Would you buy this child a Wii?

My husband and 9-year-old son are both very much in favor of getting a Wii. I have doubts.

But living in a little expat bubble in Egypt, it is sometimes hard to know what is reasonable and what isn’t. Thus I seek the wisdom of Dopers. Here are some background facts:

Son has a computer in his room and internet access, but rules about how long he can be on the computer (1/2 hour day plus one “free day” on the weekends). None of his friends have their own computers.

He watches virtually no live TV, except sometimes CNN news. As a family we watch various flavors of Star Trek together on video (weekends only, or maybe 1-2 episodes during the week).

He has a Gameboy that he is only allowed to use while we are traveling (which is about 8 weeks/year), during which use is pretty much unrestricted.

None of his friends has a Wii.

He loves reading, and often reads an hour or more a day, demolishing books far above his grade level.

He takes piano lessons and enjoys them though he has to be reminded to practice. He is also a student of taekwondo and takes that very seriously.

He does pretty well in school although he hates to write and has atrocious spelling and handwriting and poor organizational skills.

Would you get a Wii for this child? I guess I am reluctant because (a) he is already fairly spoiled; and (b) it will just be one more distraction competing for his limited time (I don’t want the reading to decrease).

On the other hand, he is a good kid and extremely grateful for all that we provide. He doesn’t ACT spoiled; in fact he worries if he thinks a present is too expensive. And we could probably tie usage of the Wii to incentives (“all your book reports have to be at least 1 page long and you have to correct the spelling mistakes before you are allowed to use the Wii”). Also, he tends to be a bit bossy – we’ve noticed that if he and his friends are playing on his computer, he “drives” almost all the time. A Wii would allow more give-and-take and equalize the interaction.

Eh. What would you do/have you done with your own child, and why?

9yo? 9-10 is when most kids in Spain take First Communion, an act that for many of them is their second visit to a church. The gift list for boys is bound to include one or more consoles, unless either he already has them all, and I mean all, or the parents threaten whomever brings PSLatest with excomunion and being boiled alive in low-quality oil.

I think it’s ok so long as the current computer time becomes “computer or Wii”, rather than being an adition. After all, you don’t give him more computer time because he got a new game!

I grew up receiving all the new game machines months before they were even released in the US, had a house significantly larger than all my friends, parents had ritzy sports cars, we had a satelite dish with hundreds of channels (in the 80s), etc.

My brother, me, and Paris Hilton all grew up as rich kids. Me and my brother ended up fine, while as Paris Hilton ended up as Paris Hilton. And from that I can tell you that kids don’t get spoiled by having more and better toys. Parents spoil kids by letting them get away with shit. If you aren’t giving gifts to your kid solely to get him to shut up and sit down, or because he has the upper hand on you, then he won’t be spoiled by the giving.

If you have the money for the Wii and you don’t think that it will cause him to sit in his room all the time with his brain turned off, then go for it. If you don’t have the money, or you think he would be corrupted into being a couch potato, then don’t go for it. But spoiling your kid is a separate issue.

Yes, I would. He’s all ready participating in a lot of enriching activities, that you say he enjoys, so I wouldn’t have a problem with it. If he sat in front of the computer and tv all day, only moving to grab more cheetos and pepsi, or if he was throwing tantrums over not having the newest system, it would be a different story.

I’m assuming you didn’t put in any examples of how you feel he’s spoiled, because I don’t think anyone would say he was, based on what you’ve written here.

Why would I buy your child a Wii? I’d rather buy one for myself.

Heh. Actually, the first line makes it look as though Dad wants one as well. One positive benefit to getting one might be that son and dad will spend more time hanging out together. And maybe you’ll get sucked in, too, Carol: I know my own dad had ridiculous fun playing the sports games when my brother brought his over to my dad’s house one night, and my dad is not a gamer at all.


Good points everyone. To clarify, when I say he is “spoiled,” I mean he has lots of material goods – the computer in his own room, for example. And as an only child, he doesn’t have to share much. And his allowance is (IMHO) insane: $3.00/week (his dad did that when I wasn’t paying attention, and although I think that is way too much I didn’t think it was fair to retract it).

He had his birthday recently and all he asked for was cat food that he could donate to one of the local cat shelters. Of course, everyone said “ahh, what a wonderful boy.” Which he is, no question. However, I also wonder if that isn’t a signal that he has too much stuff already … surely he should want something for himself?

All his friends gave him cat food, but we did buy him walkie talkies and a computer game. He was worried about the latter: “mom, you know that game costs SIXTY DOLLARS, right? Are you sure you should buy it?” His plan had been to buy the game himself, using that generous allowance of his.

He has not come right out and asked for a Wii; I think he assumes it is out of the question due to a combination of cost/mom’s skeptical attitude toward electronic toys.

Oh, and I should have noted that he doesn’t have a playstation, of course. He had one friend who did but that friend moved, so now no one among his friends has one.

Is this a typo, or does the dollar just go a long long way in Cairo? This amount of money would not go very far at all in the UK, in comparison i was on £1 a week (approx $2) 23 years ago.

He doesn’t need everything that comes out, and if he didn’t ask for one don’t get one. He seems concerned that you spend to much money. The computer sounds like it’s up to date, so it can play most games out there. Why don’t you ask him what he’d like instead of guessing.

This is my guess. Here in Bulgaria, where a loaf of bread costs ~US$.30 and you can get a whole personal pizza for ~$1.75, the equivalent of $3 would be an okay allowance.

Meet him part way on the cost of the Wii? Have the kid kick in a third of the price and you pay the rest. I don’t know how much the Wii is in Cairo or anything, so I just thred “a third” out there as a general example.

I dunno, maybe the kid has a lot of stuff already, but it also sounds like he has too little time. When is he going to smush in time to play the Wii? You may not want the reading to decrease and reading is good, but what’s so wrong with cutting the reading down a little bit for a Wii? We’re also assuming that the reading is going to drop a lot when the Wii is there over the long run.

Hell, give him a more advanced book so the one book he reads in his new time constraint will be worth it. Throw “War and Peace” at him or make him read “The Cantebury Tales” in old English. That’ll learn him. (I’m kidding, by the way).

I don’t know if it’s because of the culture that surrounds you all or what, but he seems awfully concerned with the family’s finances for someone so young. I don’t mean that he should be completely unaware of the family’s position, but perhaps he’s overheard some conversations between yourself and your husband that may have made him more concerned than he should be? Maybe that’s why all he asked for was cat food. (Which even if it was the reason, it was still a very nice thing to do.)

The kids sounds a lot like I was at his age (with the exceptionof the internet-in-room… not many home compuetrs around when I was nine). I had a Super Nintendo (then the newest system) when I was about nine, and turned out okay (although my parents did restrict me to a half hour a day).

I’m a little worried about this part, actually. Is he feeling guilty because you’re better off than other people, or is he anxious that you’re going to run out of money and be suffering like they do? It sounds like he could use a listen (as opposed to “a talk”) about his feelings here. There might be some things you could do to alleviate his possible feelings of guilt (maybe the two of you could volunteer in a soup kitchen/refugee camp of some sort) or anxiety (assure him that you have a financial plan in place and start to share with him how one plans and keeps a budget) around money.

As for the game, listen to your gut. He sounds like a sweet, generous, wise, well-rounded kid who has a good head on his shoulders. I agree with **LHoD **that, if handled properly, the Wii can become a good family uniter instead of a divider. I, personally, waited until WhyKid was 11.5 for a Gameboy and a month shy of 14 for an XBox 360, and I’m glad I did. I did it for most of the same reasons you seem to be looking at - basically, I wanted to make sure video games aren’t his entire life. But I was very conservative in that vein, and I don’t represent the mainstream US viewpoint on gaming - most kids are avid gamers here much younger than that.

Well, he is only 9 and there is nothing but candy to buy here – of which $3.00 buys tons! But aside from the occasional candy indugence, he generally saves his allowance and has enough to buy one nice thing for himself each year when we go back to the US. Alternatively, he can buy computer games to download; these usually run $20 to $60 so it seems to me like $3.00/week is plenty. Especially as he ages, I’d like to see him earn extra money through additional chores if he needs more.

No need to guess; his close friend really wants one and I can tell from being around their discussions. But I wouldn’t want to say “do you want a Wii?” because that would tip our hand that we might actually get him one. Then he’ll be either terribly disappointed if we don’t, or less deliciously surprised if we do.

Great idea, thanks!

Heh. Well, he reads The Economist and Scientific American so you may not be too far off. He’s a very smart kid, according to various tests his school has subjected him to. (For example, he finished every question and got every question right on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills last year; he was also evaluated by a child psychologist at the school’s request; I declined a written report but the doctor said he is exceptionally intelligent.)

To be honest, maybe that’s one reason I have misgivings about the Wii … he IS so smart (but not exceptionally motivated), and I don’t want his brain to leak out his ears.

I would think the same thing, except that I know everything is okay on that score; he doesn’t have any anxiety over our basic financial security. Honestly, I think he’s just got a “thrift gene” - his paternal ancestors have a long history of financial behavior ranging from upright financial management to downright stinginess. And I’m a good Yankee who dislikes waste, plus a good environmentalist who scrupulously recycles and reuses. So I think he’s just in the process of incorporating good values, but isn’t sophisticated enough to know that actually, $60 is very easily affordable for us. Frankly, I prefer that to a blythe “hey mom and dad, buy me this, that and the other thing – I know you can afford it!”

Unavailable – if we get a Wii it will be over the summer when we are back in the States.

It’s up to you and I don’t think most people will think him spoiled. I’d say all, but this is a planet with billions of people, so somebody would bitch. Go buy it and stop worrying.

In my opinion, there’s a vast and huge difference between being “spoiled” and a “spoiled brat.” There’s nothing inherently wrong with having posessions as long as they don’t become the focus of your life or change you into a greedy, selfish person. It sounds like you’ve got a certfied “Good Kid” and that you don’t need to worry about him turning into a “spoiled brat” if you buy him another toy.

I grew up having whatever material things I wanted, but my parents made sure I understood the value of hard work and appreciation for how fortunate I was. I have to admit that it was a bit of an adjustement once I got out into the “real world” and realized I could no longer indulge my whims as I could when I was at home, but I managed. I don’t think my experiences as a child made me greedy or materialistic.*

It sounds like you’re doing a good job with him and that he’s going to turn out to be a well-adjusted, responsible person. Give him the Wii as a reward for being the great kid that he is.
*My major indulgence today is books, for which I do admit I have an insatiable greed. But that one gets a pass.

Yeah, let the little guy have his game system. From your OP, it sounds like there will be parental supervision, and rules regarding how much he’s allowed to use it. I don’t see any harm.

This is just a suggestion, but you said his spelling and handwriting was atrocious.

Make a deal with him? If he works to improve on them, when you go back to the states, you’ll think about getting a Wii.

My parents did that - you work for what you get. I did chores for my allowance, and when I wanted something special I worked on something I didn’t want to, that I was bad at, and tried to get better at it (that’s actually how I improved my typing).

Or anything else you think he might need help at. I mean, if he’s lacking in nothing but drive, that’s all you need, is something to inspire him. I’m not above bribing people to be better at something if it works.


I’d get him the Wii. He sounds like a great kid, you guys sound like great parents, and the Wii isn’t going to change that. Don’t attach conditions to it, just get it for him as a gift.

Definitely encourage your husband to play it with him and give it a try yourself. I’d treat solo play as falling under the same rules as his computer usage, but I’d allow additional time for group play, either with the family or with his friends. Playing games with other people will help him develop both his mental and social skills.

Don’t overthink things – it sounds like you’re doing a great job with this kid, and a gift isn’t going to change that.