Sunday, March 9, 2014

No Devices or Video Games for kids under 12?

editorial by Mary Heston

Once again the discussion of violent video games has emerged in popular publications but this time it is even more extreme.  In this article they are not only saying that children should not play violent video games (which I agree with) but that they shouldn't play video games at all (which I TOTALLY disagree with).


There are areas that we can agree with.  I don't think that children under the age of two need to play video games, use handheld devices or even handle Mommies cell phone.  

But after that we begin to diverge in opinion.

The article says that children under 12 should never play video games of any kind.

This is something that I do not agree with.

In the past couple days there have been great articles posted about the need of military families to be able to get back to normal when a father / mother return from active duty.  Sometimes playing a video game together with their child is the best way for that parent to reconnect with their child.

Read Military Dads have to re-learn parenting skills after deployment

There have also been great studies out there about the importance of the male role model in a young girls life and that girls that play video games with their fathers end up being safer online and doing better in school.  Taking away this element of Father / Daughter bonding would be a detriment in my opinion.  Sure you could encourage the Daddy / Daughter time to consist of card games or other offline activities but in an era when we are in dire need of encouraging women to go into technical studies this is no time to take their technology away from them.

The HuffPo article also falls back on the old argument that violent media causes agression. While this may seem intuitively sound and most of this research is based on televsion and movie media, the exact opposite has been proven to be the case in regards to violent video games.

In an article from the Economist called "Chasing the Dream" there is a fantastic graph from the Dept. of Justice showing a direct correlation between the increase in video game sales and the decrease in teen violence.

There are many who say that there is proof that violent video games cause violence because the young men who have committed unspeakable violence in school or theater shootings also played violent video games.  In an article in Psych Central in Aug 2013 In New Study, Video Games Not Tied to Violence in High-Risk Youth Rick Nauert, PhD quotes Dr. Christopher Ferguson who said "“Statistically speaking, it would actually be more unusual if a youth delinquent or shooter did not play violent video games, given that the majority of youth and young men play such games at least occasionally.”

The article in the Huffington Post provides us with a provocative headline and an extreme solution to the wrong cause of a problem we hope to solve.  We all want a better world for our children but perhaps there is a simpler solution.  Perhaps instead of keeping our kids from playing video games we should ban all parents from telling their sons to "Be a Man" or "Man Up".  This may do more for our children than removing all video games until the age of 12 and trying to convince our 17 year olds that that they should limit their nonviolent video game play to 30 minutes a day.

Yes we want to be proactive and give our children the best possible chance of a long, healthy, and productive life.  But taking away their technology may not be the best solution.  In fact, it may actually be a detriment to them.

There are so many aspects of the HuffPo article that need to be addressed.  We will continue this in the next post.  


Digital Dementia - same argument used in the 70's when Sesame Street became popular.

Sleep Deprivation - a problem solved by charging devices at night but not by taking them away during the day.

Obesity - sedentary lifestyles are a problem solved by better role modeling by parents and better food choices.  Children will eat something besides chicken nuggets.

Children playing violent video games - The ESRB does an excellent job of rating our video games.  Use those ratings.

To be continued...

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