Why aren’t video games a no-brainer for parents? My eight-year-old asked the other day why we don’t allow game systems in our home. Apparently he is the only person in his class (at a fairly conservative Catholic school) that doesn’t have an Xbox, Playstation, or Wii.
According to this article, 3 in 5 homes have game consoles. In my experience, the rate for households with children is much higher.
Why don’t parents realize how damaging this is to their children? As I told my son:
- Video Games Can Be Addictive
Video games are designed to suck you in and keep you playing until you beat the game or hit a wall beyond which your natural abilities won’t take you. At that point, to feed the addiction, you’ll need the next game in the series. This addiction is real. In 2009, 8.5% of kids were found to be addicted to video games.
- Many of the Most Popular Games are Morally Questionable, at Best
This is a well-hashed topic. Many games are over-sexualized or packed with violence to appeal to their target demographic: 18 to 30 year old men.
- Video Games Set Our Kids up for a Permanent Adolescence
As just noted, The target market for video games is adult men. As men, it is hard for us to grow up. Part of us wants to stay in adolescence forever. The alcohol industry, the entertainment industry, and the video game industry all have a huge economic incentive to keep us overgrown children. I don’t want to set up my sons with such a handicap.
- When the Game is On, the Brain is Off
Oh sure, there are exceptions. But those are exceptions that prove the rule. Most video games are mind-numbing contests to hone a particular – otherwise useless – reflex to the point where you can tweak the game controller in just the right way to win the game.
Are they fun? Sure. And playing the occasional game online or at the arcade isn’t harmful. But dropping hundreds of dollars on a console that is obsolete in a year, and up to fifty dollars on a game that is mastered in a short time, leads one to feeling that the game must be played, like TV must be watched, for hours on end, every day. With TV, movies, video games, and the internet all demanding our children’s time, where is the time for learning, for exercise, for family, and for God?
Why isn’t this a no-brainer? Why do parents feel they have to buy these things?