Parenting is not supposed to be easy. Parenting is not supposed to be glamorous. Parenthood is supposed to challenge us, push us to our breaking point and test every ounce of our patience. Kids are kids. They will be awesome, hellions, adorable and pain in the butts. As parents, it is our job to embrace it all, enjoy the roller-coaster ride and happily cry when our babies grow up and have children of their own.
Parenting is also a major responsibility; one that requires you to actually parent your children.
Children need boundaries, rules and bold lines drawn into the sand when it comes to your expectations. Children need guidance to keep them on the right path toward life long goals and success. Children need discipline when they act up, hugs when they are sad and most importantly, children need to hear the word no.
Our society has become one based around excuses. Many now lack the ability to own their behaviors. Many now lack the knowledge of what responsibility is, how to function with those around them and expect everything handed to them on a silver platter the minute they demand it. This lackadaisical attitude has quietly infiltrated our mindsets and turned us into a narrow-minded, indifferent society of people who excuse away bad behavior, always blaming others for their actions.
Violent rampages and mass shooting now dominate our country’s media. But instead of demanding those individuals-usually young adult males-to take ownership of their horrific behavior, we have allowed these people to excuse away their violent acts as a side effect of playing video games.
News flash: video games are not boogeyman-like creatures ordering their players to commit horrible, heinous acts on others. Video games are simulated games. A fantasy world of pixelated images which can be controlled and manipulated by pushing buttons on a controller. As parents, and as the (most of the time) buyer of these consoles and games, it is YOUR responsibility to know your child, their mindset and ability to understand reality from game play. If your child-no matter how young or old-is not mentally and emotionally mature enough to differentiate reality from fantasy, it is your responsibility to say no and not allow your child to play these games.
Video game violence is not a new concept. It has been and will continue to be a predominant feature in gaming. What has changed and will continue to change is the culture that surrounds these first person shooter games. Video games don’t kill and injure innocent people, neighbors, relatives and friends. People-our emotionally immature children-are the ones who are killing, injuring and scaring the innocent. And your lack of parental judgement is aiding this violent behavior.
All children are different. Like any parenting decision, allowing your child to play games such as Call of Duty, Battlefield and/or Assassins Creed is a case by case, child by child basis. Just like you wouldn’t hand a vodka and OJ to your underage teenager, you don’t hand over a violent video game to your child if you feel he or she is not mature enough to handle the content. You know your child better than anyone else. You know if there is something off. You know if their emotional state can handle differentiating shooting a pixelated image from shooting a real-life human being. It is your responsibility to be a parent to your child by protecting them from what they are not yet able to fully understand.
Sadly, parental judgement by some has fallen to the wayside. Telling a child no has become a thing of the past. Parenting has turned into a who can top the Smith’s, handing children technology, information and video games because the neighbors allow their kids to have it/play it.
As the 24/7 media focuses (rightfully so) on the widespread violence sweeping through each of our neighborhoods, our culture has become quick to lay blame not on those responsible but on those things we hand over to our children without a care. Hindsight becomes a major bitch when violence occurs. We question the lack of parenting after a horrific incident rather than before. We question why a child/young adult was allowed to play certain games. We question why real guns were given to those who were obviously not mature or mentally able to fully understand their power and the ramifications of using such things. We blame video game companies for promoting a culture of violence, forgetting that violence has been part of the American culture long before video games.
Our teens play video games. They play, aware of the ground rules boldly set when they received the consoles and the individual games. They have been taught to understand that these games are make believe; that you do not respawn in life when fatally wounded; that violence towards others is not cool, funny nor tolerated; that any inappropriate talk about these games (and their violence) is not an acceptable behavior and if heard/seen, will be taken away. These ground rules are constantly reiterated by us. These ground rules have never been crossed or challenged by our teens.
Our teens have also been told no when it comes to certain games (such as Grand Theft Auto). They were not happy. They tried using the excuse all of our friends play it, it’s not that bad. They heard we don’t care what your friends are doing from us. As parents, we parented our kids, dealt with their unhappiness and eventually, the hype of wanting the certain game died off and all was well.
Blaming video games for the lack of parental judgement, personal responsibility and unwillingness to address the underlying societal issue has allowed violence to thrive in our country. America is not the only country where a video gaming culture is prevalent. Yet America is the only society where gun violence and mass shootings is a constant, almost expected reality.
It’s time we as parents step up to the parenting plate and raise our children in a responsible manner. Children need to hear the word no. Children need to know that there are consequences to both negative and positive behavior. Children need to know that their actions and behaviors cannot be excused away and blamed on anyone and anything other than themselves. Parent your children. Use your parental judgement, even if it goes against the norm.