Video Games and Parental Responsibility
...from my personal blog.
I’m a gamer.
I do not feel guilty about it, nor do I think it’s childish. I was first introduced to video games by my mother and father when I was about 4 or 5 years old (i think). They bought me a ColecoVision console along with Frogger, Q-Bert, Mr Do! as well as many other wonderful games. Over the years I’ve upgraded my weapon of choice many time as game systems became more intelligent. Today I own an Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, and a Playstation 2. I probably play at least 8 - 10 hours / week. Yes I know I could be reading an interesting novel, watching television or god forbid, clean my disheveled room, but you know what, sometimes I just want to shoot terrorists.
Playing violent video games does not make me an immature evil deviant, however it gives me a chance to unwind after a stressful day at the office. I’m pretty sure that allowing myself to channel my stress and rage into killing fictional anonymous bad guys keeps me quite sane. Last year my mother asked me if I will ever grow out of playing video games, and without thinking, I responded a firm “no”. Yes I am 28 and I still play video games.
The truth is that the target market for video games is not 10 - 18 anymore as it was in the 80’s with the ColecoVision and Atari consoles. The explosion of the interactive entertainment industry (which took in $7.4 Billion in North America in 2006) is evident of fact that more and more people are buying video games at faster rate. Why is this? Simple, children aren’t the ones making the purchases anymore. It’s us gamer nerds who are all growed up and now have a steady income to afford this entertainment.
Having said that, please note that video games aren’t JUST for children anymore. I am making this point because time and time again I hear a concerned parent discussing how “video games are the root of all evil”. Yes there are violent games, yes there are sexually explicit games, yes there is cursing in video games. These R rated or “M for mature” rated games are not to be sold to minors. There are many strict laws in certain states preventing Walmart and EB Games from selling “such filth” to minors. I agree with keeping these types out of the hands of 12 year old kids just as I wouldn’t want my 12 year old watching any film starring Ron Jeremy.
We must remember though, some children are sneaky, some children have parents who spoil them, some have parents who don’t care about what games their kids play. Kids will get to play some of these mature games whether parents care or not. But to all parents out there that have gamer children, please take the time to play video games with your kids. If something explicit comes up in the game, explain to them that it is just a video game just as you would explain that Astroboy is not real and that children are not robots that can fly.