Our Family’s (2nd) Year in the South of France
Kids and Castles - Our year with kids in the South of France

To DS or not to DS?

I know it’s RIDICULOUS, but one of the big decisions to make for this trip to France was whether or not to buy a Nintendo DS for each of the girls.

(What is the plural of DS?  DSes? DSs? Many DS? DI?)

Under normal circumstances, I probably wouldn’t get a toy like that for my kids until they were a bit older. Not that I think there’s anything wrong with video games for 5 and 6 year olds, but I wasn’t itching for the daily battle about “screen time” to expand any sooner than it had to. We have reached a pretty good place with our “TV-turning-off” skills, so having obtained “screen-peace” for at least a while, I wanted to savor that.

But we will be doing a LOT of traveling over the next year, and the DS does have a rather remarkable battery life, and it is more interactive than the DVD player (justify, justify, justify…)  so I decided to go ahead.

Z Playing Super Mario Brothers on the Flight to Saskatoon

Z Playing Super Mario Brothers on the Flight to Saskatoon

It’s turned out pretty much exactly as I expected – with one notable exception. The kids spend hours happily playing with them on a plane or in the back of the car.  It’s a good thing.  Plane rides are hard on little people. And on the flip side when we’re not traveling, we do fight about how much they can play.  I’m sure we’ll figure that out with time, but right now it’s driving me crazy.

The Exception: I didn’t realize that *I* would have to learn the games so that I could teach them how to play.  And I really didn’t expect that I would get hooked on Super Mario Brothers. This is frankly embarrassing for a woman who is turning 40 to say, but that is a really GREAT game. I missed it 25 years ago when most of my generation went through that phase, but I’m definitely a fan now.  Thankfully 25 years later we have the internet with “guides” and “cheats”. I didn’t even know what a cheat was two weeks ago.

Now my problem is waiting for L to go to bed so I can get my turn playing, or convincing them that they need Mommy’s help to get more “fire guys” during their allotted playing times. And I must figure out how to get the kids to sleep on the plane so I can get past the second world before we get to France.

8 Responses to “To DS or not to DS?”

  1. Maha says:

    You’re a better mom than I! My older one just got a DS (he paid for it himself!) and I have no idea what game even came with it, let alone figure out how to play it. I did help get the systems settings set up, though. I guess that counts for something, right?

  2. vered says:

    Our youngest (age 8) has a DS and loves it. After the initial excitement, she doesn’t abuse it. I would go for it…

  3. Louis Morrissette says:

    There is no age for video games. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s fun and relieves stress. I will play all my life. 🙂

  4. Emanuela Todaro says:

    Just one thing… remember the difference in electrical standard. The DS is one of the few electronic devices that is not double standard 110/220. I wonder why they did that, being something that you carry all over the world. Check if they haven’t changed it on newer versions, but I doubt it.
    That means that you will have to carry two bulky transformers with you at all times in France 🙁
    I know because that’s what I have to do when I travel with my kids in Europe
    Except for that it is great for travelling

  5. GBK Gwyneth says:

    I came over to make the same comment Emanuela did. Instead of transformers, etc, we bought a USB charger for our girls’ DSes for travel. No need to carry extra bulky things since the DSes can be charged through the computer’s USB port!

  6. Erika says:

    …Definitely want to hear how the DS works over the long term. I am personally worried about the addictive nature of them and the fear that they will ONLY want to play with their DS’s. When I first started University and got my 1st computer(Seriously dating myself!) I couldn’t stop playing tetrus. Litterally pulled all-nighters….so if any of this is hereditary you can imagine my concern!

  7. GBK Gwyneth says:

    Erika – I had the same concerns. We don’t have cable and it took me a long time before I let DH buy a Wii… I finally gave into getting the DS after our trip to Japan – 14 hours on a plane, 3 hours in Narita – more hours on a plane. Then all the long train rides while we were there. While we were there, I sure wished we had DSes!

    My girls (11 and 8) know they are only for long plane, car, train trips (or maybe the line at the DMV?). They are one thing in our bag of tricks for long trips. After a while of playing on them, they go off and other things come out. Books (and the kindle), drawing pads, knitting, pop-beads, the list goes on! At home and around town, the DSes stay off. And they don’t get used for car trips under 3 hours. Setting the ground rules at the start is one of the better decisions I’ve made, I think.

  8. […] This would be a fun family outing. We grabbed the girl’s doudous (stuffed animals) and the DSes and headed out.  There was a TGV (high-speed train) leaving Lyon at 11:30, so we left at 8:30 to […]