A father writes, “A one track mind— what do I do about my son’s computer game obsession?”
Bill remembers the struggle he had with his sons and their attraction to video games. The conversation would go something like this: “I need you to clean up your room.” “I’m playing a video game.” How much longer will you be?” Just a few minutes.” (30 minutes later) “You need to get off that game.” “Just a few more minutes.” That’s what you said 30 minutes ago.” (20 minutes later) “Turn off that game NOW!” “Dad!” “I said turn it off!” (Sound of feet stomping downstairs) Mom asks, “Aren’t you done with that game yet?” “Mom! You’re never done. You just get to different levels.”
From the Atari 2600, to the Nintendo (1985), to Sony’s PlayStation (1994), and Microsoft’s Xbox (2001) we”ve come a long way. Now we have the Xbox X and the PlayStation 5. We’ve gone from “Pong” to “Angry Birds” and “World of Warcraft,” we’ve seen an evolution of game technology and sophistication. It’s been a wild ride of adventure, conflict, and sports competition. The industry has reinvented itself, and the issues that faced parents in the 80s with Gameboy and Nintendo have grown to bigger issues parents face today with computer games and portable devices. How do you balance the expectations of family, duty and study with computer game frenzy?
Some resources may help
The Entertainment Software Association’s report, Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry, states that 72 percent of households in America are playing computer and video games. Games are nothing new. Throughout history, humans have played games. The difference today is the format.
Some books, organizations and agencies can help you manage the battle of the video. Check out The Modern Parent’s Guide to Kids and Video Games by Scott Steinberg, which discusses how to handle kids’ fascination with gaming.
The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) provides ratings for video games that can help you discern what might be appropriate for your child.
Family Friendly Video Games provides reviews of games, a seal of approval and a report card on tested games at familyfriendlyvideogames.com.
Steps you can take
Be concerned with what your kids are watching – on TV, portable device or computer – especially in these pandemic days. Here are some ways to make the relationship between your child and games a positive one:
- Check out the resources above.
- Understand ESRB ratings and use them to select age-appropriate games.
- Establish rules. Limit interaction to a set time limit.
- Make sure your child connects with friends and the outside world away from games.
- Monitor the games your child plays. Know what is being played, and if multi-player, with whom your child is playing.
- Be sensitive to the violence in video games and what effect it has on children.
With some rules along with input from your child, games can be a healthy, fun part of family happenings. Oversight and adherence to clear expectations are the keys.