Thursday, 24 May 2012

Parents Need to Watch what Their Kids are Playing

Great moments in obviousness.
In news that should be shocking to absolutely no one, a recent study recommends that parents should actively monitor the games that their children are playing, rather than relying solely on ratings.

The study, conducted by one Craig Anderson who himself is no stranger to video game research (or controversy for that matter) also concluded that playing prosocial games resulted in children being more helpful while playing violent -- even cartoonishly violent -- games made children more prone to hurtful behaviours.

Now, I don't agree with the conclusions that Anderson has reached about violence and gaming in regards to any formative social behaviours; regardless of what side you come down on the waters right now are just too muddy to determine anything with any sort of clarity. However, just because I don't agree with his research doesn't mean I can't back him up on one point: parents need to be mindful of what their kids are playing.

I mostly say this because whenever I hear parents complaining about how they caught their kid playing the latest Grand Theft Auto or whatever, I often find that it's because the parents bought the game for them in the first place. They disregard or don't even acknowledge the ESRB rating to begin with, and then leave the kid with the game as a cheap babysitter substitute. These people have no right to be shocked when they find that little Jimmy has been running over people in game all night.

The gaming generation is starting to grow up. Hell, we have grown up. People I went to school with are starting to have kids of their own, and since it doesn't look like gaming as a hobby is going to be going away anytime soon I think it's fair to say that these kids are going to eventually be playing stuff on the PS whatever, the Nintendo thing, or the Xbox 5090, and there's no reason they shouldn't be able to. I just believe that their parents, having been playing games themselves for so long, will exercise good judgment.

We should be able to say that a Mario title or a Mega Man one won't be too damaging to young minds, but if we're in doubt, well, why don't we just play the games with our kids? Or at the very least watch along and encourage them. Who knows, maybe for some lapsed gamers seeing their kids experience gaming for the first time might reignite that spark.

The point I'm trying to make is that if we make poor choices, then we are the only ones to blame for any consequences forthcoming. If what kids are playing is such a big concern right now, then let's make sure it isn't one for the future.

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