“Mommy, I figured it out!”
My 4-year-old son is pretty obsessed right now with Star Wars Angry Birds on my iPad. Like, asking me first thing in the morning if he can play obsessed. Throw a massive temper-tantrum if I say no obsessed. Causing some alarm in his generally permissive when it comes to technology obsessed.
I’m trying to remind him that there is life outside of Angry Birds (including a room overflowing with toys, a gigantic box full of art supplies, his sister, etc), but he is single-minded in his pursuit of three stars and completed levels so that Luke Skywalker can have a green lightsaber (his favorite color). And so we have spent the entire weekend either playing or fighting about playing Angry Birds.
My son has never been as good with technology (or really anything that requires patience and fine motor skills; he is hopeless at puzzles, too) as his sister. He could never quite figure out how to hold his iPhone so that the only finger on it was the one trying to activate the apps. A computer mouse represented even more of a challenge, let alone the trackpad on the laptops we have at home. His printing and tracing at school have been lacking (although not lagging), while he would get frustrated and give up often before even trying something he knew he couldn’t do very well.
But all that has changed. Correlation does not equal causation, as my husband likes to continually remind me, but now, he finally seems to get it. His tracing has improved tremendously. He is willing to actually play around in Angry Birds to try and figure out how to defeat a level, or to see what each of the birds can accomplish (hence the opening quote). Maybe it’s the game itself, maybe it’s that he is now four and was due to reach these kinds of cognitive milestones anyway. But, I can’t help but think that maybe this game has helped him, just a little, develop his fine motor and concentration (not to mention problem solving skills).
Don’t think that I think that this is all wine and roses. There are those temper tantrums, and his single-mindedness that borders on obsession. Then again, my daughter got obsessed with many different things when she was four as well. And there’s the fact that he is motivated by a very really desire to get better at the game, to practice and learn. And I do want him to engage in open-ended imaginative play, not spend all his time on the iPad, cheering on a giant fuzz ball wookie trying to kill Imperial pigs.
This will probably go the way of most of my kids’ other obsessions over the years; eventually, they get bored or lose interest and move on. We’ll see how he does next weekend when I take my iPad with me to THATCamp in Atlanta. Until then, I’ll savor hearing my son exclaim proudly and excitedly for the first time: “Mom, I figured it out! Come see, it’s so cool!”