Game with your Kids

Game with your Kids

By: LB Chambers

With the release of Grand Theft Auto V  the old tried and true concern about children and teens playing video games has risen to the surface again.

Between Elizabeth Hassleback questioning video game safety on Fox and Friends (instead of questioning a shooter on a naval base was able to do so much damage- I mean really, if the conservative answer to a bad guy gta_5_grand_theft_auto_v_2with a gun is a good guy with a gun, wouldn’t a naval base be the best place to test this theory?) and stories of underage children throwing hissy fits in GameStops around the country when they aren’t given their copy of a game rated Mature, everyone is up in arms again.

I mean, won’t someone think of the children and teens? How on earth is a parent supposed to be able to raise a child with good moral values when their video games are teaching them to murder prostitutes and take their money?

I think I may have stumbled upon the answer today- maybe try and play these games with your kids! Or play the game first, discern if it is healthy for your child, and then go with that.

It’s so simple! If parents actually played the games they bought for their children with their children, there wouldn’t be any confusion over what that child is learning!

Think about it this way; would any parent let their ten year old watch The Godfather (Parts I and II), Scarface, The Heist, Pulp Fiction, and every other crime based rated R film back-to-back alone and without any adult supervision?

Probably not? Right?

Then why would any parent allow their child to play a 60+ hour long game based on criminal activitiy (and for those who claim they didn’t know- theft is in the title of Grand Theft Auto V, so no excuses) without any parental interference or framing?

I’ve just got to say it…

Like it or not parents, video games are here to stay. And whether or not you “get” or “enjoy” them, your children and teens clearly do (of if they don’t yet they probably will). Giving into your kids’ cries for whatever video game they want isn’t just bad parenting, it’s letting an opportunity to get to know your child go to waste.

Because not all games are bad.

Actually, a lot are really good.

Studies even show that kids who play video games have better cognitive skills, as well as problem solving skills and motor functions.

And while it’s still a common misconception that all video games cause violent behavior, a 2013 study that can be found in the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma reported studied the external influences on violence (video games included) and found that there was no association between media use and “adult criminality.”

Video games aren’t inherently bad for children (or people for that matter), just as any form of media isn’t inherently bad for children- it’s what you choose to let them experience on their own and without any context that causes problems. In this Kotaku link you’ll find dozens of studies, all finding one way or another that unsupervised violent game time isn’t good for any young person, but that games in general cause no harm.

Of course, the studies listed here are all finding “correlation” and not “causation,” so take it all with a  grain of salt.

It’s when a child is allowed to play a violent game not intended for their age or maturity level that you wind up with violent, aggressive and anti-social behavior.

And watching your children play a video game can give you so much perspective into who they really are!

My niece, a mid-teen, has been playing older video games for years; she’s also been pulling further and further away from her mother, my sister. At my insistence, my sister took a few hours out of her day and sat with her daughter, watching her play Dragon Age: Origins: asking questions about her character, the story, and what my niece liked about the game.

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Dragon Age: Origins

My sister was blown away. She had no idea how epic these games were. She was impressed by her daughter’s dedication to always helping others within the game, being honest, and choosing the honorable path. A few days later they began a character together, and while they are still a teenager daughter-mother relationship (with it’s bumps and curves) they now have an adventure they share.

But this sort of experience isn’t a one-hit wonder. I’ve heard of, and experienced, several families brought together by video games. For example, my Dad and I don’t see eye-to-eye on practically anything, but we will go back and forth on Missile Command for hours; cheering each other on and good heartedly battling for that high score. Games are how we connect and show we still love one another, no matter how different our lives or perspectives may be.

But it isn’t so much the games themselves, it is the act of a parent taking an active interest in something their child loves, without a personal agenda

Articles like this one…..don’t even touch on the idea that a parent should express interest in their child’s game. Which is terrible.

Treat games like they are taboo, and they will be. Your child won’t respond to your dislike of their beloved hobby by avoiding it altogether, when has that ever worked? And how will allowing children to play video games (without any interest in what they are actually playing) and then practically freaking out about it when they are teens (as the article suggests) help anthing?

There has been a lot of finger pointing and eyebrow raising at the fact that a lot of violent shootings in the last several years have been commited by young men who (shocking!) played video games.

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But when the countries with the highest number of video game sales are examined, it’s discovered that there is no correlation between video game consumption and gun violence.

In fact, in this study the United States is shown to be the outlier; for while other countries far outspend the US when it comes to video games, the US absolutely dominated in gun related violence (we’re number #1?)

So instead of blaming video games, I suggest we blame the perspective parent’s are told to have on video games, that they are detrimental and dangerous.

Instead let’s all look at video games as what they are; games.

Which means some games are more mature than others and demand a more mature audience, but some are great for any age. As an adult it’s the parents job to determine whether little Billy should be playing Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity, right? Let’s expect the same level of competency for all game judgements, regardless of media type (video, card, board, computer, social, etc.)

Because what do games do when they are played well and by the right audience?

Provide enjoying challenges that bring people closer together.

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In fact, I recommend we create a, “Play A Game With Your Kid Day.” It wouldn’t need to be a video game (although if your child loves video games, give that a try)- just any game. Because in reality games are just opportunities to get to know and spend time with the ones we like, or love, or want to know better.

So, if someone could tell me how I get started on naming a day, that would be great.

lindsaybelle@haveyounerd.com

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