Video Games and Kids?

Morgan - posted on 12/05/2011 ( 34 moms have responded )

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Recently, my husband and I got into it because he has a friend whose G/F lets her 4-5 year old son play call of duty an hour every school night IF he does all his homework and chores first. She claims that it makes him do it so it's perfectly normal. Her 13 year old also plays the game quite frequently. He believes it's perfectly okay and wants to do it with our son. I believe that someone should slap her and take her son's game away. (kidding!)

After that, I got on here and saw a ton of posts about allowing kids to play grand theft auto, call of duty, and others that are heavy in violence. Young kids too, ages from 2-9. I don't think that's ok. To me, there's no reason why a child, especially a young one, should be purposely exposed to that level of violence.

What do you think and why?

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Tam - posted on 12/05/2011

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Elfrieda, I think your comment might be a bit hasty, but your right as a mom, I suppose. But perhaps I can clarify the other views, as a gamer myself.

I play a wide variety of games, many of which are rated mature. Depending on the game and my feelings toward it, I may or may not let my children observe it.

There is a game called Dragon Age, for instance, that has a deep storyline and some swearing. Parts of it, if the player chooses, can be considered sexually explicit, but those parts are completely avoidable. This is a sword and sorcery sort of game with high fantasy. Dragons, elves, and whatnot. My children love watching the portions I allow them to see, like the part where the main character slays the evil dragon that is threatening the country. Stuff like that is okay. Yet certain parts of the game I will not proceed with until after bedtime.

Another game that is rated mature that sees a lot of use in my home is the Mass Effect series. A good way to describe it is a more gritty sort of Star Trek. Futuristic, space, aliens, and yes, there are guns. There is swearing in this game, so I try to limit their exposure. I take the game as an opportunity to explore my son's fascination with space, as there are fantastic visuals of planets and solar systems. It's started discourse on how the characters look wildly different, yet manage to work together towards a common goal despite their crazy backgrounds.

In the current game in the series, most of the 'bad guys' are robotic and buglike creatures. There's not too much in the way of blood and the settings allow for it to be toned down.

But these are the games that I play, not my kids. There are some games I will not have on while my children are awake, such as an old, foul-mouthed classic called Konker's Bad Fur Day - it has a cartoony atmosphere and foul language, offensive behavior by the main characters, and some pretty crude humor. It is also MA rated, like the two listed above, but far, far less acceptable in any sense of the word.

My children do have games I allow them to play as a treat, however. One of their favorites is a Kinect game called Kinectimals, where you take care of a virtual large feline. There's the Legos series for the WII, and for some reason, they have an intense fascination of Minecraft, which is basically virtual Legos.

As for the original post, I actually do think that a game like CoD is a bit much for a child that young. There are themes in that game that many children would not be able to grasp, especially if the person supervising them does not have the capacity to explain things. The games I play, and admittedly allow my children to see, contain fantasy violence that is far, far less realistic than something that you find in GTO, CoD, or Black Ops.

I view games in much the same way as I view other media. Everything has to be based on you, your family, the norms you ascribe to, and what you know your child to be capable of experiencing without feeling threatened.

My children follow in the same footsteps as I did, so far. Very active imaginations and an acute obsession with stories no matter what form they come, be it literature, television, stage, oral tales, tabletop, and yes, video games. However, I am extremely involved in this window to the world and I can monitor it closely.

For the record - I have been an avid gamer since before I was eight and my parents never regulated what I had access to. I played Duke Nukem (the original one, yikes) before I was a decade old. I had done tournament style fighters, first person shooter, role playing games, online games, sandbox games, the list goes on and on. I have never committed any crime (aside from speeding a little on the highway), I'm not a degenerate, and I never even used a swear word until I had enlisted at 18. I have never been promiscuous and the first time I fired a gun was when I was 25 and under the supervision of a qualified expert marksman. In fact, my hand-eye coordination was fantastic, according to my qualifier.

Sorry to digress. My children, however, do not get unlimited access to games and they only play while under supervision (especially with the WII and my nice TV. That remote goes flying ONCE...). But the thing is, if you look back into the advent of any popular leisure activity in the home, it was met initially with much the same reaction that video games are receiving today. So many books were burned, both years back and within the last century simply because people disagreed with ideals. People used to think the radio would make people lazy. With TV, it was thought that it would corrupt the mind and make all people indolent savages with no sense of identity. And now it is video games.

I don't believe that any well-adjusted, normal child would be swayed into terrible acts by a game if their very foundation contradicted that message. But as with everything, balance is key. No young child should sit in front of a game for hours each day, just as they should not sit in front of a TV watching cartoons for all of their time. Certain things must be kept away from those who are not equipped to handle it via maturity level.

But let us not vilify and entire industry based upon one of two offerings from within it. That is much like refusing to read any book, ever, because Hitler wrote Mein Kampf.

I hope this was coherent and on topic. I'm suffering from pregnant brain syndrome right now. :)

Jodi - posted on 12/05/2011

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Um, nope. My 14 year old has only just started to be allowed to play those games. Really? A 4-5 year old playing Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto? No way, that's just wrong. I don't care how you look at it, I will judge you for it.

Elfrieda - posted on 12/06/2011

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I stand by my comment. (but please note I wasn't talking about every video game, I was addressing the original post) Kids are trying to find a way to see the world. They don't come ready-made, with adult filters, they grow those filters.
Either we shape that worldview intentionally, or we let our culture do it for us. I think letting the culture do it for us is bad parenting.

Tam - posted on 12/06/2011

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Niki,

I love your stance on this, as well as the focus on a deeper issue. You reminded me of what happened just last night with my son. I was watching Dirty Jobs, and in that episode the guy went to work with a mobile butcher. They took the viewer through the steps of slaughtering a cow to butchering it for the meat. I asked my son if he really wanted to watch it, and he said that he did. At every new juncture, I asked if he still wanted to see what happened next. Every time, he said yes.

And to be honest, I wish my folks had been a bit more proactive with exposure to things related to life with me. I didn't really even know the mechanics of sex until I was around 13. I just knew that 'good kids don't do that sort of thing'. And I found out about it from a friend of mine who was already sexually active by that age. I ended up waiting til my late teens, but imagine what sort of damage that knowledge might have had without the guidance of someone more mature to help with context?

And I think, in a way, that it applies to the original post in question. I would rather my children gain knowledge from me and people I trust, rather than their friends who may or may not have had the opportunity to have things put in perspective. I'd rather my kids see a game, regardless of what it is, and be able to come to me for answers on their questions rather than find it on their own and take it at face value. My kids know the difference between real and pretend, but they are just getting to the point where they can understand abstracts, like the deeper themes found in a lot of media. They don't really know much about racism yet, or depression. A lot of times they turn and ask me questions that I think are simple to understand, like why Mother Gothel got so mad at Rapunzel for leaving the tower for a couple days. Or why there's both an animal called chicken, as well as a food called chicken, and why some food has bones in it.

[deleted account]

"can only assume that the parents who think it's fine are the same parents who think it's funny when their kids swear or wear little hotpants and highheels. They just have no idea about protecting young minds. Yes, I'm Ms Judge-y over here."

Sorry, you're totally wrong. I recognize video games are not real. What you're describing is behaviors in the real world. Not comparable.

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[deleted account]

I think there is a big difference between a 2, 3 and 4 YO and an 8 YO, so I don't think you can lump them into the same group. My kids are almost 4 and they don't play any games. It's not necessary and I don't see it as being helpful to their development. I don't see us introducing games for at least a few years.

September - posted on 12/06/2011

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I don't think young children should play video games at all much less the one's you mention. We don't plan on introducing video games to our 3 year old for a long time! Our son has not a clue what a video game is.

Loreana - posted on 12/06/2011

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I let my 7 year old play COD and my 4 year old play toy story. NOT grang theft auto! my reasoning behind this is that my shildren are going to grow up in an age where electronics/technology is taking huge leaps and bounds, literally the world I grew u in is not the world my kids are going to grow up with and allowing them when they have earned it! to play games is a very necessary skill and if you watch the level of concentration and skill required to play some of the games is a delight. my kids take great pride in passing levels and overcoming obstacals and I encourage there enjoyment of certain games. As for call of duty, I had a hard time allowing my son to play that game, the violence and language are not appropriate at all and I worry that he will think it is acceptable for people to shoot other people. however I allow him to play it on the basis that we talked about the aspects that are unrealistic and unacceptable and the 1st time I hear him use any bad language his xbox will be gone! and I meant that. Grand theft auto has prostitution, abuse of the homeless, horrible language, theft, not one peice of it is accaptable for me as a human being let alone a child. and so is letting children or even young teens on online play, the are giving access to child-abusers to young children who obviously dont have a good parental influence to protect them and the things teens or adults say online are even worse than anything on grand theft auto.

Sherri - posted on 12/06/2011

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Sadly I only have a very small home and they would never be able to play since their brother is always around too. So my best to keep him shielded, just wasn't good enough.

My plan is to get him some more age appropriate games for Christmas and the bad games will suddenly just disappear hopefully never to be seen from again.

Jodi - posted on 12/06/2011

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See, my teenagers are banned from playing that stuff if their younger sister is around. They still get opportunities, and probably not as many as they would like, but she is particularly sensitive to violence (she will have nightmares about that stuff), so yes, the boys can play these games, but they have rules and restrictions. They break them, they lost the privilege of the game consoles.

Sherri - posted on 12/06/2011

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Well honestly my intention was NEVER to allow it before teenage years and I did just that with my oldest two but with two teenagers and a 5yr old. Well he snuck and watched his brothers play it with out my knowledge and it turned into a lost cause so yup I have to admit my 5yr old plays them.

@Elfrieda just an FYI my kids even my teenagers NEVER swear, dress inappropriately, and I even knock on wood dare to say are not rude other than an occasional eye roll from my almost 15yr old. Have never been in trouble.

Alessia - posted on 12/06/2011

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Out kids play age appropriate video games. The "hardcore" gaming is done after they go to bed. Just like we don't let them watch The Walking Dead, they don't play Borderlands or Assassin's Creed. They are perfectly content with Mario Kart Wii and Forza Motorsports.

I have grown up with video games, literally. My fist system was a Colecovision and I happily identify myself as a gamer-chick. I am no stranger to video games and I've played everything rated E to Mature. They have not made me violent or aggressive. When my children are old enough, they can play the games that are rated to their age. Simple as that.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 12/06/2011

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I also don't want to jump on the bandwagon of being judgemental, but can kind of understand the high heels and hotpants comment in the sense that..... I know what they are talking about. The total lack of parenting that seemingly hit everything, including video games, coming into context in this discussion. It's a very blanket statement but I think those kids are hurt far more from the lack of parenting, rather than playing video games themselves.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 12/06/2011

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Yeah, exactly. Butchers. Snipers. Cops. Lawyers. Anesthesiologists. Surgeons.

In our society, we have many jobs where there are moral complications. I err on the side of exposing them to these things the way you do, for the exact same reasons. They should be able to come to us, as I feel they will be way better off if they have someone to talk to about everything and understand everything as best as we can explain it.

When I was older, my mom did do this with me. I just think she waited too long to expose me to things. They wouldn't even let me watch Alice in Wonderland as a kid because Alice ate the mushroom to grow and shrink. She also ate pills titled 'Eat Me'. My parents didn't want me to think eating pills were okay. Seriously? lol

[deleted account]

Tami, I'd rather not go into what my son did because it is embarrassing and could have legal ramifications. I took the video games away because what he did pretty much made me take away everything but the ability to breathe.

√v^√v^√♥ - posted on 12/06/2011

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I go back and forth about this so much. Is it really best to shelter our kids? If so, shelter them how much? From what? Until what age, from what? Lol too many questions and things to deal with as parents ;)

I was raised too sheltered. I wasn't even allowed to watch The Simpsons until 14 years old and that's only because it was the only thing on at night everyone wanted to watch with the 13 standard channels we had at the time. Meanwhile, my mom's friend let her two boys watch whatever they want. My mom kept me from movies and video games until my teens. Even limited the amount of time I spent online as a teen. While my moms friend let her two boys practically get away with murder. They threw rocks, broke crap, screamed all day, etc.

When we were all about 8-10 we went out to eat together at a nice restaurant. This ladies sons were running around the restaurant, total chaos, jumping up and down in their seats, picking their noses with butter knives - chaos. I was horrified. I just sat in my seat the whole time. Just to show you the total opposites of parenting.

In the end? We all came out the same. One of her sons didn't like college so he's found a job, is working and got engaged to a girl recently. The other one is finishing his degree to be a forest ranger. Neat!

So, I don't really see the point......... I'm not going to let my kid run around with butter knives and be undiciplined. I do think 4-5 is too young for such video games. But by 8-10, I don't think I'll care so much anymore. They need to know what is out there. Even if it's fake fantasy dragons - they can read about those being slayed in books, or military combat like CoD - as there are entire feilds full of jobs out there that deal with combat everyday. Police, military, security and other government jobs.

By the way. I hate video games. My boyfriend plays them and is a 'gamer'. I think they waste time when we could be out doing other things. But as long as he helps me around the house enough, I could care less. I waste time too ;) haha

Also, the idea of keeping things from kids seems like a newer idea in terms of our history as a species anyway. The idea of children actually having a childhood is fairly new too. Maybe.. 70 years?

Kids used to play with toys made to look like real objects and be involved in every day life. Dolls for girls, as they would be mommies some day. Tools for boys, as they would be working some day. Girls helped mom with housework. Boys helped dad on the farm. They dealt with death because they knew the whole town. Boys usually engaged in a war, or feared they would be drafted into one.

Why make the choice to shelter kids at all? To what degree? Why?

I'm not so sure of any of it myself anymore... ;)

Tam - posted on 12/06/2011

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Jen,

At the risk of being nosey and possibly rude, how did your son's gaming almost get you evicted? Was it the noise?

[deleted account]

No, that game is not appropriate for young kids.
J does play video games, but they have to be approved by his dad & I. He loves the Lego games, Boom Blox, and Little Big Planet. Actually, he hasn't played anything but Little Big Planet since school started, and he's had more time than usual because I've been on chemo and couldn't engage him properly.

We do not allow violent cartoons either--rated or not. He gets PBS kids and a few approved shows on Netflix. We don't have cable.

[deleted account]

It doesn't bother me. Let me clarify that, it's not the violence in COD that bothers me. It's the 'it's ok' attitude towards crime in GTA that bothers me. It's all context. That's why most people dont' object to Tom & Jerry violence.

Of course then we had people who thought it was perfectly ok to take their 4-5 year olds to see Passion of the Christ (or as I affectionately term it, "Mel Gibson's Legal Snuff Film.") and these are people who would object to the violence in video games. Again, context is all.

I just recently took all my son's video games away on a permanent basis and it has nothing to do with violence. I think they made him lazy as a whole and he just recently nearly caused us to be evicted because of his laziness. That's the only reason. And he played some military-style violent games. He also cries when he sees someone in real life in pain or hurting.

I don't see the problem.

Becky - posted on 12/05/2011

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We don't really play video games in our house. I have a Wii, but I haven't used it since we moved a year and a half ago! Our kids (ages 2 and almost 4) get to play on TreehouseTv.com and games on my phone once in a while, and that's it. When I do finally let them play on the Wii, initially, it will only be active games - Wii sports, dance games, etc. Definitely no violent games before they are in their teens. I don't even play violent games - unless you consider Zelda and Mario to be violent. I guess there is some violence in them. And dh doesn't play at all, aside from the odd fishing or racing game. So we don't even have them in our house. So, until they are old enough to buy their own, with their own money, they won't be having them.
We (dh moreso than me) are not big fans of kids spending a lot of time on video games anyways. While they are young, during the colder months, we might use the Wii to get some extra exercise, but when it's nice out, I'd much rather they be outside than sitting in the house playing video games.

Tam - posted on 12/05/2011

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Exactly! And I'm sorry if I sounded combative, I didn't intend for my whole post to be aimed at you, just the first paragraph (though now that I reread it, you and I essentially agree. So that was my misunderstanding.)

I think I was mainly running hot onthe kids swearing and hotpants thing. That irritates me so much when I see and hear that in other peoples' children and perhaps I was too quick to bat. My kids know damn well they don't use foul language.

So, my apologies for being rash. Friends? :)

Elfrieda - posted on 12/05/2011

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@Tam

What you do sounds fine to me (not that you need my approval). You edit things that your kids see, and you think about it.



I do the same with my toddler if he's up while I'm watching something. I skip (or mute, or put a towel over his head while turning him upside down to distract him and humming loudly, yes I do that!) parts that have angry people, dead people, sexual scenes, violence, even crying or scenes flashing by too quickly. I don't want him to see that stuff. Actually, since I've been thinking so much about what is good for him to see, I've really gotten pickier about what I put into my own head.

Stifler's - posted on 12/05/2011

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No. Just no. Innocent games yeah sure, killing violent games like Grand Theft Auto... no. My brother was playing GTO by 6. My parents are so ignorant.

Elfrieda - posted on 12/05/2011

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I can only assume that the parents who think it's fine are the same parents who think it's funny when their kids swear or wear little hotpants and highheels. They just have no idea about protecting young minds. Yes, I'm Ms Judge-y over here.

Ashley - posted on 12/05/2011

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we have the call of duty game and I get very upset if my husband even has it on when our children are awake ... (which has only happened once) i DO NOT think its right for small kids to be around that crap... or movies like that either... like even the new halloween movie that came out this year ... spooky buddies ... at first we thought was too much for the girls .. not that it was violent just scary .. after a few mins we saw it was just a cute scary but still children are shown way to much of un necessaries and are showing this... like my neighbour (some of you may have read a few of my rants) allows her 3 yr old son to play so many vidio games and i mean this kid cant tell the difference between real play and tv play any more

[deleted account]

Mine too Jodi... since they started K at 4.5. A simple worksheet would take them maybe 10 minutes, but the coloring... oh my... sometimes it would take them THREE hours to finally get it all done. lol

[deleted account]

My girls turn 10 next Tuesday and my son is 3 years 8 months. We own no gaming systems and all share MY computer (so the kids get very limited time... girls usually play Poptropica, son plays Starfall or PBSkids).



We will not own any gaming systems unless my children, as teens, choose to purchase one. I will still have any ultimate veto power on any game though.



No, violent cartoons are not worse than violent video games, but... we don't have cable which means we don't have tv). I love the Simpsons, but my kids have never seen it.

[deleted account]

Itchy & Scratchy! It's from The Simpsons! Lisa & Bart get a kick out it Itchy & Strachy, but Marge doesn't think it's too funny.

[deleted account]

I agree with Tracey- there are plenty of times I catch my husband & son watching violent cartoons and I flip! Oh hell no he's not watching some of that! Violent video games have no business being in the hands of small kids. There are so many more educational opportunities out there for video games and yes, I will call out a parent for lacking judgement. And then politely point out the other options.

Tracey - posted on 12/05/2011

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Is there much difference between video games & some cartoons that don't have ratings? At least with a video game you have more information about the contents.

Itchy makes Scratchy bungee jump into a volcano using his intestine. Scratchy dangles just above the lava, until he is consumed by flames after Itchy pours gasoline through the other end of his intestine.

Itchy catches Scratchy's tongue to the ball return in a bowling alley. He then bowls a bomb, which comes into Scratchy's mouth, blowing him up.

Scratchy drinks a glass of acid. His body dissolves and he runs outside where he is run over by a bus.

Scratchy eats a meatball that is a bomb. He runs into the doorframe, knocking off his head. His body then explodes.

Scratchy chases after Itchy with a rapier. Itchy traps Scratchy in a guillotine and chops off his head. He then blows up the severed head with dynamite.

Jodi - posted on 12/05/2011

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My kids had homework at that age. But it was just a reader to sit and read with me.

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