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Nerd Dads Raising Kids (An Interview With Justin Pavey)

Justin Pavey returns to the show for a third time to talk all things parenting, digital, and raising kids in a nerdy house with Jesus at the center. Today we discuss how we handle kids and video games, how we determine limits with tech, parenting children well in a nerd world, and determining time limits.

Want more of Justin? Check out:

episode 5 & episode 101

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Speaker 1 [00:00:02] Purposely. Your life, God’s purpose. Listen that 

Nathan [00:00:09] Heavenly Father, thank You for this time. I praise You for this opportunity to talk with Justin and with these parents about technology and about what it looks like to use tech from home. Would You give us wisdom when You open our hearts in this conversation, our ears, to hear what You have to say to us? And would people be blessed, encouraged in this time in Your name, amen. 

Nathan [00:00:26] Welcome to the Gospel Tech podcast, a resource for parents who feel overwhelmed and outpaced as they raise healthy youth in a tech world. As an educator, parent and tech user, I want to equip parents with the tools, resources and confidence they need to raise kids who love God and use tech. All right. Hi, everyone. My name is Nathan Sutherland, and this is Justin Pavey. 

Justin [00:00:59] Welcome. I mean hello. 

Nathan [00:01:01] We are pumped to have you guys here. So just has been here. Is this our third time? So if you go back to, like, February of last year and then the February before that, Justin’s been here through all of it. We are excited today to talk a little bit about technology. You can go back to those if you want more of a deep dive on Justin’s life, because I think in the first one back in 2020 or whatever, we nerd out hard in like the first eight episodes. But today we are talking as two full adult nerds who just own that moniker now, because we realize it doesn’t mean we’re going to be alone forever. We’re going to be talking about what does it look like to raise kids in this space? And specifically, I just wanted to start with so a little context. Justin and I were just talking I kind of introduce like, would this work for you? This conversational piece of, I as an adult am fascinated by certain things in technology. Like, I love learning about video games, for example, but I don’t let my kids play video games. So as an adult, I’d love to hear your thoughts. What is kind of your mindset on because you currently game, but your kids don’t. So where is the limit? What’s your mindset in going through it? And for the little bit of context, just for people who weren’t part of that conversation. This last week found out of about a game that came out and I think nine years ago now. I just found out about it’s called Child of Light. If you want to go check it out. And it blew my mind. It’s a platformer, so it’s like side scrolling kind of Mario Brothers, but it’s done in like a watercolor like effect and it’s got an engaging story. And just like, I don’t know how it passed me, it was made by a company, the same company that makes Far Cry and Assassin’s Creed, so not thoughtful, like beautiful games, like games that are basically as hack and slash and like tropey as you can get. And I was like, I missed it completely. I was completely blown away. And I had two thoughts. I came inside and told Anna I was like, “I just found out about this game and it like, makes me rethink about, like the creative process and like what people can do.” So I’m fascinated by it and I just like it’s in my head and I’m just like churning on it. And I never want my children to find out about this. Like it was this simultaneous reaction of like, I am blown away and fascinated and amazed and I hope my boys never find out this game is a thing. 

Justin [00:03:22] It was just too beautiful. 

Nathan [00:03:24] I was like, What is this reaction that’s happening? And so that’s I’m still processing actively this question of like, am I being duplicitous because it’s something beautiful and amazing that is fascinating to me. And I’m like, “but my kids can’t be a part of it.” Or is there something else going on that’s like a spidey sense of like, no, no, like part of Nathan is broken and I’ve had to address this. I don’t play video games anymore. I do research them by the way. It’s part of my job is to know what’s happening in games, which is why I’m horrified it took me a decade to find out about this game. But so, like, I do that and I can be healthy and I know that will get to how I know that later. But to get the story off of my story, that’s all the context in your life then, as someone who actively games but children don’t, what does that look like and how do you make that determination? 

Justin [00:04:12] Yeah, it’s funny because when we were just doing the quick run through beforehand and you’re like, “Hey, I got a couple questions. Do you feel prepared?” The answer probably should have been, “No, I don’t feel prepared.” But what really struck me just when you were giving me some sneak peeks there was how often we do things or it’s the way it’s done and you don’t actually necessarily think it through or I’m like, “Why do I do it that way?” So that’s why I still said, “Yeah, I feel totally prepared.” Because, you know, I think all of us at different times or different things in our life, I actually should spend a moment to pause and reflect on that. So yeah, that said, when it comes to that, yeah, it’s, I mean, growing up and I hope they’re not rehashing things from years past podcast. 

Nathan [00:04:55] They don’t remember I promise. Yeah, there’s very few of you except like our parents who went back and really listen to those prior to this.

Justin [00:05:02] I don’t even think my dad did. 

Nathan [00:05:03] I got to get set up on the trilogy. Yeah, I got to be ready for the next release. 

Justin [00:05:07] Exactly. I mean, I grew up just playing constantly, right? As I look back now, I wouldn’t have thought of it in that way. 

Nathan [00:05:16] Playing games?

Justin [00:05:17] Playing games, playing video games. I think we’re talking board games later. I didn’t even know, you know, my favorite gladiator quote, “Who knew man could build such things?” But anyway, getting on a tangent. So I just played, it seems like in my recollection, constantly as a kid, right? Looking back now to the detriment of other things. So that’s an important aspect that my wife and I have talked about is the thing with technology or in case video games is it’s like it seems it may not have empirical evidence. It seems like it’s a more risky thing, a more likely thing for kids, our kids in this case, to want to do that to the detriment of other things?And that strikes a chord with me because I look at my own childhood and I thought, “I totally do that.” Right? And there weren’t really limitations or restrictions on how much I played or what I played. I just it wasn’t even a consideration like, “Oh, how much is too much or am I?” It was like, “I feel like playing a game. I’m going to play a game.” Right? And so that’s not a healthy attitude, I’d say, let alone in there enter into your adult years. So yeah, so I guess when I ponder it now or when I talk about it with Nicole, that’s what my radar’s hitting. It’s like there’s so many cool things you can be interested in or wonderful things in God’s creation or the creative process that He has that I don’t want something to give tunnel vision to my kids and be like, you know, I mean, that that really struck me in our previous conversations where you said, right, it didn’t matter where I was in the world or what cool thing I was doing, I was thinking, “When’s the next time I can make a little bit more progress on Final Fantasy?” Insert your favorite number, Right?

Nathan [00:07:12] The right answer is six, everyone. 

Justin [00:07:15] Oh, I got that wrong. But yeah, and that struck a chord with me too, because it’s like, Oh, there’s definitely seasons of my life, you know, high school years by a little bit of college where it’s like, whatever I’m doing is okay, but it’s going to be a lot better when I’m a level 42 Paladin in World of Warcraft. Right? And you look at that now and you kind of pick that up off the shelf and like, that’s a terrible look. That sounds really bad.

Nathan [00:07:42] But it was real. But it was real. And your life reflect reflected that reality. Like you were living life in light of that, like that was a priority. 

Justin [00:07:49] Yeah. And it’s not like I read a book or I did a thing and it was like, suddenly that changed. I think that’s just the the work of the Holy Spirit and the gospel. You know, I feel like every day this week I’ve talked about the idea of you know, it being in your head, but then penetrating down to your heart. And just the Lord having things penetrate down to the heart to make it make me go from well, of course, I just want to get back and become a level 43, but instead being like, “Wait, why do I want to do that?” Or “What’s behind that desire?” Right? And so I guess getting trying to get back to your question with kids, I feel like they’re not well equipped to examine their hearts. They don’t have a lot of experience. You can be exposed to things, whether it’s video games or movies or obviously things that are, you know, a lot darker than that it can be so impactful that it’s very disruptive to that self-reflection and that question of like, “What am I chasing? What’s my heart going after here?” 

Nathan [00:08:51] Yeah, which I do love that as just like as I process it of like, yeah, there is something to like, I am fascinated by this game and it comes partly from nostalgia and from all the positive experiences. Like you probably don’t look at all those things you gamed and think, “That was terrible.” Like in your brain you’re like, “I see that it was misplaced, but like, it was also awesome.” Like, I don’t know if you hold that with both hands. Like, I don’t hate my years of gaming, even though I haven’t gamed in 11 and a half years. 12 years next month, which is crazy. Anniversary Party May 15, 2011 everyone come celebrate with me on 12 years. So I don’t look back on that time to think, “Oh man I wasted my childhood.” In fact, I think that’s really dangerous for for us to get into, dangerous for us to get into, because it does two things. One, it somehow emphasizes these other experiences and it’s like, but if you had just Nathan, if you had just fished more, then you’d be a better person. Like, well, like I know some pretty terrible people who fish a lot like, and they’re horrible people because they don’t have a heart change like I needed Jesus, and that was the end goal. So I don’t want to somehow say like video games are somehow this space that will usurp our children’s will and like, possess them and they have no chance of redemption. But I also in the nostalgic part, I’m like, man, I would love for my kids to experience X game that I had a really good time doing. But man, with those adult eyes I can also see like, yeah, it added some roadblocks that weren’t necessary and I don’t think they’re avoidable sometimes. I think the reason as you were talking with this game specifically it’s these old school side scrolling the combat is like a semi turn based combat system so it’s an older feel. It has very similar actually to some Final Fantasy stuff. But, they have a lot of new world kind of tricks built in and interactions and that the hook even just the equipment you can get, is just more nuanced. They have a system where you can add crystals to your weapons and stuff, right? And like upgrade that way. Just that level of I remember Final Fantasy 7 came out and you could augment actually it was Dreamcast was the first game, I think it was Soul Blade, something like that where you could augment your weapons with outside, you know, embers or whatever and that blew my mind. And that is one more reason to come back and play because now you can upgrade. Right? It’s not just the storyline we’re here for anymore. It’s now getting the stuff and getting the equipment and getting the drops and the loot. And now that this modern game has this old style play, I feel like it’s got a little bit more of a siren’s call where I’m like, Man, if Owen discovered this game, it would eat his face. It would absolutely destroy him, right? It would just he wouldn’t be able to think about anything else because God’s wired him for intensity and focus and determination and curiosity and like all those things are there, but they’re now embedded in this 15 hour game and he’s not going to be okay until it’s over. And I just like, man, if I have an option, like if I can choose to not put him in that position, I’m going to opt out of that because there’s other awesome ways to get adventure. Which in hearing you, I think that might be where I’m coming from. Because that’s something I’m processing because my concern I guess I would push this back to you is…Where’s the danger and duplicity as parents? So if I’m fascinated, should I be gaming and just find a way to be safe? I think I’ve come to grips with that because I’ve tried that argument a lot in my journey, but it’s something I get asked a lot is, “Hey, why don’t you just, like, get healthier and like limit the amount or like only play with people, right? Why do you have to be this? I haven’t gamed in 12 years, guy?” So I have to put that to you. I offend a lot of people with this and not intentionally for the most part. Every once in awhile. I need to repent and I do. But in your case, do you feel that that limit for your children and safeguard is reasonable when it doesn’t apply to you? And how far out do you think that limit goes? Spontaneous question. I don’t know that you have a planned answer for that. 


Justin [00:12:58] I don’t have a planned answer, so I guess well, let’s hop on and see where this takes us. But yeah, I guess for me a big thing is it’s the amount that I have played and is like so massively diminished that it’s not like… 

Nathan [00:13:16] When are you playing? Let’s give us the picture. Because I think some people hear this and think like, you’re in the den during dinner time playing video games. 

Justin [00:13:21] No, never. So basically if I do at all now, which is not like, you know, previous stages of life, it would have been a guaranteed right? Yeah, you know, why else would I wake up early other than to get in some time before everyone else is awake and then I’m like, busted, you know? So anyway, so now it’s just basically when I work out, right? So and even then not every time, but I guess the…Maybe this is just justification, right? But it’s like I’m already working out. I’m just like on a bike or a treadmill already. Like I’m not otherwise in the family room or with Nicole or whatnot. So if I do, it’s then right? Where it’s like I’m here. It makes the time go fast. Does that sound terrible to say that? As far as working out, right? It’s like, okay, I want to get my 30 minutes. This will make 30 minutes feel a lot faster than at times in life where I’ve tried reading a book while working out. 

Nathan [00:14:19] I’ve done that as well. It’s really painful. 

Justin [00:14:22] Yeah. I was like, I don’t care how great the book is. It’s excruciating because it must have been 30 minutes, like it’s been 3 minutes. Oh, what? Oh, so yeah. So in that regard, it’s almost it’s taken like a different…It used to be like oh there’s my go to for my happy place or the true form of entertainment in my life. And now it’s like, man, this really makes working out a lot faster for a lot more, a lot more fun than just, like, staring at how bad my mileage miles per hour are for the Peloton. 

Nathan [00:14:53] Yeah, that makes sense. That’s when oftentimes if I’m watching gameplay like that’s when I’m watching it. When I’m riding my bike on a stationary bike inside like, yeah, like I can watch some gameplay and I’ve shifted. I actually watch a lot of nerdy bike races like the Paris–Roubaix or the…

Justin [00:15:11] This doesn’t surprise anyone. 

Nathan [00:15:12] Paris-Nice. Anyway so that’s like I do one of the two typically so I totally get that and that makes sense. So that’s your time for gaming. What then is your expectation? Let’s being very specific. So for my family, Anna and I talked it out, we’re like, you know what? The kids who play video games, they were at a cousin’s house. They had an old school Nintendo Wii, not even a Wii U like the old Wii. 

Justin [00:15:36] Gasp. 

Nathan [00:15:39] Aghast. There is a four player Mario game. So we gave Hadley and Owen and Henry and cousin one and they’ve played for I think 30 minutes and they beat two levels barely. It’s the version where if someone runs far enough ahead, you can either go into a bubble or it’ll just kill you. Those are your choices and I was like, “That’s pretty rough that sometimes you float up to them and sometimes you just die.” So it was very I mean, they didn’t know like basics of like, “oh, if you hold like B, you can run faster. And if you run and then jump, you can jump farther.” 

Justin [00:16:15] I hope you weren’t embarrassed of their lack of skill. 

Nathan [00:16:17] No it was amazing actually. The first time they held the joy-con, they held it vertically and they were like, “I don’t know what I’m doing.” Like it was just a remote control. And I was like, “Oh yeah, you’ve never actually held one of these. Like you don’t know about A and B and like, the plus sign goes on the left, son.” Like, I was like, “I never had to have these conversations.” It was fun to watch. But for the next three weeks I think, they couldn’t dial down. We played it 30 minutes one time and for the next three weeks they’re like, “When do we get to like, go play again?” Like, this is not even on the same side of the state anymore. It’s across a mountain range, son. And in watching that, like this is the conversation even about this Mario movie that is coming out when they are so pumped to watch it. I’m like, I want you to watch it because I know you’ll love it and I love to give you good things and I know what’s going to start the whole nother. Like it’s not really fair… 

Justin [00:17:09] What about this? What about this? What about this? 

[00:17:09] Yeah. To watch Mario and not let you participate in Mario. That is a duplicitous in that. 

Justin [00:17:16] I actually this makes me have a question for you because I bet there’s somebody listening that would be thinking, “Well, wouldn’t you say because you’ve withheld this from your kids that that’s why they’re so like, “Ahhhh.” But if you just had given them that the drip, drip, drip, trickle earlier in life or, you know, how are you, how would you answer that question? 

Nathan [00:17:43] Yeah. No, and that’s one I get a lot. And I think there’s really two parts to that because it is a really good question. The first is we have no evidence that kids who discover video games later in life are like bingeing and using losing their jobs and their wives to video games, having never discovered them before. What we tend to see is we have a history of gaming and it turns at some point from a game, from a place of hope to a game for hope and gaming is that really easy outlet. And some of it is gaming’s fault because video games are really easy. They’re type one fun. You can have fun without even knowing what you’re doing, like you’re just running through. It’s all scripted, it’s all designed for you. It has teams of amazing people that make it visually and audibly and experience fun. The storylines are solid, the characters are great. The the behavioral development for everything from hit and miss effects to leveling and skill trees is in depth. The loot drops are next level, like the whole thing can be engrossing to the point where you’re convinced you need it when you never wanted it. So I think that’s one side is like we’re not seeing kids discover video games as adults and lose their minds. Like it’s just not happening. And that’s the same that even with anyway, I could get tangential on that. But we’re not seeing that there’s not a huge rash of kids going off. I think the main concern is the repressing side. If my son really wants this thing and I am intervening because I believe this so know…Parents this is coming out of Jesus saying what parent asking when their child asking for an egg would give them a scorpion? 

Justin [00:19:18] Right. 

Nathan [00:19:19] If my son is saying, “Dad, I really want an egg, I want to play this video game, This is very important to me.” This thing now has value. It didn’t matter before. I had attempted to kind of like delay the conversation, but at some point it matters because my son is asking for it. All right. I love you. I now need to assess, am I giving you an egg or a scorpion? And in this case, in my personal experience, like, son, I’m not giving up video games because I hate them. I’m giving up video games because I love them at the cost of other things that are really important that I’m called to. Like, I can’t manage video games. I don’t have a dial up a switch, and my switch is has to be on or off. Now for them. I mean, literally letting them play for 30 minutes was the beginning of the drip. I have an idea. I know how they’re wired. Again, I mentioned Owen’s intensity. I mentioned Henry. I haven’t mentioned Henry in this talk, but Henry’s immediate presence and his ability to just be present in a room and in a situation at the expense sometimes of the past and the future. Hadley’s ability to be so social and just so blessed, and her extroverted and her desire to see other people involved. Those are great things, and I want to see things that feed them. So I want them to use all the tech that’s going to help them do those things better and love God more. And none of the tech that’s going to distract him. And with a 30 minute introduction, I can tell you, like these games are so available and so ready and so accessible for areas that feel like success that they immediately started to detract from things that my kids were good at. So the whole idea of like, if your kid never plays a video game, they’re going to discover it later in life and go on a bender, isn’t real. That’s a false premise you’ve given me. I do think it’s real that if your kid is asking for this thing and you continue like, “Well, just in a couple of years…” you are building up this this expectation of awesome. Especially parents. We do this when we withhold video games and say, “You don’t get this video game until you do what I want.” Which in argument is saying, “I don’t want you to play video games, they’re bad for you. But if you’re really good, I’ll give you the super unhealthy thing.” So don’t do that. Don’t set video games as a reward that once you do all this other stuff in life, you can finally attain the pinnacle of the mountain. Instead, that’s how you build unhealthy gaming habits. What you want to do is say, “All right, I’ve agreed that video games are going to be fine for you. We’ve talked about it, so I know it’s safe. I know it lines up with our family expectations and I know it’s good for your purpose in this season.” Those are the three things you have to assess to say this isn’t actually an egg. I’m okay giving it to you. At that point, we can set our time limits, say great, and we have time expectation just like anything else. So you’re going to play 30 minutes, three days a week or whatever it is. And now that’s our expectations and that’s where the reset comes in. We say, “All right, does this improve or impede your relationships and responsibilities, emotion, sleep, enjoyment, time?” And at that point, okay, great. You’re healthy, you’re gaming well. I’m fine with that. Like I made this decision. You’re earning the trust. You’re faithful in the little things like, good for you with my kiddos and my past. I’m like, “Hey, we can’t have video games in our house.” I let you play at someone else’s house and it ate you alive like I was pretty sure it would. Because I watch much lower grade shows do that and I’ve watched I mean, just simple like Wildcrafts can be too much for our kids sometimes. And people bring this up all the time with me like, “Nathan, you can’t be in a room around a screen. Is this because your parents raised you without a TV?” It’s like, “No, it’s why my parents raised me without a TV.” Like they had a TV and then they had me and they’re like, “Oh, no, right. This kid, like, Nathan can’t handle TVs. Like he needs something else to help him focus and blossom.” So they literally got rid of a TV and in watching that for myself being like…I’m not ruined because I didn’t watch Friends in high school. Like I’ve seen enough. I get the idea like, I got it. But I didn’t somehow, like not be capable of sharing the gospel or loving people because I didn’t have this cultural, which was the argument at the time is you have to be culturally relevant. I think relevance is overrated sometimes. I think the entire premise of being countercultural is not necessarily being relevant. Not knowing the answers, not knowing like the last question, why is this attractive? Why doesn’t this bother us? Like being on the outside has been helpful. I think it’s actually a big reason why I do this job is growing up without television and having 20 years of my life. Guess what, folks? I don’t go on benders with television now. I see people watch television. I’m like, “Oh, that’s painful.” Anna, you guys know. This is a point of contest for us, is she loves television. It’s important to her. She values it. It’s something fun she does and enjoys. And I kind of loathe it. It’s painful for me. We watched Seinfeld last night and I do it because I love Anna. I don’t complain. I’m not griping about it, but I’m like, If I’m left to myself, I’d do something else. I think that’s what I want for my boys and for Hadley. I want them to grow up knowing what adventure and fun and enjoyment and engagement looks like. So when they see video games, they’ll be able to test really well. Like, “Oh, this is like when I have fun with my friends and family doing other things.” And then they’ll get that whiff of like, “Oh, weird. Like, I never once have locked myself in a room for a 12 hour day when it’s sunny outside to be able to indulge in something that isolates me from everyone else, Like what’s happening right there?” Right? Like I want that to trigger that because for me, that was normal. Like, for me, I was like, Yeah, of course you do that because it’s awesome. Like, I want that. And yeah, why wouldn’t you do that? You just had 12 hours to do this. And I saw my hope is to get them to fall in love with so much of the awe and amazement of God’s creation and the people around them. They’ll have this just kind of spidey sense that when it comes to games, they’ll be able to delineate, though this is a game done well and I want to be a part of it because it helps me hang out people. I’m sure you had this experience like there were social gaming times that were great. I played Goldeneye and Blitz and like lots of social fun games that brought people together, but that wasn’t the basis of our friendship. Then I had friendships that were based on video games that when I said, “Hey, I can’t game anymore and be well.” People are like, “Cool, let us know when you change that.” They went back to that stuff they were like…

Justin [00:25:18] I always knew you were lame.

Nathan [00:25:19] Yeah, and that never to be seen again. They just replace me with some other profile picture in their group. So I think for me, when I get asked that, that’s the the long answer. One, I want to be intentional to recognize that it’s a false premise of a question that’s not happening. We’re not somehow going to ruin our children by not giving them video games or smartphones or whatever the thing is, social media. But if they want it, I want to give them good gifts. So then that brings me to the…Is this going to help my child? And if it isn’t, I’m very clear with them. The boys know why they don’t have video games. Dad’s unhealthy and I too am not convinced this is a net gain for you. I think there’s a lot of really cool things out there. I’m going to release them to you, but each time I give it to you and it blows you up, like, it’s just you’re not ready yet. And I’m going to let you make that decision later on in life. And yeah, when they turn 20, if they decide that that’s what they want to do, like I’ll be praying for them and we’ll have conversations about their purpose. But the main thing is that idea that I’m controlling their access to things and if they were really driving hard at it, that’s what I need to go after. Is that they just can’t let it drop of like, “No! Like you never let me do anything awesome and I just need this game.” Like what? I need this game to be okay or I need more time with this game to be okay. That’s my parenting moment 

Justin [00:26:36] That’s a red flag. 

Nathan [00:26:37] Yeah. So that’s my parenting moment because now I’m not going, “Oh, well, I have to give you these games or you’ll be mad at me.” Or, “No, you’ll never get these games because I have to win.” I go, “No, like I love you. I love you and I want to see you flourish in who God’s made you to be in. You’re beautiful and you’re smart and you’re incredible and you’re gifted. So let’s talk about this idea that you need this game. And Justin, by the way, mentioned it doesn’t matter where you are in the world. I was literally in Rwanda with a woman who started an orphanage and I was in my room. It had been as a longer trip. It was tied up in like a study abroad thing. So this was week like nine of being gone. So nine weeks, multiple months of being away. And I was like…I was having these replays of a video game I played, Neverwinter Nights. And I was like, All I can think about is how I want to find this plus one plate armor. Like, this is the most bizarre experience I’ve ever had. There’s no way to play it. I don’t have like a steam deck or something on me that I can get out and get on. There’s no Internet. There’s no electricity in this part of where we were in Rwanda. They were going through brownouts and so the lights would just turn off. And so you were going to bed at 7 p.m. because it was 7 p.m., sundown 7 a.m. sunrise, and that was it. And so I was just laying in the dark. I think I had a head lamp and like reading a book and I was like, I want to get home so bad so I can go level up my plate armor. And I was like, What is happening? Like, I haven’t been around this stuff for multiple months and this is what’s going on my head. I was a junior in college at that point and I was like, “Oh no, I’m in my twenties and this isn’t getting better, it’s getting worse.” Which, by the way, the average gamer right now is 33. There’s more people who play video games over the age of 45 than under the age of 18. Like video games haven’t gotten less awesome in the last decade. They’ve gotten way more awesome. And that is part of I think, what you were verbalizing. And my concern is, man, if I hand my kids a modern video game, I’m handing them way more than what I went through with Mario or Zelda at 16 bit and then 32 bit and 128. These are really high octane, well-designed, engaging activities. So yeah, that’s how I would answer that on the limits and that is why I set limits, is because I love my kiddos and I want them to be more than just good gamers, which we could roll into a number of places. But let me see… 

Justin [00:28:58] See how I turned that around on you so I didn’t have to answer? 

Nathan [00:29:00] I appreciate that. Was I suppose to ask you something that you haven’t answered or…? 

Justin [00:29:04] No, No, not at all. But yeah, just one more thing I was thinking of when you were talking was earlier you mentioned nostalgia, right? And that’s a part of why in my conversations with Nicole about not doing video games or, you know, again, they’ve played it in birthday parties or things like that, it’s not like forbidden. Don’t do it. You’re not going to that party because they might have the video games out. But because I can totally relate with that nostalgia aspect and the, “Oh, but wasn’t it so cool that first time that my dad and I saw the very end of this one…” You know? So, yeah, it gets intertwined with, you know, some of the… 

Nathan [00:29:44] Link’s Awakening. 

Justin [00:29:45] Yeah. There you go. 

Nathan [00:29:46] That’s the one that blew my mind. 

Justin [00:29:47] So, you know, there’s times I’m like, “Oh, wouldn’t it just be cool if we could just do Super Smash Brothers?” I think that’s still a thing, you know, as a family or whatnot. But I know that it’s all wrapped up in kind of these childhood memories or things that evokes that. It’s not necessarily you know, I can get it idealized in my mind, but it doesn’t mean that that’s going to be the experience they have especially in light of like yeah, not again, getting back to the idea of not being to the detriment of all things. And so Nicole, having grown up with you and even watched you playing video games and seeing the TV go bye bye. You know, she has a different expense. And for her, she doesn’t have that nostalgia of like, “Oh, wouldn’t that be cool or this or that.” And so that’s really actually helpful to me because sometimes it’s a check on my own attitudes about like, “Well, why would I want to do this with the kids.” Or roll it out when there’s like not even a need, right? It’s not like there’s this great clamoring or like you said, it’s not one of the goals in my life for my kids to become expert video game players. 

Nathan [00:30:56] Right. Which I think some people it is. And there’s a conversation on, can you do that well? I think parents, as we’re thinking through like e-sports, which in the state of Washington, I want to say it’s next year. So 2023-24 WIAA is going to release rules for high school level e-sports gaming. If you don’t know what that means, are going to play games competitively in tournaments for victories for state title, it’ll be a Washington sponsored event. Again, we have Microsoft and Google and Amazon and and Valve and a lot of amazing game design companies and computer companies in this area. So it will be well funded, supported, and sponsored. But to the extent that it can be, there are rules on how companies can be involved, but schools will receive supplies, I’m certain, and I think it can be done. Well, in fact, it’s not a spoiler alert, but there’s a local school and they were saying, like basically, like this is what we’re interested in, you know, would you want to coach it? I was like, no, I don’t want to coach it, but I do want to like, I want to be like a like a counselor for it. Because I really think, like, the importance is and if you have people in the e-sports, this would be this idea of like, all right, like, let’s put in the right priority though. Like first as a Christian, you are a child of God. Like, first things first. That’s that’s what we’re going to do. Then you’re going to be an excellent son or daughter. Then you are going to be a steward of your world. You’re going to be a student, you’re going to be a servant of others, and you’re going to be taking care of the planet and good general citizen, and then you’re going to win championships. And I don’t care if we’re talking wrestling or if we’re talking Fortnite or Overwatch 2 or whatever game they’re playing. You are going to do these things in this order. So while pro gamers are going six days a week, 16 hours a day right now to try to make it through the grind, you may not be able to do that. Like you may be trying to be the best of the best, but you’re going to be gone 6 hours a day. Right? Think about any other sport and people like why is it different from any other sport? 6 hours a day is pro-level. You practice football for 6 hours, like you’re going to be toast. You’re going to be mentally exhausted. You play video games. 

Justin [00:32:55] Physical limitations. 

Nathan [00:32:57] Yeah, you play video games for 12 to 16 hours. You’re going be so wired you can’t sleep for the remaining eight. Like it’s a different experience and it takes so little physical investment, but such a high level of emotional and mental investment that I think you can get unhealthy in a hurry. So that being said, that is the idea behind boundaries. But you mentioned something that I wanted to outside of the nostalgia, we haven’t limited our kids from nerd dumb in general, which is an interesting world as a Christian to introduce like…our kid Owen, for his ninth birthday, had a LARPing birthday. Like like if you don’t know what that means, he had foam swords and shields and spears and a bow and arrow. In fact, right outside this room there’s a bow with foam tipped arrows next to it. And they were out in the cul de sac yesterday shooting them. So we have allowed our children a deep dive in a nerd-dom. Like LARPing is. I mean, it used to just be in movies and people didn’t know it was a thing. And I don’t actually LARP. We don’t have levels or names, although the guy who taught us how to do it definitely called himself Hannibal and wore a jerkin and an amazing ponytail, so. 

Justin [00:34:03] Something to aspire to. 

Nathan [00:34:05] Something to live up to, Chris. So the idea then that we have led our children to some of these spaces, right? Our kids play board games that have a high level of nerd-dom and nerd lore. They listen to Lord of the Rings or read the books. Henry’s reading The Hobbit right now, like Tolkien and these fantasy worlds. How do you delineate the Lord that is in some of it because it’s not all happy, like some of it is dark, including the game that we just are playing you graciously gifted me with. How do you handle that conversation with your kids when it may not be video game, but video games are the only spot that ideas come from. They’re just aggressively engaging. Board games are lower speed, so that can be a perk, but they can still have a lot of the dark stuff to it. How do you manage the nerd world? 

Justin [00:34:50] I think a lot of it is just continually building up again, I mentioned it before, right? Their ability to ponder, consider and think through like, what is it that I’m taking in? And you know, what is it that’s coming out of me as a result? And so, you know, a lot of that. You know, this again, hearkens back to age old podcasts we’ve done, right? We talked about like, well, what are the things that are appealing to me in this story or in this nerd aspect of nerd culture? You know, what is that a reflection of? And so a lot of the times it’s a conversation I’ll have with the kids about like, you know, if we’re thinking about why that was so exciting or, you know, what was appealing about that particular character? You know I’m reading them the Two Towers right now, for example. And, you know, or why do we care so much? Like, why is it so impactful on our hearts? I mean, this is the easiest one, right? When somebody like, sacrifices themself for someone else, whether it’s Boromir or yeah. Whether it’s in a book, it’s in a board game, in a movie, whatever might be right. And you know, the kids always roll their eyes and laugh whenever I’m like, Why do we think that’s appealing? Because they’re like, “Because Dad, Jesus said, there’s no greater love than the man would lay down his life for another.” But that’s the kind of conversations you have, right? And it’s like, what about this? You know, examine your heart and think about like, why is this so appealing or why is this interesting? So I think as you build up that lens and that critical thinking and, you know, it’s like a muscle that you can develop and work. And I think that’s to their benefit, right? So that as they encounter things, you can apply that lens to it and look through that with the Christian worldview and examine you know, whatsoever things are pure or just or beautiful verses, are they not? 

Nathan [00:36:48] Little Philippians 4:8 there yeah. 

Justin [00:36:51] It was kind of a, you know, modified, justified. 

Nathan [00:36:56] Justin Pavey translation. That’s fair. We know what you’re saying. Yeah. 

Justin [00:37:03] So I think a lot of the things as I examined my own heart, right, with nerd culture are things that are cool or interesting, it’s those things that are like, it’s like the law of God written on our hearts. Oh, well, the reason that’s so appealing is because it’s actually pointing to the very ways in which we are made or to aspects of our Father or whatnot. Right? And that’s actually what’s feeding it. And so that I think the struggle that we can all have is, well, one, you don’t recognize that connection or that you know, you mentioned kind of your is it for hope or, you know… 

Nathan [00:37:37] Yeah. Is it from hope or for hope?

Justin [00:37:39] Exactly. Now has that now supplanted what should be behind it instead of making it? 

Nathan [00:37:47] Which is, which is huge. I love that because that I think is another reason it just in hearing you say that why I delay video games for my kids. You can look at I mean Galatians 5:19-22 and you have love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Like, all right. Those are things that I want to see extending for my kids. And that’s only what happens when we’re connected to Christ. Like you don’t get love, this idea of giving up your good for someone else from just trying harder. Like, trying harder makes me self-righteous that I get mad that you’re not doing a good job or that you didn’t receive the gift I gave you well enough. By my estimation. I’m angry now because look at what I’ve done on my strength and you should be able to do it too. Like we gett love because God’s gone, “No, I loved you first, now humbly go love that person who stinks at this.” And that person might be our kid. So I want to see that stuff extended for my kid. I can look at the fruit and say, “Hey, when you play this game, you look more like Jesus.” I want this game to be a part of your life. And I can see repeatedly where board games have done that. You can’t get overstimulated. They’re not losing sleep on it. Sure, they think about it, but they can’t just go pull it out for 5 minutes. Right? Like it takes time. “Hey, Dad, can we play this game?” “No.” “Okay.” Like, I’m not going to sneak a board game. Like, that’s not going to happen. So, like, they might be, like. “But could we do it later?” Like, maybe this is with the the new game. 

Justin [00:39:08] This is a common conversation. 

Nathan [00:39:09] This is a common conversation in our house. And yet, like they play and we get to see Owen’s focus. We get to see Henry’s laissez faire. We get to see Hadley wanting to be a part of it. But it happens at the pace of real life. And I think that is really cool when you talk about like, let’s talk about what is coming out of you when you do these things and then we skip parts of these games. I know I do like there are games that either we skip entirely where my sons of it said, “Hey, this game looks really cool.” I’m like, “It’s true. Like, I know we play a game that looks similar, but the heart of that game, the thing that game is celebrating is not good. And we’re not we’re not going to be part of it guys.” And so we play a Star Wars tabletop game, but we don’t play Dungeons and Dragons because Dungeons and Dragons pivots really quick. And while it’s mostly Tolkien-ien in in its foundation, it doesn’t stay there and it gets really quick into some pretty dark and gray areas that I’m like, man, I don’t want you guys to have to deal with anyway. Any of the lore that’s dark and sad or even in modern games, we’re like, we sold the game because the entire premise was driving other races to extinction. 

Justin [00:40:11] It sounds troubling. 

Nathan [00:40:13] Have you guys ever played Small World? I was like, It’s a fun game and it’s cartoony and I love, like the way it plays. And then I was like, Oh, but I’m teaching my seven and nine year old this game and like, Y”eah, the elves have to kill off all the half link’s.” Well, like, that’s the only premise of the game. And as a player, you want to send people into extinction early so that you can start another race and, like, get more points. Like, this isn’t like, not at this stage of life. There’s probably a day where they can do the jujitsu and it’s just a game and this and that. But not at seven and nine. At seven and nine these are real words. They’re processing and competitive ideas that they’re applying. And I don’t think they line up with who we stand for in Christ. So that game went away, right? And that is something I think when we talk about entering our kids into nerd culture that we need to be aware of too, that even just some of the rules and some of the premises and some of the things that celebrate. 

Justin [00:41:05] Needs building up that and building up that ability to have discernment. Right? And the discernment does not always mean I can play anything and I’m just so wise or… 

Nathan [00:41:16] Everything is permissible, but not everything is constructive. 

Justin [00:41:20] Yeah. So the discernment might be, “Hey, this looked interesting. We looked into it more and this one’s not for us.” Right? And being willing and able to say, no, we’re not going to have that in our house. We’re not going to do that. And, you know, preventing having to do, you know, crazy body twist, yoga or whatever, just to try to justify or explain away. Well, it’s actually fine because this… It’s like you literally are flipping it on its head with your kids and being like, oh, actually dad’s fine with doing all these terrible things, but he can just explain it away by look over there, you know? 

Nathan [00:41:57] Right. And our kids, by the way, are learning from that. Don’t fool yourselves. Like when we talk about this our kids watch. My boys ask me all the time like, “Dad, why is it okay in this situation that, like, violence is being used?” I’m like, “Yeah, thank you for asking. Because, like, we need to talk about is this an acceptable time?” There are some characters you won’t want to play. There’s some plots you won’t want to engage because they’re not worth it. They don’t speak truth and hope. And there might come a day where you want to said, okay, you’re playing as the bad guys for us. Like that’s this role we don’t want you to win. But like sometimes bad guys win battles and so like, all right, like we’re going to let that happen, but have those conversations and be honest. And sometimes it’s like the beginning of this conversation where they’ll ask me and I’m like, “Oh, I don’t know. Give me a second. I got to think about it.” And specifically when it comes anyway, comes out of some plot things, which brings me to, I think, our final point for today, which is time. And this as I’ve come to notice as an adult, as a believer in Christ, as a dad, that the concept of free time is basically a myth. That I read this idea that at 1 Corinthians, Paul says that our time is not our own. We’ve been bought with a price and he references it twice the first time saying, So you can’t go and like be part of these temple worship things that are pagan and awful and evil and directly sinful because you’ve been bought with a price and then later saying like, your time isn’t yours. Like as Christians, all of our time is borrowed. Now everyone’s time is borrowed. But as Christians, we’re acknowledging that. We’re saying, yeah, like I’m not my own. I’m not good enough to be my own God. It’s not, do good or believe in Jesus. Jesus says I am the way the truth in life. I’m the way anyone gets to God. You don’t get to be showing up in your name and be like, “I’m awesome. Let me in.” He’s like no you have to trust and believe and follow, have a new heart, be a new creation, and then act from that. So when we talk about time, we have to be humble with our times. All right. Some of this stuff is cool and it’s perfectly fine. It’s not morally wrong. How do you determine your time limits either for video games or for shows or for amusement? Like where do you determine how much time you can invest in something for your family, for your kids, for yourself? 

Justin [00:44:17] Yeah. Just like I said at the beginning. Right. It’s a good thing not just to, like, I know, come up with a family decision and then, like, that’s it forever. But something to periodically consider and be like, well, how do we do this? And hopefully it’s not just by feel. 

Nathan [00:44:33] Yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Justin [00:44:34] Stumbling around the dark. So yeah, I think a lot of it is just, you know, even in the day to day, it’s just communication with Nicole and kind of figuring out our plan for the day and our time together and what’s going on. And so I don’t know that we have any sort of hard and fast like limits. Oh, well, it will only be, you know, X times Y in a given week. But it’s more you know, the emphasis is on time together as a family when we’re home or engaging with others. You know, we have, you know, people that we’re hosting over or, you know, investing in in our community or whatnot. So a lot of it is just more like kind of like you said before, and you have that progression of it starts with, you know, being a follower of Jesus and then investing in family and then in community and things like that, right? 

Nathan [00:45:22] And then we win championships as a family.

Justin [00:45:26] Yeah. Yeah, definitely what I was referencing. So then it’s like if there’s time after those things, you know, like I said with the daily question from my youngest is usually like…”Can we play a board game today dad?” It’s like, remember how you asked me that 2 minutes ago and I said, “It’s not happening today?” “Oh yeah.” 

Nathan [00:45:44] I’ll be back in 3 minutes to ask again. 

Justin [00:45:46] Right. That’s where a lot of times the answer is, well, let’s you know, let’s figure it out as a family or let’s just talk with mom about kind of what’s going on and what we have. So, you know, again, it’s less like a you know, for us, like a rigid we follow this path, but it’s more like, you know, we have a process or a way of talking about, okay, and do we have some time for this? Great or not? It’s going to be too tight or cause all this undue anxiety or stress if we try to squeeze in this thing here before we go to this or whatnot. So I feel like on any given day, there’s a lot of it is just having that conversation with Nicole about, you know, is this a good time or not or never having it because it’s so obviously, you know, we don’t have time or capacity to do that today. So, yeah, I mean, if they could every day we’d spend an hour sitting around this, you know, fun board game set up we have in my office and go through that. But in reality, it’s probably like twice a week or three times a week at most, right? Just because we don’t orient our day around are leisure time, I guess. Right? That’s that’s probably not the norm, right? It’s certainly not the norm for most of my life as as an American, where I have freedom and the Constitution tells me I can just do anything I want whenever I want. 

Nathan [00:47:11] It’s under there. 

Justin [00:47:13] That’s my interpretation. Again, it’s kind of flipped on its head and it’s like with what remains in a day, what might we do? As opposed to, Oh, I’m blocking off all this time. It’s in the calendar. 8 hours of fun fun, fun, nonstop. You know, a little bit of a tangent, but it just reminds me of I was explaining my kids recently, this concept I had growing up. Even sometimes in my mind, I think this the idea of like watching a trilogy in one day. We’re going to watch… 

Nathan [00:47:49] It’s going to be the birthday thing, right? It’s going to happen. 

Justin [00:47:51] Yes. And this idea that like that somehow is life giving or like epic or amazing. And then I can think of any time I did that and it growing up and by the second movie, you’re like, wait, why do I feel like a total slug?

Nathan [00:48:08] I couldn’t care any less right now.

Justin [00:48:10] And it’s like. But then you get to like…We said we’re going to the trilogy. You get to that. We’re like, put it on. And you’re just like, I just picturing myself, you know, gut out popcorn all over yourself. In your mind is like, “Oh, what a great idea.” But in reality, it’s just like dehumanizing. To me, that’s like the picture of just dedicating your life and time to just endless entertainment or whatever your whim says you should do, right? That’s you end up, you know, on the couch with your gut hanging out. 

Nathan [00:48:43] Yeah. Yeah. You, you end up looking more like some kind of Spider-Man villain than a human. 

Justin [00:48:48] You look more like the couch. So to me, it’s the value instead is turning that around and being instead of how do we clear the day so that all we do is fun and instead it’s like we have certain obligations, we have certain responsibilities, we have things that we’re just called to as believers. And with what remains, if it works out great to do something else or something that’s just for fun, but not that’s not what we form our life and our day around. 

Nathan [00:49:19] Yeah, I love that and I love the idea of priorities. Like, I think that’s so healthy and I love the idea of having the conversation with our with our families of like, hey, this fun that we have still needs to push in the same direction as all the other things we do. Like, it’s not like, well, I have fun or I have work for 23 hours and then one hour I actually get to enjoy life like, no, like God designed you for like good work and good work Ephesians 2:10 says. But like, He designed you to to be amazed at Him. Like, that’s why we get our kids outside. This is why our kids play sports. Like we see these little things in their brains clicking like, I don’t even know I could do that. I don’t even know this was an option. Like, Oh, I just grew and learned something and it took hard work. But like, I got the reward of seeing it done well. They get to experience these moments of amazement and then when we get to have fun this discretionary time. I want it to support that. I don’t want it to usurp it and go, Sure, you get through all this, but the real stuff’s over here. Like in my mind, like this is why we don’t support the public use of cocaine in America. Like Sigmund Freud did a whole study on uber coca and the benefits of cocaine and how, like, look at how long I can stay awake and look at how much I can remember and look at how sharp it makes my mind. And then spent the next ten plus years trying to wean himself off it. But yeah, if cocaine wasn’t addictive, it would be incredible. It’d be awesome for people. But it is. So we settle for caffeine because while the perk is less, the downside is less. Like there’s a reason that’s allowed in Coca-Cola, when they made them take cocaine out of it. And for my kids, I’m like, Yeah, of course you could have a lot of fun going over there and do that stuff, but the downsides aren’t worth it. Like, your purpose in Christ is too great. Like, so we’re going to have something that is fun, but it still supports your purpose in Christ. Like play this game. It’s a lot of fun. It takes work. Sure, we can’t play it all at once. There’s some days we won’t be able to play it at all because you can’t just slap the cartridge in and turn it on and play for 10 minutes. Like I get it. It’s inconvenient and that’s kind of the point. This isn’t the peak of the mountain. Like, as I love the saying of like as Christians, this is as bad as it gets and this life is not intended for us to live for our joy. It’s to live for our purpose, which is to glorify God and to get joy from that. And so I want to and I heard you saying the same thing, like I want my kids to see that and to be able to sense that even more than just see it, even when they don’t know, like when they’re looking at their work, when they’re looking at who they date, when they’re looking at their sports, when they’re looking at whatever they do for fun. Like I want that to be in their head as they are prayerfully learning to trust and follow Jesus on their own. So and that includes in their gaming and their other activities as well. So thanks for making time today to talk about being parents in a digital age and nerd-dom. Any closing thoughts for us that I may have forgotten to ask? 

Justin [00:52:09] I don’t think so other than I just the last thing you were saying, I just had an image of when I had my first job, I was working at Albertson’s as a courtesy clerk, a.k.a. Bag Boy. And yeah, I mean, just how flipped I had that whole idea of, “Nope, I just am here to have fun, right?” And the fact that I have to work, it was just misery, right? And my sister and my dad could tell you like I would just like mope around the house if I had to work on a day. It was the thought of how detrimental it was to just being able to do whatever I wanted was just unbelievable. Right? And it was just it made all of life miserable because I was just thinking, No, I’m just here to have fun. I’m just here to do my every whim. 

Nathan [00:52:55] And work gets in my way. 

Justin [00:52:56] Yeah, exactly. And, you know, the result was everything was so much worse. When when our priorities are askew and when we even if they just start off just a tiny bit divergent from what we know to be true from Scripture and from the life of Jesus. It maybe just starts us a little bit off. And then before you know it, it’s like I can’t be bothered to get up. I have to work in 8 hours, so I’m just going to lay for 8 hours to make it go slower. 

Nathan [00:53:25] Yeah, that’s a real thing. Yes. And trying to just maximize that time instead of recognizing like you could be used on that job. And there’s people there that need to hear Jesus and meet Him in action and like all that. That’s awesome. Thanks, man. Well, thanks for being here. Thanks for talking. And parents, I hope this was encouraging and helpful for you. I hope that you will join us and future conversations, share it with others and then come back next week as we continue this conversation about how we can love God and use tech. 

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