With the inexorable advance of technology comes the inexorable advance to seek entertainment. When computers were first introduced to the public, they were still quite primitive and much of their performance could be easily compared to something just a little more advanced than your scientific calculator. Just a few years since their creation, the idea of computer games came to the minds of various programmers who simply wanted to amuse themselves with what their computer was capable of. Thus was the world of video games created.
However, in those days, games too were quite primitive. Some of the forerunners of modern videogames were simulated table tennis and simulations of shooting down aircraft. In later years, as developers created more advanced graphics, the Mario brothers were introduced to the world and children all across the world came to love him as their new pop culture icon. Then, as more progress was made, Chun-li came into the scene, becoming one of the first playable female characters in videogame history and teen boys (and maybe quite a few girls as well) fell head over heels for her thighs.
Okay, now that I’ve given you some idea on how videogames came into being, it’s time to address a question that’s been floating around the public mind for a long time: Are videogames bad for children?
Indeed, over the past few decades, as videogames continue to develop and become more advanced with graphics that are more and more realistic and artificial intelligence that is getting closer and closer to how a real human thinks, there has also been a notable increase in violence among the youth. Could there be an actual relation between the two?
Well, unfortunately there is. While I myself am an avid gamer, I have noticed that children in computer shops that have been playing violent videogames tend to be a lot less pleasant than, say, children who just want to do a project with a computer. There’s also the various school shootings we hear that are also attributed to violent videogames although some of the connections with the games can be somewhat iffy. Then there’s even the latest news regarding children who died because of playing a game for days at a time with very little food, rest or bathroom breaks in between, an act that is called poop-socking by other gamers.
Videogames, are considered a form of media on their own much like books, films and TV shows. I, for one, can also say that some videogames can be considered works of art such as Sid Meier’s Civilizations franchise and the Mass Effect trilogy. But like all media, not all videogames are appropriate for children. For instance, even great films like The Matrix trilogy or The Titanic are not exactly appropriate for children, have scenes that are not appropriate for children or at least require an adult to explain to the children that what they are watching might not be real or good for them.
Videogames are almost the same way. As a fellow gamer, I think that it would be nearly impossible to put a stop to the production and development of newer and more advanced games. Like comic books, videogames have an audience in almost every society and outlawing them will only serve to make things worse. I think that, in order to mitigate some of the more negative effects of videogames, it’s time that parents step-up and put a little more discipline into their children. Remember, it’s not up to game developers to change the content of their games, it is up to parents with discretion to decide whether or not a game is actually beneficial or detrimental to their children.
Since it’s a bit hard for less informed parents on how to decide a game for their kids, I’ll offer three important tips on how to choose a game for your child if you yourself are doubtful about videogames:
Check the ESRB Rating of the Game
For those not in the know, the ESRB is to videogames what the MTRCB is to TV shows and movies. The ESRB or Entertainment Software Rating Board was formed many years ago when it was decided that some games, namely Mortal Kombat and Night Trap, simply isn’t for young minds. Anyway, the ESRB is responsible for checking games and rating them for the right audience.
The ESRB rating system is as follows:
- RP (Rating Pending): This means that a game has yet to be rated for an audience.
- EC (Early Childhood): Educational games for preschool children.
- E (Everyone): Everyone, obviously.
- E 10+: Everyone above ten years of age.
- T (Teen): For teenagers and above.
- M (Mature): 17+ gamers.
- AO (Adults Only): Absolutely NOT for children.
Take a Peek at the Game Yourself
If you’re more than a little suspicious about the game’s contents, you can try playing the game yourself. This isn’t really all that surprising as I found the game Dead or Alive Paradise a little too intense but was nonetheless given the “Teen” rating. Anyway, if you’re not sure of the game being for kids, check it out yourself. I’m not saying that you should play it yourself, what I’m saying is why not take a 30-minute look at the game’s contents, mechanics and theme before letting your children play it. That way, you’ll have a way better insight on just what it is your children are playing.
Limit Hours of Gaming
Your children might complain about this but remember, discipline should start at home. As one commenter said, throwing a tablet at a kid and asking him/her to stop annoying you won’t put points in your skills as a parent. Of course, the occasional game every now and again to pass the time while waiting or as a reward for good deeds is certainly helpful but you don’t want a game to influence the rest of your child’s life. Too many parents of today simply think that giving a tablet or any kind of gadget to their child will be enough to placate them and make them good children. Unfortunately, this can’t be further from the truth as doing this plays into the idea that they can get whatever they want and gradually distance them from you. And remember that a gadget makes for a very poor substitute for a parent and only the real love and warmth of a true mother or father can make a child’s life whole.
The bottom line is that videogames are just another form of media and can be either good or bad for children. It falls entirely to the parents to filter out which games are for their children and which are not. Also, remember that too much of anything is always bad. Too much videogames are always detrimental to minds just as too much cholesterol can be bad for their physical health and too many teleseryes and noon-time shows can be bad for their intellectual health. Children are the responsibility of adults and, by shirking that responsibility, we allow the next generation to suffer ignorance, apathy and incompetence. As adults, it is up to us to raise children properly and make sure that they grow up into the kind of productive citizens that this country needs.
Now, back to my quest in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mysteries of Westgate…
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