My oldest son Adam and I were on one of our Sunday walks when he asked me, “Why can’t I play the video games my friends play?” There was a bit of pleading in his voice. Of course I knew he was referring to the violent, shoot ‘em up kind of video games, which are strictly forbidden in our house. I decided to try to turn this opportunity into an impressionable conversation.
We live on a beautiful country road which winds through Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. There are horse farms, sprawling hills and stunning vegetation.
“Look around you,” I suggested. “See the trees, sky, fields, farms, horses, cows, birds and ducks? Now imagine that your mind is photographing everything you see. At any time in the future you’ll be able to pull up an image from this landscape because somewhere in your brain, these pictures have been permanently downloaded like photos on a computer. The same thing happens if you spend time playing violent video games. You replay those images in your mind. And in some cases, this can lead kids to do reckless things they may not have done otherwise.”
Adam stared back at me wide-eyed and I knew he got it. (I considered this quite an accomplishment, because as we all know, it’s not so easy getting through to a tween.)
As a parent, there are frequent challenges on how to set limits on things such as TV, DVDs, computer use, cell phones, iPods, etc. The issue of violent video games is certainly on this list.
Later that evening while headed to a neighbor’s house, we passed the same spot we had our discussion earlier. “Mom, remember the picture?” he asked. I smiled and felt relieved that we’d managed to get over this video-game hurdle – at least for now.
What are your house policies on violent video games? And how do you help your kids understand the limits you have set for them?