Thursday, July 26, 2012

Video Games will rot your brain and other bullshit my Parents told me, that turned out to be true…

When I was a child, Video Gaming was not allowed in our house, unless it was Wolftenstein, and that’s only because Dad had a minor addiction to it, after he discovered it preloaded into the computer…and could no longer contain his fascination with it until the hours of when we were asleep and therefore could no longer deny its existence…. but other than Wolftenstein…. Video games are not OK because they will rot your brain.

I begged to differ on this for many a reason, and some of it I stand by... I mean, really… How Harmful is a little Tetris?
Tetris has seen me well equipped to stack large dishwasher loads into one time saving, not to mention water saving load, also to fit the grocery shopping in around the pram.

I also, took exception to the lack of access to Pac Man.
I found it to be slightly neglectful, that you would move us to a town that claims to be one of the most haunted places in Australia, without prior Pac Man experience... How were we supposed to know to run away from ghosts??  IT WAS THE EIGHTIES FOR CRYING OUT PETES SAKE!!! Who survived the eighties without Pac-man?!??

And whilst I firmly stand by the arguments of the eighties, I tend to agree with them a little more now... you know when it’s MY kid’s brains that could be rotting.

I am currently in a battle with my boys in regard to gaming time. At current, it is allowed between Friday to Sunday.
With the exception of the school holidays, Monday through till Thursday are game free. The problem with that is, that I have somehow made game time golden idol... By mastering the gaming time I have created a monster.

Instead of playing the game for a few hours throughout the week, Friday afternoons are met with a flurry of chores and scoffing down something to eat before retiring to their room for game time... in which they try to stay, till Sunday.

Every now and again I get a sudden chill at the silence and remember that the boys are on the game… still… and I will prod them off with a wooden broom handle and send them outside, or to draw.. Or whatever... go do something else….
And they will. For about fifteen, minutes...Maybe an hour… Then  they will trudge back again with various passive aggressive statements about being  Soooo undesirably bored and there couldn’t possibly be anything for such extreme boredom as this, other than gaming… or they will periodically request an exact time for when gaming can resume again.. And then requests for constant time keeping of when gaming can resume.

I admit that it is really easy to lose track of gaming time.

My main concerns are not that they are spending too much time sitting, looking at a screen, I know they get plenty of exercise; it’s what they are staring at that bothers me.

Like my parents, I have a slightly out dated view on what is seen to be an acceptable level of violence.
Master eight has a no realistic violence policy, I’m not talking any violence, but could we limit it to cartoon type violence. The Loony tunes were pretty violent, but I don’t hear any report about people going around dropping Acme anvils on people.

He has a nerf gun... it’s all good, but his older brother, whom is thirteen, has a variety of killing inspired games, of which I ‘had’ a blanket ban.

Master 8 is steadily building an obsession with these, much like all little brothers, he idolises the teen.

The problem with blanket bans is that they cannot be forever, and when your thirteen year old son saves mowing money and car wash money and birthday money until he has enough to buy the same game all of his mates have, it’s a little hard to keep that ban.

I cannot tell him that if he saves up, and works really hard, that he can get anything, but not what it is you are saving up and working hard for. Believe me, I am a control freak and I’ve tried.

So here’s the thing… just how many hours a day should one spend shooting people in the virtual head?

What about shooting people in the realistic head, with your realistic gun with realistic consequences to those gun shots, and what if those realistic heads that you are shooting are controlled by your friends, who’s voices and reactions you can hear in your virtual headphones?

What if when your weapon runs out of ammo and you can’t get to anymore because one of your friends will shoot you in the head, you can stab people instead?

I can tell you that some of the images on the screen of my son have left me a little confronted. ME.

He laughs at this stuff, and jokes around with his friends about it! I’m pretty sure that’s desensitisation right there...
Acting violently, especially toward friends, even in a virtual setting is not something one is made to be desensitised to.

I don’t so much notice a change in their behaviour when they are allowed to play the game, however I do notice a change in the way they wake up the next day, they always wake exhausted and moody.
What is it that their little brains are processing when they are asleep, that they wake exhausted? Is it these images?

To date I have used the excuse that “All of their friends are doing it” But lately that excuse seems lame, This kind of excess game play and more so the obsession with this kind of game play, sits very uncomfortably with me, I am going to be dramatic for a second.. I don’t want to be raising the next generation of serial killers, it doesn’t make it OK just because all of their friends will be serial killers too.

I warned you that I was being dramatic, and I am certainly not saying that all children exposed to violent gaming will become serial killers, but I do know that there is a steady increase of violence in the news, steady increases in individuals unable to separate fantasy from reality…Are these things related? It’s not a risk I feel comfortable in taking.

I have reseached this a little, and by a little, I mean that I had to stop reading, because what I did read terrified me.

After discussing this with Cabbage, we have decided to remove all gaming consoles, after this weekend, for a period of time, and I am not going to lie, it is going to suck.

 It is going to call on all of our parenting patience, for which I admit, I have very little of at times, but we are going to do it. I have to stop relying on game time to be a babysitter while I quickly do this, or write that. I dont want my children babysat by a gun weilding maniac, its common sense.

Gaming has its place and I am certainly not saying that gaming will be banned forever, but when it is reintroduced, pending the obsession dying down, realistic violence will be out.

I'm going to be "That" mum. I'm sorry kids I really am.

I am trying to play devil’s advocate as much as I can with this, I can’t shelter my children from all horror and violence, but there is a vast difference in watching the occasional horror film and bombarding a developing brain with several hours of very violent and graphic imagery a day.

Parenting is a tough gig, I dont have all of the answers, but if I have learned one thing from this parenting gig, its go with your gut.. My gut is telling me that this kind of gaming is very wrong to growing brains.

Wish me luck; I am really going to need it.

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