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I feel like I had the parenting rug pulled out from me last night.

Driving home from soccer last night, P and I were a really nice conversation. We talked about the game, how the school day went, etc. He told me about how much fun he and his friends had playing soccer at recess. It was a really nice and innocent exchange. I asked him who he liked to hang out with the most, and he listed a couple of kids, and then innocently, said, “I really like D– in my class. He meets me on Roblox.”

“Oh, you play at school?” I asked.

“No, he can join my world. There’s like this chat thing,” he replied.

Now, Roblox, is a game that my kids have recently gotten into. I don’t know much about it, but it seems to be a sort of Minecraft-ish thing. My kids have been playing Minecraft in their self-contained worlds for a while now and I have no problem.

I consider myself a pretty tech-savvy guy, but this one had slipped under my radar. Apparently, this game has an online component where they can connect and chat. To be honest, I really don’t know much about it, save for that it isn’t the self-contained little world I had assumed it to be.

Maybe because I am so familiar with tech and its effects on the developing brain and emotions that this has me worried.

We talked more about it, and while he tried to assuage me of my concerns and convince me that there was nothing I had to worry about. I shared with him that all we hear as parents are about the bad things like bullying and meanness that happen in sites like this.

Here’s where I am conflicted. This came up through an innocent conversation. In the middle of a really great and positive conversation about the boy meeting a new friend in his new school. It was a conversation in which we were talking about our feelings, being open, and sharing.

If I shut down this game (which is what my gut tells me I have to do as a responsible parent), what does that do to future conversations? How do you explain to a 9-year-old why?

I don’t like this feeling. It feels like someone gave my kid permission to go outside, without supervision, and play with a bunch of people I don’t know without my consent.

I genuinely don’t know what to do here. Luckily I’m not alone in having to make this decision, and M and I will work through this together, but this is the first time as a parent, that I feel we are at a crossroads–where there are two paths to choose, and each has its own peaks, valleys, and pot-holes. And my kid is running about 20 yards ahead of me.

 

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