My boys have their own computer where they play games I’ve installed which seem to not cross my boundaries for what’s ok for kids to play. One of the games I’m sort of on the fence about because it seems to bring out a lot of creativity, while also creating an unpredictable anxiety in them, is Minecraft.
So I limit their time with the game while I monitor their behavior surrounding their exposure to it. It’s not like it’s all that different from other games, but for some reason they get really into it and fight over who gets to play on the computer.
This means their computer gets lots of use. Which is cool, since it’s the laptop I bought back in 2008 that has been the bane of my professional life for at least 2 years. I put an SSD in it and 6 gigs of ram to buy it new life, so I’m glad it’s finding a useful retirement phase.
The thing is, though, my kids have never known or used a computer you turn off. The iPad and iPhones they’re used to just turn off when you’re done with them.
Without my guidance, they’ve discovered how to “turn off” the computer.
> Hit the mute button on the keyboard.
> Hit the power button on the monitor.
So I end up sitting here for much of the night after they go to bed half consciously trying to figure out why one of my devices is fans-ablaze until finally I realize that Minecraft taxes the shit out of that laptop and it’s been on since 8:00 with nobody even paying attention to Steve’s needs or intentions. (I think Steve is the Mincraft guy’s name…my kids call him Steve.)
I pick up the mouse, turn on the monitor, and Steve’s just standing there, staring into a wall or the sky or something. And the fans are at top speed trying to keep the processors and ram cool.
Command Q quits the game and within 30 seconds the fans whir down to silent. So, next step, after Ian’s potty trained, teach them how to quit a game on a computer that doesn’t just handle all that shit for you.
Computers that don’t need to be turned off, programs that don’t need to be quit, documents that don’t need to be saved, information that doesn’t need to be backed up, software that uses the same data source, no matter where you’re using it. That’s quickly making me feel old with these devices that were so transformative for me, so freeing, but are now so confounding to my kids.