I just heard on the news that yet another teenage act of violence is being blamed on Grand Theft Auto. Really? I did a little research today and it is mind-boggling how many teenagers are succumbing to criminal mischief only to have their parents shout, ‘it’s the video games that made him do it‘ and then turn around and sue. Because that’s what we do now, something goes wrong, it must be someone else’s fault. Are you overweight – sue McDonald’s because they must have forced you to drive to their restaurant (and I use that term loosely), purchase an artery clogging meal and then super-size it while the manager force-fed you against your every wish. Accountability certainly seems to be a thing of the past. At what point are parents going to take responsibility for, oh I don’t know, RAISING THEIR KIDS AND MONITORING WHAT THEY DO! I love Forza Motorsport but you don’t see me racing down I-65 trying to crash into rival cars. I’m giving Forza a shout out because they encourage online reviews from kids and unlike Grand Theft Auto, the violence, sans car crashes, in the Forza series is non-existent. http://www.commonsensemedia.org/game-reviews/forza-horizon/user-reviews/kids
My daughter is in college now but during her formative years, the only video game console that was in our home was Nintendo’s Wii Fit. I know, hardly ‘cool’. Somehow she survived her childhood and teenage years without an Xbox or Playstation and I’m fairly confident that the lack of those things will not land her in therapy. Now, I’m not saying she won’t end up there one day due to her crazy Italian family, but you will never hear her say, “it all started one afternoon after school when I met Mario & Luigi…”
I have friends in their thirties and forties with children ranging in ages from 5 to 15. All of them have some sort of gaming console in their home – some strictly monitor the hours their children can play on it, some do not, at all. I have seen first hand these responsible, educated, all around nice people buy video games for their pre-teen kids, even when the game rating is “17 and over”. Hmmm, let’s think about the ramifications of that decision sans any common sense for a moment. You allow your child, who has barely entered the coveted double-digit age, to play games with excessive use of heavy artillery, while often promoting sex & drugs, massive killings and violence that would impress Tony Montana from Scarface. Then, at age 16, they begin getting into trouble – drugs, gangs, maybe even shooting up a mall full of people on a Saturday afternoon. And when the police question you, you really have no idea why he would do such a horrible thing because he was a very quiet boy, always kept to himself and spent a lot of time in his room. Guess what, he wasn’t writing poetry. Let me be clear, I am not blaming video games for trigger happy teenagers. I’m putting this back on the parents. Because I would imagine that a young, impressionable ten-year old that was allowed to spend entirely too much time playing violent games for seven years might not grow up to be the next Ambassador for Peace.
I think video games played in moderation are probably pretty harmless. If they weren’t, millions of adults that play Farmville would have all turned into farmers with anxiety issues wondering if they had watered their crops and another million or so adults would be making those same farmers offers they couldn’t refuse to grow crops of weed for them to sell on Mafia Wars.
All joking aside, being a responsible parent is damn hard work. But guess what, they are our responsibility. Not teachers, not coaches and certainly not the TV or video games. It’s on us first and foremost. It’s a thankless job, the pay sucks and that terrible two stage has been known to stick around for
years. Why some parents try to be their kids ‘friend’ I will never understand. My daughter is nineteen, and I’ve told her over and over, somewhere in your thirties we might be friends – now, I’m still Mama. While she was growing up, if she misbehaved, she was spanked; when she talked back, she got a teaspoon of vinegar in her mouth. When “time-outs” became the new parenting tool I couldn’t help but laugh – yes, put your child in the corner or better yet, in their room, where the video games are. That’ll show them! Bette Davis said it best, “If you have never been hated by your child, you have never been a parent.”
I fear this upcoming generation will be filled with people who have a grandiose sense of entitlement and zero knowledge of personal responsibility – I’m already seeing it. They learn from example people, so if you’re a parent, that example had damn well better be you – and you need to make it a consistently good one. But let me tell you something, when your daughter is in college and you get a text one day that says,
“Mom, I’ve been meaning to tell you this, thank you for raising me the way you did. Literally every person I met this weekend told me they’ve never met a girl who could stand up for herself like I do”.
…makes every damn second of the past nineteen years worth it.
Every. Damn. One.