Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Video Games: Your Opinion, Please

I have a question for you parents out there, and I really hope you'll share your honest opinion on the matter because I am sincerely interested in what you have to say.

The topic today is video games. In my highly scientific observations of other parents (peeking in windows and tapping phone conversations), I've found that there is a wide range of standards when it comes to the matter of what is and what is not okay for their youngsters to be playing. Now, I have my own ideas on the subject (and maybe I'll share them later), but I'm curious about yours. I'd love it if you would share your opinion on the following questions:

1. Do you monitor which video games your child plays?
2a. If you do, what is your protocol for allowing or denying a certain video game?
2b. If you take a more relaxed, permissive approach, please explain why.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am not interested at all in your opinion of other parents and their practices; I want to know how YOU personally make decisions on the matter for your own household. (I reserve the right to delete comments if there's any mud-slinging!)

Oh, and one more thing--anonymous comments ARE allowed, so don't hesitate to offer up your opinion, even if it seems unpopular!


Kim said...

We have a Wii and Abby has a DS. We are the ones who buy the games & just don't buy anything that is questionable. Now, girls are different from boys and Sam doesn't play any video games. If he was a "normal" boy, I still wouldn't buy and/or let him play anything that was questionable. Good luck!

buddens said...

My biggest problem in this arena is actually my husband having very different opinions than me. Our oldest is only four, so he agrees that Lego Star Wars is about as far as it goes right now, but I personally don't even want games like Gears of War in my home, but he has them. He doesn't seem to notice when the kids are in the room watching though, which really gets me. I don't want them seeing all that violence. It's something we'll have to work out as the kids get older I guess. My personal opinion is it's OK to "kill" stuff in video games that seem less lifelike - like Lego people who don't bleed, or all the other games where "killing" just means that thing won't bother you anymore, but it's not like you really saw it suffer and die. I worked in neurology and tend to approach things scientifically sometimes (which I know, is kind of a buzz-kill) but my philosophy is that you can't take out of a person's mind what has been placed there. Not ever. And while my kids are young enough for me to be mostly in charge I'll guard their pure minds and images housed therein the best I can.

As far as the time spent playing them goes, less is more. I know first-hand how easy it is to get sucked into playing a game for a LONG time, so the way we handle it is that when we do play, (by ourselves our with our kids) we play for hours and it's so much fun. We just don't play all that often, like maybe twice a month.

jennie w. said...

I've always been staunchly anti-video games, but a couple of years ago I realized that my boys were just going to friends houses to play games, and that most parents have a more lax attitude about what games are appropriate for kids.

So I relented and got a Wii. But my general rule is that we don't buy games that just require sitting around like any other video game system. They at least have to be standing up.

Also, we have to rent all games before I buy them to check them out. I try to avoid anything rated T (and definitely anything rated M), but there are a few exceptions, such as hunting games which I think are fine (not an animal lover, sorry!) I read the reviews of games on Amazon too, because parents usually post their thoughts on specific games.

I refuse, REFUSE, to let my kids own a DS. There is no way I want my kids being able to play video games anytime, anywhere without me knowing. Sure, I could impose all sorts of restrictions, but I'd rather save myself the grief. Even my kids who are old enough to save their money (my 12 year old son does lawn care and babysits and has quite a nest egg) are NOT allowed to get one. I've just seen one too many kids with their noses stuck in a video game instead of playing or just goofing around being a kid.

tiburon said...

Yes I monitor the games. Only E rated games in our house.

Avery is the only gamer in our house really - and she is so brilliant I think the Wii might be the reason...

Meg said...

I haven't had any issues with kids and video games (yet) because my kids are still so young, but this issue has come up with video games my husband plays. I voice my opinion pretty opening and honestly when I don't like a game or when I think he's playing too much. I try not to be too controlling about it - he's a grown man and can ultimately make his own decisions - but if it was my child I was dealing with, I definitely would turn off games that were inappropriate. No swears, no blood, no stealing cars and robbing banks and hiring hookers.

Stick to what you believe is good for your kids and your family REGARDLESS of what other parents let their kids do.

Compare it to drinking. I wouldn't let my kids drink in my house. I hope they don't drink ever. There may be other parents that let their kids drink at their house because it's "safer" and if they're going to do it anyway, they would rather have them do it at their house. That is a very dangerous way to think. If I know my kid is going to drink at someone else's house, does that mean I should allow it in my house so I can at least control it? Absolutely not.

Now, I know video games and drinking aren't quite the same thing, but video games can be destructive and dangerous for kids. Some may argue that they are just as destructive as drugs or alcohol. So, when this issue comes up with my own kids, I will not allow anything in my house that I don't want my kids exposed to. And then I will make it very clear what expectations I have of them when they are at friends' houses. And then I will hope and pray that they will listen.

That's what parenting is about, right?

Meg said...


Also, I meant to say that talking with my husband about video games he plays now is a good way to get my opinions out there about what to do when our kids our playing. We can figure out now what we want in our home and what we don't.

Leslie said...

I used to be very ANTI video games. But, then James got into some and really enjoyed them. In the end, we decided to get an old PS2 and James and Ben play it together now and then.
I would like to stick to E games only, but somehow, some E10 games got snuck in right under my nose. It's harder to take something away that your kid has been playing with, than it is to prohibit it in the first place.
I agree with the comment about the LEGO games. Somehow the violence in them doesn't seem any worse than when Ben plays with his army men or whatever.
And, honestly, sometimes it's nice to let Ben sit in front of the TV and play video games for an hour here and there.
I must say, however, that I do question myself regularly on whether this whole idea was a good one or not.

Jodi said...

I have LOTS of opinions about video games. First and foremost you've got to read "Things as They Really Are" a talk given by Elder Bednar May 3, 2009.

We don't own a game system. We tried it for a bit and didn't care for it. (Well, Bo and I didn't care for it. The kids were addicted.) We do let them play computer but they earn time by passing off their piano songs. (No more begging them to practice!)

Discernment. We're trying to teach it to our children by looking up movies on Kids In Mind and checking out game ratings on Common Sense Media together. We realized that by banning certain ratings our children thought it would be a free for all when they turned 13. Hopefully it won't be so if we teach them discernment now.

We left a home that was paid off and took on a new mortgage so that our children would have a big backyard to play in, to discover, to create, to disappear to. I'd rather be making a house payment than buying video games.

Now, will someone please help me down off this soapbox? It seems extra tall today.

Kami said...

We have yet to enter the video game scene. I'm holding out as long as possible. When we do, I'm sure I will go with the E rating until a certain age.

Good strong!

Kelly said...

We struggle with what is "ok" in our house. I used to say nothing above an E rating. But Alexander was picking up games rated T and I would say no and all three of my oldest would say but so-n-so has it. I think Alexander even told me that Christian had a couple. Now I never checked out their stories, but this made me relent a little. So now we have some T rated games. I'm a HUGE pushover. I don't want to be known as the uncool mom. Terrible huh? I will not have anything that has to do with war in my house though. What happened to Pac man on the Atari?

MiaKatia said...

My husband doesn't game, so that makes it really easy to say no to video games in general. We don't have any sort of gaming system. The kids do play games on Starfall and nick junior, but I don't really think those count. I am pretty sure we are going to be the anti game people. It is hard to tell though since they are almost 6 and almost 4... I have lots of hang ups about video games because of some of the guys I dated (they would play til 4 in the morning then miss work the next day). I realize that they kids will play them at other people houses but I guess we will cross that bridge when we get there.

Omgirl said...

I personally believe there is a definite connection between the violence in today's world, especially by teens, and the violence presented to them in the media. Not just video games, but those certainly take violence to a more active/participatory level. I watched a documentary the other day about 2 teenage boys who were bored with life in their small town, so they bought knives, went into strangers' houses and stabbed them to death. Why? 'Cause the suggestion was in their minds from video games and movies. 100 years ago, bored kids wouldn't have thought to go kill strangers when they were bored. I truly believe that what we show our minds goes into the bank of our possible future behavioral choices. Once we see it, we can think about it, and then we can do it. So I am very careful about what my kids can watch and play on our Wii. For now (small kids) it's only interactive games, physical games. As they get older, they can play more adventurous games, but never will they play killing games in my house. I am appalled to see the video games coming out today, allowed to be played by kids: ones where they can play soldiers, terrorists, assassins...come on, people! You're surprised at all the high school shootings are you?

I know, I know. I shouldn't be so wishy washy on the topic. ;)

Kellybee said...

James is only 8, so we try to keep all the video games in our home tame. We only own a Wii, and as much as he begs for us to buy an Xbox so he can play's not going to happen. On our PC, Danny set up a "favorites" file in James' name, and it has games and websites that we feel are age appropriate. We also keep our computer in our family room, so that when our kids are on the computer we can monitor what they are viewing.

shannon p. said...

I'm super strict and just hope that it doesn't come back to bite me in the rebellious years! My girls don't really play much other than the occassional computer game - very mellow. Thatcher likes to play Wii and I'm sure would love some shoot 'em up games, but we don't and wont own any.

The other thing I notice is the moods of my kids when they are done playing - they always seem to complain more and be extra grumpy - but that could just be a family thing!

Anonymous said...

I hate video games. I think they are time wasters and can be dangerous. That being said I compromised last Christmas and bought our kids a Wii and Wii Fit. They only get games where they are moving around and the have to exercise for 30 minutes first. I gave in mostly because I felt like the Wii had some appropriate games and activity levels and because my boys felt like they had nothing to offer to their friends when they came over. I wanted them to feel like they wanted to have friends over. I wish video games had never been invented. But I do try to find a level of compromise that I can live with.

writer John said...

I know I'm really late to this party. We struggled for a long time over the video game thing. We finally relented for reasons mentioned above (namely, our kids wanted to go to friend's homes specifically to play video games.) It seemed easier to monitor what was going on in our own home.

We were so pleasantly surprised to find that the absolute "obsession" our kids had had over video games quickly waned. We didn't have to do a ton of limiting of time or anything because they only played them occasionally. They go through phases when they get a new game or something, but nothing too extreme.

We definitely stick to rated E games primarily. We have to rent and thoroughly review anything that's beyond E. We got them Guitar Hero a while ago and I certainly don't appreciate some of the scantily clad characters and some of the lyrics in that game. Our kids are pretty good though about "outlawing" certain songs as long as they can play the ones we don't object to.

I know our kids think we're super strict. But in the end, it makes it much easier to be consistent with things like movies, if you haven't caved in on video games that are just as violent.

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