26 Oct
What to do about violent video games

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My husband and I limit our son’s exposure to violent video games, but I know he plays them when he goes to his friend’s house. How should I go about asking the parents who host the play date to not expose my kid to it without coming across like a control freak?

Signed,

Apache Helicopter Mom

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Dear Apache Helicopter Mom,

First of all, if your son is old enough to have friends who play violent video games, he probably wouldn’t want you to call it a play date. It’s called “hanging out.” Geez. Whatevs. [Exaggerated eyeroll]

I hate to break it to you, but the parents hosting the hang out will not only think you’re a control freak, they will also likely take offense to what they perceive as your judgment of them as bad parents for letting their kid play those violent video games. The fact is (and trust me, as the parent of an 11 year old boy, I am struggling to come to grips with this myself), as our children get older, we have less and less control over what they do when they are out of our supervision. It sucks, doesn’t it? Want to be even more horrified? Today it’s violent video games, and tomorrow it will be his first glimpse of internet porn when he’s over at his friend’s house. AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

I suggest having frequent one on one conversations with your son, letting him know specifically what it is that you think is awful about the violent video games, asking him how he feels when he plays them, what he finds fun about them, and telling him that you would really rather not he play them at all. Tell him that you know you can’t control everything he does, but that you hope that he will make good decisions when you’re not around. You could try and limit his time with this friend, but I think any kind of ban tends to backfire on us.

There is also the less sanctioned passive-aggressive route, in which you casually mention to the kid’s mom that you overheard her son telling yours how excited he gets every time he kills someone when he plays that game. All depends on how comfortable you are with subterfuge.

Bang bang!

Karen, TMH

7 Responses to “What to do about violent video games”

10.26.12#1

Comment by Jeni.

I agree, Karen. My son is eight, and while he doesn’t like or play violent games, he does have a bit of a Minecraft obsession.

I worry about him having a future of peeing in empty pop bottles and not eating for days, glued to a bean bag “gaming chair” as a computer screen glares back into what used to be his shining brown eyes.

As for subterfuge, They don’t call me “Ole Subby” for nothing.

Karen Reply:

OMG, my son is newly addicted to Minecraft, too! He and our neighbor’s sit on the couch practically on top of each other playing it together.

Jeni Reply:

Yes. I now host the most silent “playdates” ever.

Three boys, no noise? I can see my anti-gaming resolve wavering already.

Kim Reply:

The good news about Minecraft is it actually is a bit educational. Spacial reasoning and problem solving.

10.26.12#2

Comment by sonirox.

I SO relate to this! My son started doing the same thing at 11, but he was sneakier – he suddenly became “friends” with a boy named Gus. Came to find out that the only reason he was friends with Gus was so he could play M-rated games at his house! In that case, I knew the mom would not/did not care, so I just made sure that my son was too busy to go to Gus’s house whenever he asked and eventually, he stopped asking to go. Now he is 13 and plays plenty of those types of games, but we do regularly discuss it. I think for boys, especially, it is a better outlet for their anger and frustration than, say, punching someone. Definitely keep limits on it, though. Hope this helps!

10.26.12#3

Comment by suburbancorrespondent.

I think the answer really depends on the age of the child (which isn’t mentioned). Not much you can do about teens, obviously, aside from what Karen suggests. But, if you’re talking about a kid who is 12 or under, it is definitely reasonable – nay, advisable – to tell the parent that violent video games are off-limits. There are a ton of other electronic-type things the boys can do – Wii, for instance.

Also (and more importantly), this mom does have to get used to being obnoxious. With teens, you HAVE to ask the hosting parents of a party, say, exactly who will be in charge and what activities will be allowed. You can’t just send your kid over there and assume that the parents will ensure that there will be no alcohol, drugs, or sex. You WOULD NOT BELIEVE how stupid/naive some parents are.

People who host co-ed sleepovers, I’m looking at YOU.

Ester Jean Reply:

agreed. Worrying that another parent will find you “annoying” is the most ridiculous reason to do bad parenting.

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