November 14, 2013 by talkaboutyork
Parenting is about choice. Everyone does it differently. People can get very judgemental about who is doing it right and wrong. I have always felt that parents know their kids best and so they should parent the way they see fit. I don’t always agree with how some people parent, but accept that people do things differently.
There are times when other people’s parenting decisions will impact your child. In these instances, all you can do is teach your child how to manage the situation. So for example, if you insist that your child shouldn’t eat sweets and they go to a party and everyone else is eating sweets, that is going to be hard on your kid. As a parent, if you want them to follow your rules, you need to give them the tools to cope when situations like that arise. You can’t expect everyone else at the party not to let their kids have sweets. You may wish other parents didn’t let their kids have sweets because it would make your life easier, but not eating sweets is a choice you are making for your child.
And some people feel like that about video games. Like me. I do not want my children playing video games that are age inappropriate. My boys are aged eight and nine. They are allowed to play a few games that are rated 12, depending on the content, but that is where it ends (for some parents, even 12 certifications would be too old). They are not allowed to play on 16+ and 18+ games.
Yet some parents – many it seems – are very happy for their children to play these games. And much like the sweets analogy, just because I don’t want my children playing on these games doesn’t mean other kids shouldn’t be allowed to if their parents think it is ok.
But I wish these parents didn’t think it was ok.
It is a problem when my children want to go play at other kids’ houses and they have these games. Many parents don’t check what age game your child is allowed to play and merrily leave the kids to it. My children know that they are not allowed to play on 16+ and 18+ games, but the temptation and peer pressure must be very difficult for them. I am very appreciative that my friends do check first which games I am happy for them to play on, but it can put my child in an awkward social position as his friends might start to say that they don’t want him over as he’s not allowed to play the scary games. I guess that is my problem to help them deal with it.
But the problem comes when a child has these games on their mobile phone, ipad or other mobile device which they take out with them. If a child pulls out a gaming device on a school bus for example, the child sitting next to them will find it virtually impossible not to look at the screen and hear the sounds (unless the kids has earphones). Which means that they will still be exposed to these age inappropriate games.
I liken this to passive smoking. If you choose to smoke and damage your health, that is your choice. If you choose to smoke next to me, I will end up passively smoking. My choices are to ask you to please not smoke next to me, or to move. If a parent chooses to let their child play a violent 18+ game on a mobile phone, that is their choice. But when they play that game in front of my child, who will be like a moth to a flame, then my child is passively involved with the game and very often can’t move out of the situation. And that isn’t right.
Put it another way: if a person was sitting next to your child watching a pornographic video on their mobile phone and your child could watch and listen to the entire thing, would you be happy about it? No? Well that’s how I feel about 16+ and 18+ games for 9 year olds.
What games are being played?
I will declare right here that I am not an expert on video games. I find them mindless and cannot see the fascination in them. But I have two boys and I am not a complete idiot. They do love video games. While I don’t tend to play them with them (because the motion on screen makes me feel sick) my husband will from time to time, which I am pleased about as he can keep an eye on things. And when they ask for a game, I research it pretty thoroughly to ensure it is suitable. I read online reviews, I look at the age rating, I ask in-store staff. I do not just accept that they can play with it ‘because everyone does.’
Amongst my children’s peer group, the inappropriate games that seem to be played most often are from the Call of Duty franchise (all the titles – Modern Warfare 2, Ghosts, Zombies etc). I believe some have also got GTA 5 as it’s new and much hyped. In case any parents out there are reading this and let their kids play on these games but haven’t really looked into them much, just given in to the pester power, let me fill you in.
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 makes it into the top ten list of most violent games, yet it and GTA are mild in comparison to some of the seriously sick stuff that is out there. Here is however, a descriptor of Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2:
The Call of Duty franchise is no stranger to violence, but this installment is particularly notable because of the “No Russian” level, where gamers join a group of terrorists as they casually murder scores of people at an airport. Players can abstain from the slaughter if they choose, but that doesn’t save them from being executed by a terrorist leader at the end.
So that shouldn’t be unsettling at all the next time your family heads off on holiday….
I also watched a GTA clip on Youtube in which an elderly man with his genitals on full display tries to rape a young girl, before another man shoots the old guy and his friend to bits. Repeatedly. Bullets to the brain type stuff. I felt sick watching the clip. And that was one little clip. And I’m an adult.
YET there are parents who let their kids watch this stuff. I have to ask: Why??? Have you ever looked at the games yourself? Have you played them? Have you read the reviews? If you have answered yes to all of these questions and you still feel that your child, who you know best, is more than capable of enjoying these games without being affected by them, then feel free.
But, could I politely ask that you explain to them that not all children are allowed to play these games. And that they should respect their friends who aren’t allowed to play these games and should NOT play them on their mobile devices next to their friends on school buses or after school or in the playground.
In case you aren’t sure what an 18+ rating game might include, here is a descriptor based on PEGI standards:
This adult rating is applied when the level of violence reaches a stage where it becomes gross violence and/or includes elements of specific types of violence. In general terms it is where the level of violence is so visually strong that it would make the reasonable viewer react with a sense of revulsion. This rating is also applied where the level of sexual activity is explicit which may mean that genitals are visible. Any game that glamorises the use of real life drugs will also probably fall into this category.
And you are ok with your nine year old seeing that?
- Get educated on these games and make informed choices before letting your kids play on them. Don’t just accept that your child has switched it to ‘safe’ mode. They aren’t thick. They can turn it off once safe mode becomes boring. Play the games with them to check.
- Teach your child that if they want to play them, they play them in their own homes and not in front of other children whose parents may not want them exposed to them.
- Let kids be kids. Think about it. If they are killing people violently and being exposed to rape and violence against women and a range of profanities and drug use at age nine, what will they want for kicks aged 18?
- Just say no. The more parents who say no means less peer pressure on young kids who feel they have to play these games to fit in.
In case you aren’t sure about the age rating system, take a look at this which explains it.