Mom Complains: "Video Games Were Created By Satan"
Now, before any of you freak out, bear two things in mind: we are talking about a woman who simply wishes to be a good mother and is concerned about what she hears in the press (and if you know nothing about the subject at hand, this is always a bad position to be in), and secondly, let's not give the impression that she might be right by getting all caustic and aggressive.
In a blog entry that's bound to rile many a gamer around the country, staff writer Marla Jo Fisher of The Orange County Register believes that video games can only have a negative impact on children. In her article, she complains that after playing video games at a friend's house, her son will come home "with a sickly pallor" and remains "testy" all day. This is after saying she thinks video games were created by Satan "to turn otherwise normal children into his drooling, glassy-eyed stooges." Then she cites the unfortunate news story of a kid who couldn't stop playing Grand Theft Auto IV; the obsession was to the point where two Boston cops had to step in. Now, considering what she has seen, I will freely sympathize with her and recall a simpler, gentler time...okay, a time before I was born, but I've heard about it, at the very least.
The point is this, and you will forgive me for creating an article that is part news and part editorial: as difficult as this will be for her to accept, this is simply passing the buck. This is seeking out a culprit when the only culprit that ever can exist is - get ready for it - the parenting. I grew up with video games. Everyone I know grew up with video games and still play them to this day. We're all over 30 now and we all have respectable jobs (I know everyone from teachers to programmers to former police officers and salesman), many of us are starting families, and oh yes, not a one of us have a criminal record. Lastly, we were always some of the smartest kids in class, although adulthood has a way of marginalizing those accomplishments to some degree. In the end, when you see a kid walking out of a library with his face buried in a Nintendo DS (as she cites in her article), that really isn't the DS's fault. And it sure isn't Satan's.
My parents were relatively strict about how and when I played my games. Other parents were as well. If my grades dropped (they didn't, but we're doin' a hypothetical, here), I can absolutely guarantee that my play time would've dropped considerably. Now, I have always been a proponent of the ESRB and I wholeheartedly believe that children of a certain age should never be playing something like GTAIV, for the same reasons they should never be attending a rated "R" movie. She's right in wondering why kids "don't think" anymore; they don't because they really are too glued to electronics. But while the pull of these electronics is indeed strong, what is stopping the parents from instituting and maintaining some discipline in the household? What's stopping them from opening the young eyes and minds of their children by introducing them to other aspects of life? Take them to the theater, take them on hikes, take them to the zoo and the carnival and the museum and the town green for a community get-together. Be a parent.
I know, I know. Not being a parent myself, I'm not allowed to lecture. But am I not allowed to use the example of my own parents, or parents I grew up knowing? Am I not allowed to look around me and see intelligent, well-adjusted, respectable individuals who once may have had a "sickly pallor" from playing a game a little too long? The point is, video games can be dangerous for a child, just as most all forms of entertainment can be. But keeping them away from it entirely is typically a bad idea; the curiosity of a child is second-to-none, so if you keep him away from junk food forever, the instant he goes off to college, he may live on junk food. So my advice to the mother here is this: get that Wii and just keep an eye on its use. When the kid goes to a friend's house, maybe he won't be so apt to dive headfirst into the "forbidden" leisure activity, 'cuz he has already experienced it in his own house.
Oh, and the museum and the hikes. Don't forget that. Please, help the child expand his horizons. Put a book into his or her hands before the kid even leaves first grade.
P.S. Read the comments below that blog entry. A bunch of really intellingent gamers have stepped UP.
1/6/2010 10:54:50 AM Ben Dutka