Sunday, 6 November 2016

Children and Video Games

Let's talk about the relationship between video games and children shall we?  This is a topic that tends to fill me full of large amounts of rage because every so often an article is brought to my attention about how games are terrible and are "corrupting the youth" and all that shit.  More often than not these articles have two main points which are either games and too violent for kids OR that kids are playing games too much and they have some kind of addiction.  Well let's address those two points.

1) Violence

There is a large portion of gaming which you could quite easily consider violent and there's probably a portion of those violent games that you wouldn't want a child to see.  Take the above picture for example which is a scene from Dead Space 2 where failure results in the hero taking a large metal tube through the face via his eye socket, that's something that maybe you wouldn't want a young child to see.

However, not all violence in video games in made equal.  Take something like Street Fighter for example, it's violent sure but not overly so to the point where a younger audience should be banned from viewing or playing it.  You can't just make a blanket statement that all games are too violent for kids and just ban them from everything, it depends on the game and it also depends very much on the child.  When I was a young lad I was playing Doom on the Sega Saturn, a game FAMOUS for it's high violence levels but now I'm 26 and I've still never shoved a chainsaw through a persons abdomen.

The problem is that people look at a game with it's guns or fighting or whatever and without knowing anything about the games actual content start ragging on it as "unsafe" for a younger audience.  Let's take something like Left4Dead, you can look at that and go "oh well it's full of guns, zombies and death there's no way that it's an appropriate game for kids".  Well I'd argue that Left4Dead is all about team work, resource management and group planning which are skills that would be quite beneficial to pick up at a young age, no?

All games nowadays also have age ratings and guidelines to tell you what sort of audience it's appropriate for and even a vague overview of what some of the themes might be in that title.

 With these clearly labelled on the box you have no fucking excuse.  This is a decent guideline for a parent to get a good idea of what they are buying for their children.  So if they know and trust their child can handle certain themes then maybe they could turn a blind eye to the age guideline and buy a certain title.  However if your child is begging for something like GTA, you ignore the guidelines and then get all shocked when there's guns, sex and gambling in it then you have only yourself to blame.

That's ultimately what it comes down to, the parenting.  If you're raising your kids right, guiding them through every aspect of their lives and helping them grow then there won't be much of a problem even if they do end up seeing or experiencing something a little over their head.  However if you're the kind of shit parent who buys your kid Mortal Kombat and then let them plop in front of it as a distraction so that you can take 5 then don't go acting all surprised when little Jimmy gets set home from school for trying to gouge a kids eyes out with his thumbs.  That's not MKs fault, that's YOUR fault for not helping your kid understand the basics of fantasy and reality, it's not like the box or download page didn't warn you.

2) Addiction

Video game addiction is another stupid topic written by people who usually have no fucking clue but let's just address video game addiction in kids.  It kind of goes hand in hand with what I said in the last paragraph where it all ultimately comes down to the parenting.

Kids are sort of stupid but it's stupid due to a lack of life experience rather than just being uneducated.  You put a kid in front of a video game and they start playing it and having a good time then OF COURSE they are going to want to do just that for the rest of time.  I work with kids and I've been in situations where I'll be playing a classroom game which involves nothing more than a ball and a box and sometimes the younger kids would be more than happy just to play that one thing all fucking day so imagine how intense playing something like a video game must be.  You tell a kid that they have to do their homework or something and of course they are going to be upset when the alternative to crushing boredom is video game fun.

That's why the parents role here is very important.  When I was a child I didn't have any sort of time limits placed on me like the whole "2 hours a day" which is what I've seen some websites argue.  For my parents it was all about helping me understand priorities.  Sure, I didn't WANT to do my homework but if I didn't do it then I'd get in trouble which may lead to detention which may lead to a greater deficit of gaming time so I knew that if I wanted to enjoy myself then I had to get the important shit done first.  "Business before pleasure" is what my mother always used to say and if your kid isn't getting their priorities straight then that's on you as a parent for not teaching that to them.

But you could argue that even if they do get all their important shit done and the ONLY thing they are doing is video games then that's just as bad.  Well once again that's also a parenting issue because like I said before, kids are dumb, they don't know where to go looking for things that pique their interest, they are completely reliant on you as a parent for that.  Sure, video games were my main thing growing up and even now but my parents were constantly poking me with suggestions for other things to do.  All sorts of suggestions, most of which didn't take till later and some didn't take at all but the point is they were TRYING.  While you as a parent shouldn't rely on games for this it can happen where the content of a game may inspire some kind of other interest.  For example the initial reason for me wanting to learn Japanese was because my dad bought me a copy of Panzer Dragoon Saga and I was exposed to this other language that I thought was cool and now I can speak Japanese, live in Japan and have a nice job.  Like I said before, you can't just slam them in front of the TV and expect that stupid box to do all the work.


The bottom line is that it comes down to parenting.  If you're a good parent who can teach your kid to live like a normal human being then they will turn out OK.  Even if they aren't massively successful in later life, but at least as people they will be OK which means they probably won't be completely fucked even if they do grow up to be lazy or whatever.

Any parent who blames ANY medium be it games, movies, books or TV for some kind of adverse effect on their kid is essentially admitting they have failed as parents.  If your kid is violent it's YOUR fault for not properly teaching them how to respect other people.  If your kid is "addicted" to gaming then it's YOUR fault for not teaching them how to have a sense of self control and understand moderation and trying to scapegoat just shows how irresponsible and how unready you were to have that child.  Don't rag on my hobby because YOU suck at life.

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