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:
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.
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:
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…