Posts Tagged ‘video games’

DadPad: When is Enough, Enough? Kids, Video Games and Parenting

April 15, 2010

Are your kids into gaming?  I found some interesting statistics on the effects of Video Game Playing at the National Institute on Media and the Family’s website:  For instance:

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  • 63% of Americans have played a video game in the past 6 months, compared to only 53% of people who have gone out to the movies (NDP Group Inc., 2009).
  • A study of over 2,000 8 to 18 year-olds (3rd through 12th graders) found that 83% of them have at least one video game player in their home, 31% have 3 or more video game players in their home, and 49%  have video game players in their bedrooms (Roberts, Foeher, and Rideout, 2005).
  • In the same study only 21% of kids reported that their parents set rules about which video games they can play, 17% reported their parents check warning labels or ratings on video games, and 12% reported they play video games they know their parents don’t want them playing (Roberts, Foeher, and Rideout, 2005).

Did you read that last bullet?  Only 21% of kids said Mom and Dad set rules about video game playing and 12% play games that they (kids) KNOW their parents don’t want them playing.

The video game industry continues to grow.  In fact, the 2010 Game Developers conference in San Francisco had “an all-time record of 18,250 game industry professionals attending San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center for the March 9th-13th event. Surpassing last year’s total of 17,000 attendees.” (By Ubm Techweb Game Network, PRNE-March 14, 2010)

There are plenty of issues that can be debated and discussed about the pros/cons of video games.  Here are a few potential outcomes of excessive gaming (per the Effects of Video Game Playing post at MediaFamily.org):

  • Adolescents who play more than one hour of console or Internet video games have more or more intense symptoms of ADHD or inattention than those who do not (Chan, 2006).
  • The most likely reasons that people play video games excessively are due to either ineffective time management skills, or as a symptomatic response to other underlying problems that they are escaping from, rather than any inherent addictive properties of the actual games (Wood, 2008).
  • Online Gaming Addictions display core components of addiction such as salience, mood modification, tolerance, conflict, withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and relapse (Chappell, 2006).
  • Both novice and expert online game players are subject to time distortion and have difficulty breaking off from the game without interruption by others in the real world (Rau, 2006).
  • Video game usage may be linked to a lower GPA and SAT score (Vivek, 2007).

Again, though there are pros of controlled video playing, there is almost no denying that it can be an addictive lifestyle that can have a negative long-term impact on our children.

In todays Moments with You daily devotional (at FamilyLife.com), “X-ing the Xbox”, there is an excerpt from the book, Playstation Nation by Kurt and Olivia Bruner, which tells the story of a mom who finally had enough.  Here’s the excerpt,

She had already earned high marks for unpopularity by limiting her boys’ game time to one hour a day. But when she came in one night before bed to tell them, “Time’s up,” they wanted to “finish a level” of their game before saving their progress. So they made a fatal choice: Instead of shutting the game off, they paused it instead . . . and returned to it in the middle of the night.

When Mom woke up at 2 A.M. and noticed the light emanating from downstairs, she went ballistic at first. Then she disappeared into her bedroom and paced the floor in prayer, asking God for wisdom about how and when to strike. Finally resolved, she went in each room and began pulling plugs and boxing up every piece of game system she could find. Then—with her boys watching in horror—she opened an upstairs window in their three-story house and dropped the whole thing to the ground. Ah, the beautiful sound of smashing electronics!

Dennis Rainey (author of the devotional) then concludes:

Drastic? Yes. But one of those boys left soon after for college with seven of his buddies. Before the first semester was completed, four of the seven dropped out and returned home to take part-time jobs so that they could have more time for video gaming. For one young man, however, the addiction was gone, thanks to a parent who cared more about her children’s character than their point totals or her popularity.

If video games have taken control of your house, maybe it’s time for you, too, to bring your kids back to reality.

In the MediaFamily.org study 1/3 of parents actually participate in the games with their children.  So, it can be a time of family interaction and fun.  There are some other positive benefits of video games.  As in most things in life, the issue is one of “balance and intentionality”.  My wife and I regulated the amount of time our children were able to spend in “monitor” time (an age appropriate amount of time daily that our children could spend in front of the TV + Computer).  Nowadays you need to add in cell phone time as well.

These are not easy decisions and I wouldn’t advocate going into your child’s room and tossing their computer and gaming equipment ala Howard Beale (played by the late Peter Finch) in the 1976 movie, Network, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!’ Though it may not be clearly evident the exact steps you need to take with your children, what is or should be evident is that steps do need to be taken to ensure your kids don’t get swallowed up by the video game allure.  And, it’s much easier to implement some guidelines and boundaries earlier in their lives than later.  So, what will you do today to help your kids be wiser users of media and video games?  When will you say, “Enough is Enough”?

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I’ve been Pwned.

March 11, 2009

“Hit the A button…No Dad.  The A button!”  One of my teenage sons excitedly coaches me while the other breaks into hysterical laughter.  The instructions I heard to make the guy on this video game jump was, “Hit the A button, hold down the trigger key with your left finger, push the thumb lever to your right and scratch your nose.”  Or something like that.  Mastering a video game controller is like taking a lesson from a golf pro.  I can’t assimilate the four hundred other things I’m supposed to do after “keep your head down.”  I gave that game up too.

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