The Road to Degradation

By Michael

I think she was four, possibly a precocious three. She was up on the chair, playing on the touchscreen, trying to win a matching game and then a ring toss of sorts. Her mom came by to help her, instruct her and cheer her on.

Of course, the chair was a bar stool and the touchscreen was a video gaming machine. It had lots of other games to amuse the idle drinker. I think the game was brought to you by the letters AA and the number 21, but I didn’t see Elmo or Barney anywhere.

The little girl was having fun and she was probably learning something about climbing and keeping her balance and matching numbers, oblivious to the location of those numbers on cards or dice or tiny stop signs. As an adult, I thought it a bit out of place, but I couldn’t tell you any way that the girl was actually being hurt by this exposure.

How important is the context for learning? If a child learns ratios at a race track, are the numbers tainted? If she learns to spell by texting instead of reading, is she harmed in the process?

Yes, she was learning to play video games in a saloon—I was only there to ask directions for a little old lady who couldn’t climb the stairs, of course—but she was learning something. People learn to gamble or drink or engage in all kinds of questionable behavior as teens or young adults, but I’m not quite convinced we develop all our vices from close proximity to a den of perversion.

Perhaps I should have pulled her mom aside and suggested to her that her daughter was on a death spiral to pole dancing and reality television, but I refrained. To tell the truth, I was thinking of giving the girl a quarter for another game.

As I thought about it, I really couldn’t see any harm.

Michael Rosenbaum is 5 Minutes for Parenting’s first dadblogger. He is a business consultant, playwright and author of Your Name Here: Guide to Life.

Michael blogs on life issues at Your Name Here Guide to Life and manages the Adult Conversation discussion group on Linked-In.

One Response to The Road to Degradation
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