not have Playstations, Nintendo’s, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVDs, no surround-sound, we had friends and we went outside and found them!
– We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.
– We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.
– We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.
– We rode bikes or walked to a friend’s house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!
– Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team.
– Those who didn’t had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!
– The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!

These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers,problem solvers and inventors ever! The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas. We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned how to deal with it all. So when it all boils down, are we really just protecting the next generation from success?

Just something to think about.