First Person Shooter Video Games

Should parents oppose or embrace video games?

In a world where over 90% of young people “game” in one way or another (with 91% of tween boys and 93% of tween girls playing games online), how can parents keep up with which games are appropriate and which games aren’t? And how do parents decide how much game time is too much? Parents vary in their opinions. While some parents see video games as competing with grades or social time, other parents see video games as an opportunity to bond with their gaming kids. This Fast Company Magazine article goes as far as to say, “PlayStation is the New Playing Catch.”

Parents consistently ask me questions about discernment with video games, especially those “first person shooter” games. That’s one reason we just launched a brand new VIDEO GAME REVIEWS page on our parenting web site (We now have almost 200 game reviews up already).

Even with resources like this available, parents still seem to be curious of my personal “stand” on video games. For example, last month someone was reading articles on our www.TheSource4Parents.com website and asked me the following question using our new ASK THE SOURCE page:

Jonathan,

I’d love to hear your thoughts on first person shooter video games.

My 14 year old son says everyone in his discipleship group plays them and even his d-group leaders talk positively about Black Ops and other M-rated games that they play… even during d-group sessions.

When I was 14 my parents took away my beer t-shirt and my Cheech and Chong album with pot stashed in the car door, and looking back, I’m glad they did.

But my son had a fit when I took away his Teen rated Goldeneye 007 first person shooter Wii game. I couldn’t believe it was rated T. Lots of research links violent video games to more aggressive behavior in teens. But more importantly than that, I look at verses like Psalm 11:5, Matt. 5:21, Gal. 5:22-23, and Phil. 4:8, and I can clearly see that playing a “game” for 12 hours a day during summer vacation where you are endlessly seeking to shoot people in the head is not what brings about a life of love, joy, and peace.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this! Thanks so much for all the help you give to us as parents out here.

John

I thought this was a really good question. I get asked this question so often, I thought it would be good to post my answer. Here’s just a snippet:

John,

As for your question about video games–good question… and a common one.

We live in a “gaming” world now and parents are now faced with the responsibility of teaching our kids discernment about what games to play and what to avoid.

Let me first say, opinions on this subject will vary greatly. That’s why our new video game review page on www.TheSource4Parents.com will actually never say “let your kids play this” or “don’t let your kids play this one.” We’re just going to tell you the facts: a brief description, and then blurbs about “what parents should know about…” violence, language, sexual content, and spiritual content. Then the parent can make an informed decision.

We talk a little about the game industry in one of our recent Youth Culture Window articles, The Dominance of Video Games, giving parents specific advice on making informed decisions about purchasing video games and talking with our kids about making good media decisions.

As for me personally, it’s been a journey with my son. When he was younger, we stuck to Mario and Donkey Kong. But as he got into junior high, his desire for some of the shooting games like “Call of Duty” and “Halo” became more intense because all his friends played those games. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we should give in to our kids every desire. If my son’s friends all watched the Hangover movies, it doesn’t mean that we should consider letting him watch it just because “everyone else is.” But there are certain times in our journey as a parent where we’ll need to address certain desires more than others. When my son was in junior high, he didn’t give a care about girls, but he longed to play first person shooter games!

To make matters more difficult, his junior high youth pastor played “Halo” with all the junior high boys at “Halo Night” events. I’m not saying that is a bad thing– but that did make my job as a parent more difficult because now, if I said, “Sorry Alec, you aren’t going to play this game.” …then I was really going to be the bad guy! After all, everyone, including his youth pastor, was playing this one!

So I did a little research on the subject. Here’s how I suggest parents research video games…

CLICK HERE FOR THE REST OF MY ANSWER ABOUT
TEACHING OUR KIDS VIDEO GAME DISCERNMENT

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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6 Responses to First Person Shooter Video Games

  1. Adam says:

    That was one of the best answers I’ve seen so far.

  2. Josh says:

    Jonathan,

    I myself am in the boat of using video games as a way to talk with students and interact with them outside of the church. I am an xbox fan personally, and a bunch of my students also have xbox’s. I am able to get online some nights and play with the students and their friends. I don’t enjoy campaign play as much as multiplayer play, because it is more fun to play with other people than it is to play against the computer. A couple of the parents in my youth group allow their students to only play the multiplayer because the campaign is usually where the game gets its rating from. Black Ops is a perfect example of that, I played through it just to see what the students might have been playing, and it was the part of the game that had the most “graphic” violence and language that it got the M rating for. Now, if you switch over to the multiplayer, the language is not there and the violence isn’t depicted in such a strong way. But it is more fun, in my own opinion. Parents and youth leaders just need to make judgments about what they are going to do with video games and what they are going to allow. And as a Youth Minister, I need to respect what parents have decided for their students. If I know a parent doesn’t let their student play, then I am not going to have playing videos as part of an event where I know that they will be coming. But other times, I’ve had parents host a video game hang out at their home where they would cook and myself with 3 other students would have fun playing against each other. And the thing is, if you can talk to a student about Black Ops, you “earn” some respect in their book. Many times video games was what opened the conversation but it always ended somewhere else, much deeper and meaningful. Especially when playing online and using a head set to talk to team mates. Even though we are playing the game together, we are usually talking about life, school, sports, their families, and about the Bible. Video games are a great tool if used wisely.

    Josh

  3. Pingback: Are violent video games appropriate for youth ministry? | Life In Student Ministry

  4. Brandon says:

    Let me start by saying I love video games. But parents love Pacifiers. A baby pacifier will stop crying, a TV in your kids room will give you alone time, and video games…… well video games solve all your problems. Your kids stop whining about not having what their friends have, your able to put them away in their room ‘off the streets’ where it is safe, you get your alone time, you don’t have to entertain them by taking them out anywhere. We have a major cultural problem that is based on Selfishness. It’s not the kids fault. Like your post Pleading Ignorant says, Parents these days don’t lead our kids. They follow them. They follow them into movies they want to see, and buy video games they want to play. I was at Gamestop just the other day and a parent was asking the clerk about buying Grand Theft Auto for her 13 year old son. “Really”, I thought. One of the most popular video games out there, known for it’s content. It’s awesome that you have Video Game reviews out there for parents, but I doubt that it will help. The covers to most games say it all. ok, sorry for ranting.
    Point: We youth leaders have to recognize the problem of isolation. Your book CONNECT: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation is so true and is a must read for anyone even interested in working with students. Absolutely fantastic book.

  5. Geri says:

    Which came first, the problem or the suoltoin? Luckily it doesn’t matter.