If you are a parent and your kids play or want you to buy them video games, keep reading! Today’s post is about how parents view video games, how video games are rated and how you can help stop violence inspired by video games by following some simple tips and perhaps save lives.
Video games are considered art. The game designers do their best to make each scene as real as possible and see themselves as artists. You can watch this to understand how this artistic work can be disturbing and potentially dangerous.
Please make sure there are no children around when you watch this video, because it is extremely violent. If you are sensitive to vicious brutality and blood, you may want to skip the video altogether.
While Tsoof was doing his assignment on video game violence, I was shocked with the level of violence the kids were exposed to and it really got me scared. By the end of it, he also showed me some statistics about parents and that got me even more scared.
Parents and video games
Here is a list of figures from a US research into parents’ involvement and attitude towards playing video games:
- 50% of parents play computer and video games with their children
- 93% of computer and video games are purchased or rented while the parents are present
- 88% of games are purchased by adults
- 72% of parents believe video games are “fun for the entire family”
- 71% of parents are asked to play by their kids
- 66% of parents believe computer and video games provide good opportunities for them to socialize with their kids
- 63% of parents believe computer games are a positive part of their kids’ life
- 50% of parents claim that playing computer and video games with their children provides good opportunities to monitor the game content
- 10% of parents never check the official rating of the computer and video games their kids use
Now, I ask you, would you not feel like there must be someone to blame? Do not feel devastated after reading these figures?
Did you know when reading such things, people use a defense mechanism that says “It won’t happen to me”. I did the same. I said to myself, “I’m OK. My kids are not exposed to video games. We have never purchased any computer game in our life. We don’t have a game console at home”. But this mechanism only gives us a false illusion that we are safe, because we are not.
If your kids have computer games and they have some form of violent in them, if they earn points for hurting someone or something, if their games have several lives, if they spend hours playing their games, if you help them purchase the game, if you feel aggressive when your kids disturb you when you are on the computer, if you feel your kids are aggressive, especially when you ask them to get off the computer, if you think the games are good for your kids or that you could never take them away, you kids are impacted. Just like mine are. Because they live in a society that is exposed to violent movies, TV and video games. Because most of their friends are. Because most of the people at work are. Because when they watch TV, they are bombarded with “You must have this video game or you are a looser” messages (like the new ad for iPhone, “Well, you just don’t have an iPhone”). It is not enough to make your kids read books, see friends, have dinners together, do their homework, go dancing, play music, do sport or take part in helping around the house. It is not enough anymore, because as soon as they leave home, they go into a world where most people spend hours, heaps of money and a lot of energy on computer and video games.
How long do you think they can stay different?
From Blame to Responsibly
I think parents are not to be blamed for allowing violence into their kids’ lives, but they are responsible. They hold the power to change the situation and they can only be blamed for not using this power properly.
Growing up in a home that promotes other stimulation, Tsoof told his 10-year-old sister Noff recently that she should turn off the TV when he saw the cartoons were violent. While before the assignment, he would not have watched this because he had no time, I think that after doing this assignment, he understands why we do not let those things into our home and has more respect and appreciation for us.
I remember when Tsoof was about 10 years old himself, he went to play at a friend’s house and all he did there was play X-box. He came home and asked for an X-box. Gal and I said that we preferred him to play with a ball, read and do other things, rather than numb his brain with video games. He protested and said that every child in the world has an X-box. We asked him if all the kids in the world travelled as much as he did around the world, if all the kids in the world loved their sisters as much as he did, if all the kids in the world were as smart and talented as he was and … he gave up really quickly.
A couple of weeks after he finished his drama assignment, we heard Noff asking for one of those Nintendo games after going to a sleepover, where all the girls had a game. We did not even have a chance to reply and Tsoof hugged her and said, “Noff, remember my assignment? Those games are not good for your brain. They make you aggro [Aussie slang for aggressive]. You are a wonderful girl, because you don’t waste time on those things. You don’t really need that. Eden and I never had video games and that’s why we do so well”. Since she admires her two older siblings, she has not asked again.
Tips for parents
- You are not helpless and your kids’ health and wellbeing is your responsibility. Make sure your kids play video games where you can see. Put video games in a central place in your home to ensure you are aware of what the kids are playing.
- Do not buy everything they want. If you disagree with a purchase, say “No” and make sure they understand that you are the responsible person in the family. If your kids have their own money, you can still say “no”.
- If the games are not at home, kids may play the games when they go to friends, but it is not the same as having them at home. It is quite simple to make a difference. Just don’t buy any video games.
- Walk the talk. If you play video games, it is hard to say to kids “it’s good for me but not good for you”, even if it is true sometimes. Avoid playing violent games yourself.
- If you see aggressive behavior in your child, ban video games and limit his/her exposure to violence in movies and on TV.
- Do not allow any games where killing or hurting someone else is involved.
- Do not allow games where people are rewarded for acts of violence, even if the characters being hurt are animated.
- Do not allow games with sexual references and portraying women as sexual objects or prostitutes. If you have a girl, you do not want her to identify with the women in this game. If you have a boy, you do not ever want him to think like that about women.
- Do not allow games with bad language. If bad language is not appropriate in real life, it is not appropriate in a video game.
- Google the games and reviews before purchasing a game. If you spend enough time, you will learn a lot about the game before bringing home a destructive, brainwashing game that will distort your child’s perception of life.
- Check the official rating of every game you buy or rent. I have included a rating list at the end of the post for your reference.
- Rent games before you buy and play yourself before giving them to your child.
- Limit video game times. Video games are as addictive as staying in front of the computer. Make sure kids have a limit – they will not stop themselves.
- Limit Internet time. Kids can play some games online. There are many programs that can be block sites and/or the Internet on their computer.
- Do not fall into the “the whole world” trap. It might be a good idea to tell your kids about the half of the world that has no food, let alone game consoles. Show them this video and let’s see how many times they will use “the whole world” trick on you.
- If you have a feeling your kids are missing out, remember that happiness is not measured by how many gadgets and games your parents allowed you to play but by the number of friends you make.
- Do not be anti games for the sake of it. There are wonderful games that help with fine motor skills, develop hand-eye coordination and promote curiosity and social interaction. Find these games and substitute the violent games with games that encourage learning, kindness and friendship. A friend of ours brought her X-box to sing Karaoke together. It was awesome fun! Think of your kids as babies – you cannot pull a dangerous toy away from them by force. It is better to give them something safe instead.
- Fill up your kids’ schedule with friends, playing music, playing sport, doing art, cooking at home, going to the library, reading books, listening to music or engaging in any other hobby and they will have no time for video games (this one works best for me).
- To prevent embarrassment, when your kids go to a sleepover, tell the hosting parent you do not allow your kids to play violent video games. The host will not take a risk and offer the kids other things to do.
- Talk to other parents and learn from them about video games. It will save you some of the research and share with other parents your findings.
- If you find a game with a rating that you think is inappropriate – complain!
Parents at my workshops and friends keep telling me, “Ronit, you don’t know what you’re talking about. We just can’t take the games away from our kids”. I believe them. They really cannot. It is hard when the kids are already addicted and cannot imagine life without their favorite game. I was lucky I never reached an addiction stage, so the whole process was much easier to me.
Parents probably do what they do – buying, allowing or closing their eyes to the video games their kids play – because they do not feel they have the power to change things, but they do!
To stand strong and express your values requires courage and parents needs to be courageous to stand firm for what they believe is right. If half of the world is doing something wrong, that does not make it right. Teach that lesson to your kids. One day, when their drama teacher gives them an assignment and they choose to do it on video games and violence, they will thank you for it.
We, parents, have lots of power. We can make our kids’ life better and we have to do it together. If I raise kids who think computer games are low level stimulation and numb your brain and senses and you raise kids who think they are not different but better and another person raises kids who think the world around them is addicted and they think more clearly because they are not exposed to this drug, and another person raises kids who think their social status has nothing to do with how many gadgets they own or how many people they have killed in a virtual game and another person raises kids who think they have better things to do with their life than sit in front of a screen and play games then together, we can make sure our kids meet each other and form a better world.
I think I need to send Tsoof’s drama teacher a thank-you letter.
Wise and clear parenting,
Entertainment software ratings
Computer games and video games are rated to allow parents to make informed buying decisions and advise their kids wisely. Here are the ratings used and what they mean:
- EC – Early Childhood. May be suitable for ages 3 and up. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate.
- E – Everyone. May be suitable for ages 6 and up. May contain minimal violence, some comic mischief and/or mild language.
- E10+ – Everyone 10 and older. May be suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
- T – Teen. May be suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violent content, mild or strong language and/or suggestive themes.
- M – Mature. May be suitable for persons aged 17 and up. May contain mature sexual themes, more intense violence and/or strong language.
- AO – Adults Only. Suitable only for adults. May include graphic depictions of sex and/or violence. Adult Only products are not intended for persons under the age of 18.
- RP – Rating Pending. Titles have been submitted and are awaiting final rating.