Why We’re Not Keeping This Video Game Swag

I got to go to an event this week in Dallas where we talked a little about how video games affect kids, specifically girls.

It was interesting to hear, because I played my old school Nintendo from the age of 9-12 nearly every day. Granted I also played outside nearly every day, and I wasn’t vegging in front of a TV for hours on end (ok… maybe I did a few of those days, but I was THIS CLOSE to beating Super Mario, and that shiz was a PRIORITY), but  video games were a big part of that phase of my life. And I honestly think it helped me learn to process information faster, improved my spatial thinking, and kept me challenged. (Interestingly enough, The Cognitive Neuroscience of Video Games listed those among the skills people who play video games develop.)

So, I’m really not opposed to my children playing video games, like everything else, in moderation.

That said, Kendall is not keeping any of these 6 Activision games I came home with.

Nope, not even that cool one with the virtual puppy. (Wappy Dog… it pains me to part with it, it’s so. darn. cute.)

It’s NOT that I didn’t like these games. No! I loved them.

It’s just… he’s a boy… well, it’s not even that. Really, there were quite a few I’m sure he’d enjoy… if he were older, or if he wasn’t so wrapped up in sports.

But, I’m not going to hold onto these 6 really awesome Nintendo DS games that Activision sent me home with just to see if he’d like to play them some day. And as much as I’d like to fantasize that I’d have the time to sit around and play with the adorable Wappy Dog, that ain’t happening. I think my real dogs would riot and eat it since they hardly get enough attention from me as it is.

So, they’re all 6 going to kids who need them much more than my son does. One is going to a girl at Children’s Medical Center, another to a girl whose parents both lost their jobs. One is going to a girl whose mother AND father abandoned her this year and she’s now living with her grandparents. I’m smoothing out the details on the other 3.

(All of the recipients already have a Nintendo DS or are getting one from another toy donation for the holidays)

They’re going to girls who could use a little sunshine in their day, a game to get excited about, a challenge they can conquer. 

Kendall found the bag of games I was trying to hide in our room today.

“MOMMY!! Are those for ME?!”

I tried to explain that they weren’t. That they’re for kids who are in a tough spot right now, that their mommies and daddies need help, and that there are kids who don’t have all the cool toys and sports stuff he has.

I wish I could say it was an after-school-special kind of moment, and that he totally got it after that, but, you know, he’s 3.

It was the beginning of a dialogue I hope to have with him for many years though, about being kind and giving and thinking beyond himself. So maybe the message doesn’t stick today, and maybe he doesn’t really get it for a few years, but it’s a start.

I wish I could send so much more than just games to these girls. I wish I could wrap them up in hugs and high fives with confetti made of self-esteem and awesome.

Have you had conversations with your kids about giving? How did that go? I’d love to hear some tips on how to explain the importance of giving to the really young set.

Kendall is 3.5 years old

Activision gave me the following games: Wappy Dog, Zoobles, ZhuZhu Babies, Squinkies 2, Moshi Monsters Moshling Zoo, Lalaloopsy. I didn’t take any out of the package to play with them, but they all looked pretty cute. This isn’t really a review, but I didn’t get compensated, in case you’re wondering. I do love that I have the opportunity to help out 6 families now, though… so maybe I was compensated in warm fuzzies.


50 Things to Do Before You Deliver: The First Time Moms Pregnancy Guide
Available now: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

  • 61


  1. We are in the process of moving and going through Jack’s toys. I was able to get Jack, who s 4, to donate the toys he doesn’t play with anymore. I told him to give me all the toys he doesn’t play with so we could give them to another little boy who may not have lots of toys like he does an that there are lots of boys who would love to play with these toys. I was going to go more in depth but I lost him after that.
    It worked bc we were able to donate about half of his toys. He was really willing to donate his “baby” toys because he’s a big boy. Those were his words.

  2. I do talk to my kids about giving. Every time we purge their toys to make room for new we talk about giving to children in need and how we’re going to make another little boy or girl happy. Some of my kids have let go easier than others have. Sometimes I have had to actually have my child do the giving so she could see the look in the person’s eyes when she received that special something. If any of the people you are “regifting” to are local maybe you could bring Kendall along to show him the joys of giving.

    • I’m not sure he’s quite there yet, you know? I worry about taking him with me because I’m afraid he’d throw a tantrum and that might make the recipient feel bad. Plus, I’m pretty sure I’m just mailing everything out. BUT I definitely think in a couple years it would be good for him to be more involved like that. I’m thinking this year I’ll at least have him go with me to the Angel Tree to pick out a kid and then he’ll help me turn in those presents.

  3. There was a young man on the side of the road (small town we don’t get this, ever) with a sign saying “Homeless and hungry” playing guitar for change, maybe 17, my 4year old was with me, I gave him all the cash I had ($20) and then went and bought a giftcertificate for food. My sons response was “why are we giving him our money? We can’t buy toys now.” So we had that talk, about the boy not having food, or a home, or a family. His response was “Well he should get a daddy who can buy him a home and food” they are little and don’t quite understand. For Decemeber he has an “advent Calendar” but along with each chocolate is a “Random Act of Kindness” card, so each day we will go out and do one ROAK, he won’t quite understand it yet, but I hope that the giving someone something, helping, surprising people with kindness, the reaction of those people, will be something that leaves a lasting impression.

  4. Jamie McMillan on

    I love the ‘warm fuzzies’ compensation. You are awesome. Thanks for writing a blog I look forward to reading every single day!

  5. That’s great. I did just talk to my daughter about giving this year. I told her we were going to go through her things and give some toys to some children who need it, and would buy some toys for boys and girls who wouldn’t have Christmas presents otherwise. I asked her how that sounded and she responded, “Good.” We’ll see how she reacts when it actually happens.

    And Lalaloopsy is a game? Kadence keeps asking for one. I thought it was just a crazy looking doll.

  6. If I didn’t already love you before, I love you for this. (in a totally blog platonic non creepy way) –you’re chalking up a gold star somewhere.

  7. We’ve been talking about giving practically from birth. To give you hope, our 3.5 year old gets it. He will actually bring me toys he no longer likes to give to “kids who don’t have toys.” He still has his moments, but we let him choose the toys and items he wants to give away. However, there are toys (like plastic battery-operated ones) he gets for holidays that we immediately give away. Although he can get sad, we like to show him all the other neat things he got and that he doesn’t need any more toys. Brain-washing…err..parenting is working!

  8. We have been purging toys they don’t play with anymore or have outgrown in our house. Christmas is going to be a super tight budget in our house as well. It has just been a really rough year all around.
    I am glad I can teach the boys although we are not in the best of financial shapes ourselves, we still should give to those who are less fortunately because they don’t *NEED* all their old toys.
    Good for you Jill!

  9. Our conversation started really young, with all the impulse things by the checkout at the grocery store or Target. She would ask for one, and I would tell her no. She would ask why, and I explained that we can’t have everything we want because we have to leave some things for the other boys and girls. That was from about 16 months. As she got older, and we started with her toys, we talked about “the other boys and girls” and how some of them don’t have $ to buy toys, so we should give ones we don’t play with to stores where they can buy them/give them straight to them. That was from about 2 years. Then we moved on the yard sale…she went through her toys and put them in a box for sale. She also selected one replacement toy and she got to keep the $$ from the yard sale to buy that item. She also was encouraged to use her $$ to buy something for “the other boys and girls” and her sister. That was right at 4. Although it is still too abstract for her to fully grasp, she doesn’t have a problem leaving things for the other boys and girls, nor giving some of her things to them.
    Now, her younger sister is cut from different cloth altogether….

  10. My kids give every year. The day after Christmas, we go through all of their “old” toys (i.e. any toy given to them before the ridiculous X-mas extravaganza) and donate everything they say they’re done with. The kids get really excited about giving things to the boys and girls who need them, and it fulfills my constant need to purge (I can’t have too many things weighing me down at any one point — a product of my nomadic upbringing.)

    As soon as they get old enough, I want to have a family day working at a local food bank or kitchen.

  11. My youngest turns 4 in a month and we just went to Target and bought 2 toys for the Toys For Tots box. She enjoyed picking out the toys and putting them in the box! It was really difficult to explain that some little boys and girls do not have very many toys, I do not want her to know about sad things like that but at the same time, I DO want her to know, so that she can help as much as possible.

  12. Oh gosh, I’ve been trying so hard to do this with Jude but he can’t comprehend why Santa doesn’t just give them toys. I guess it’s kind of intense for a 3.5 year old to process, but we’re still working on it!

    • When my daughter was 3 and we were using her brothers old toys as her Christmas gifts, knowing she wouldn’t get what she was asking for. I just told her, Santa does his best but to get people what they want, but he just can’t get everything. Even now I’ve had to tell her that a $100 item was just to expensive for Santa to get her. She just says ok and moves on to 5 $20 things she wants 😉

  13. I’m lucky in the fact that both my kids are good about giving things up. But that also goes along with the fact that 3 years ago, when my daughter was 3, they had to give up their electronic toys so that I could sell them to Game Stop because we needed money for food and gas.

    Plus when my son at 4.5 declared there was no Santa Clause I brought him into the wonderful programs like Christmas Angel at Church. He had more fun the Christmas he was 5 picking out toys for someone else, even though that meant there were a few less presents under the tree. Emmy at 6 still has a desperate need to believe in Santa, and since money at times is still very tight I can’t do this with her yet. But she will pack up her out grown clothes to pass along to others.

  14. I think this is so great. We are keeping our games and giving them to our girls (probably a couple for Christmas and then others later). However, we would never have even purchased a DS if this opportunity had not come our way. So, I feel a little bad not giving mine away, but see this as a blessing to us and our family. And I saw your Twitter update that Activision is giving you more games to share! So great!

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.