Being a gamer, I spend a bit of time in places like GameStop and the video game sections of Target and Best Buy. And while there, especially around Christmas, I was noticing a disturbing trend: parents not paying attention to the games they were buying for their children. I was talking to the assistant manager at a GameStop that I frequent, and he told me about a mother coming in with her 11 year old son to get the latest Grand Theft Auto. She had NO CLUE as to what GTA was, so the assistant manager, being a parent, told her about some of the “experiences” that the game allows you to have. And despite the warning, because of the child’s begging, telling her he plays it at a friend’s house and his assurances that he wouldn’t actually go into the virtual strip club, she purchased it for him.
I’m not the type of parent that feels as though violent video games create mass murderers, juvenile delinquents and suicide bombers, but I AM the type of parent that tries very hard to control what my children are exposed to. My oldest couldn’t play anything like Call of Duty until he was well into his teenage years, and I didn’t play it when he was around. No, I didn’t think (and don’t think now) that my son would have grown an affinity for automatic weapons and killing terrorists because of this game, but that’s MY son. Every child isn’t able to separate fantasy from reality, and especially when they’re very young and impressionable. It’s really, REALLY important to talk to your children and know where there head is because believe it or not, it’s not always the game that’s the problem, but the people who play it.
Let me school you on something … say for example you got the kids an Xbox 360 or a PlayStation 3 (or an Xbox One/PlayStation 4 if you had the coin to do so) for Christmas, and they told you that in order to download stuff they need to be on Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network. There’s truth to that. But along with being able to download games it allows them to play online with people, and depending on the game, some of those people may not be people you want your child exposed to. I’ll put it this way; unless people are on my friends list, meaning I know them, I don’t play online and I’m grown. It can be that bad out there. Fortunately there are settings on Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network that allows you to control what your child has access to and who has access to your child, but YOU have to set them. Do Not trust your child to set them for you. Not that a child would intentionally be deceitful and set it up so that they have full control … perish the thought … but sometimes they may miss an option here or there that can make a world of difference. Take the time to figure out how these controls work, and if you’re completely overwhelmed, asked someone familiar to come over and set it up with/for you.
My rules are simple; if you won’t let your kids watch an explicit movie, why would you allow them to play an explicit game? There are ratings on these games for a reason, so if they need you there with them in order to purchase it, should they be playing it? And if they’re playing a game that you wouldn’t buy for them at someone else’s home, should they be going there? Just some things to think about. Do your homework and know what your kids are playing, and WHO they’re playing it with. Sometimes bad influences come from places you wouldn’t think …
Talk to you soon!