For your enjoyment, disconcertment or pure amusement, here is a portion of my 15 year old son's Christmas Wish List:
2. Grand Theft Auto V
3. Call of Duty: Black Ops
4. Borderlands 2
5. Call of Duty: MW3
6. Battlefield 3
7. Farcry 3
To all of you "gamers" out there, let me apologize in advance. I do not get your world. I see some of you as normal, functioning people who can discern between these cyberworlds and the rest of reality. I wonder if you spent hours and hours of your childhood staring dazedly into a small screen while your thumbs moved with seizure-like motions over a variety of buttons and knobs and you lost all track of time, space and the normal physical world. You seem fine - you really do - but I also wonder what you would be like today if you had spent those hours - say - outside? Or doing something else with this life that God gave you rather than partaking in an animated, role-playing shooter loot fest (that term is taken directly from a game description, by the way).
So you - whom I described above - are going to think I'm a raving lunatic - an old-fashioned, technologically-disadvantaged, middle-aged mom who doesn't "get" the cache of violent video games. So if I were you, I'd stop reading now, or start preparing your rebuttal, much like I received in my critically-acclaimed (*sarcasm*) blog: Shock Rock - What a Crock.
That out of the way, let's just get down to it. I EFFING HATE VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES. And I do NOT allow my children to play Rated M games in my house. Do they play them? Hells yes. Every chance they get. I've made them taboo, so they want them even more. I know that. So they don't hang out at home - they go to their friends' house, whose parents allow such games, and they play them there.
I once thought, when my kids were young, that I would try to have the "cool" house, where their friends would want to come and hang out. I'd have the best snacks, the best TV, the best games, the best environment. It'd be great. That way, I'd know where my kids were, I'd know their friends, and I, of course, would be cool.
That pipe dream has done burst. When I realized what it takes for a parent nowadays to be cool, I folded. I'm out. No thanks. I've compromised enough (of course my kids don't think so). We have a PS2 and a PS3 (they traded in the Wii for the PS3). They have handheld gaming systems. My oldest has a phone and a Droid from his father for music. They both have iPods. I'd say that's enough.
Nope. They want Rated M games. Halo. Call of Duty. Borderlands. Medal of Honor. Kill Zone. Resident Evil. Soldier of Fortune.
Uncharted came with the PS3, and it looked OK. Now, after hearing endless afternoons of shooting, blasting and screaming, coupled with my kids yelling, "Shoot him in the HEAD, you IDIOT!" I'm about done.
Here's the thing about video games and MY kids. I can't speak for ALL kids. But MY kids don't know when to say when. They become consumed with these stupid, life-obliterating blood and guts scenarios to the point where they become physically agitated during and for a good portion of time after they play them. It bothers me. A lot. And no, we're not even going to do the "one hour a day of violent video games" rule or "only violent video games on the weekend." DO YOU SEE HOW STUPID THAT SOUND?
I know there have been studies done on the effects of video games on children, both pro and con. The pros say it actually helps dexterity, attention span, reaction time, etc. Whatever. So does a game of Scrabble. The cons say it propagates violent behaviors, aggressive thoughts and an overall escapism mentality in our youth. Guess which one I agree with?
Here's my conundrum. It's the "all the other kids have these games, Mom." It's the "all the other parents let their kids play Rated M games, Mom." What's up, parents? Am I sitting here on Planet Amy (which apparently is right next to the hillside where Little House on the Prairie was filmed) all by myself? Am I really wrong here? Because I think I've caved in on a lot of parenting stuff that I don't necessarily believe in.
1. I think my kids should go to church every Sunday. They don't. I could make them, but I don't.
2. I think my kids eat too much junk food. But if I don't buy it, the will eat NOTHING. So I buy it, with the stipulation that they eat a piece of fruit before they have the junk. This hardly ever happens.
3. My son has long hair. I do not make him cut it.
4. My son wears his pants low. I don't make a big deal out of it.
5. I'm not wild about sleepovers. Especially now that they are older. It's cute when they're 7 or 8. When they're 15, I tend to think it's less about a sleepover and more about an excuse to do something they shouldn't be doing. But on occasion, I still allow them.
But there are at least two things to which I will not bend. The first one is guns. I hate them. I really do. They make me sick. I don't care if you're hunting or target shooting or paintballing or air-softing or whatever. I hate 'em. We didn't grow up with guns and for those who did, it may be a different story. Mostly I hate them because of the accidents that can happen when kids who don't know any better get their hands on them. That would be my kids. And no, I'm not going to get them guns so they can learn to be safe with them. Sorry. Can't do it; don't want them in my house. And before you judge, you don't know my kids. I do.
OK, back to this Mature-rated crap that is infiltrating my Immature kids. It is causing intense amounts of discord beteween my 15 year old and myself because his opinion is far different than mine (go figure). In fact, he says (in an email), and I quote, "I can't tell you of one kid my age who can't play M games, and I see no
reason why I shouldn't be allowed to play them. Because of the increase
in violent games, the percent of M games is a majority, thus limiting my
game selection. Therefore, I urge you to let me play them. I know 5th
through 9th graders that have them, so better late then never."
To which I reiterated my reasons for not allowing such games in my home, one being his younger brother. But in conclusion, I had to default to the "I'm the parent" speech that 15 year olds seem to forget time and time again: "I know you don't understand this but it is something you will just have
to accept as a minor. I am your parent and I still make the bulk of the
decisions." Just so you don't think that I run my family as a dictatorship, I reminded him that as he gets older I am giving him more freedoms based on the amount of trust he has earned, and he should be happy for that and not be so concerned with these epic-wastes-of-time-on-a-disc.
So that's where I stand. And I'm ready to hear from ALL the parents who allow their kids to have M-rated games. TELL me how they're "not that bad". TELL me that it's just how it is nowadays and I'll just have to change my curmudgedy ways or I will drive my son to buy violent video games on the black market and play them out on the streets. TELL me it's the only way I'll have a decent relationship with my teen. C'mon. Bring it on. Let's hear it.
Better yet, for those parents who don't have a clue but still might give a shit, why don't you check and see what games your kids are playing for hours on end in the basement. Sit down and blow some guys away for a few hours. Watch your kid's face. You might be surprised that you feel the urge to throw the whole thing out the window, grab a football, and tell your kid to come outside and play some catch.