When’s the perfect time to introduce kids to volatile, highly emotional gaming? When they’re ready.
[Nearly] every parent faces a question thought unimaginable with past generations. When should my child learn to slaughter other people–albeit virtually–online? Game franchises like Battlefield, Call Of Duty, Tom Clancey (RIP) and a host of others including Gears of War, Metal Gear Solid, BioShock and Halo all contain adult-themed video game experiences that are at best inappropriate to young minds, especially under the age of 11 or 12.
I speak from experience.
I remember my boys were aged 6 and 8 years old when I put the controller in their hands to begin taking down alien baddies in games like Halo. What’s the harm right? They’re ugly, dog-faced savages that growl and spew blue blood (not the affluent cape cod estate kind of blue blood, but) they actually sprayed blue hemoglobin when shot between the eyes. What could be the harm be in that?
Turns out, a lot.
At age six, my twin boys began to show increased aggressive tendencies (should of seen that one coming) and began having minor but persistent nightmares. Even while playing the games they would get audibly loud and severely agitated at anything that would not go their way.
So was I a bad parent for subjecting these young minds to this kind of animated violence? Probably. Make no bones about it, we went to parks, played in backyards and pools, went to (kids) movies and played board games, rode bike and the whole nine. I sincerely wanted my kids to enjoy gaming like I did, but they just weren’t ready for what I was introducing to them.
My kids are well (enough) adjusted these days but I would say this; when it comes to introducing kids to more violent video games, the later the better. A tough prospect for a gamer-dad, but a necessary one. Each parent has to decide for themselves. Your kids will hit you with all the classics; “Dad it’ll be fine it’s just a game” or “I already played it (which IMMEDIATELY should become another conversation) and my favorite; “All my friends are all playing it already!” So what? If I was their Dad I would ban them from playing it, too.
Technology plays such a critical role in the lives of our kids’ generation, way more so than in mine. Its a necessary evil. Just remember, you’re in control of the controller, making you the ultimate level boss.
Arthur Milano (Gamertag Arth Vader) can be found on the XBOX LIVE & Playstation Plus networks. He is a hopelessly addicted gamer, writer, designer, artist, movie reviewer and most importantly, father of four. He can be frequently found sharing thoughts on parenting, gaming, career and work-life balance on blogs like New Dadventures, writing Sci-Fi movie reviews at the Boxed Office and co-hosts a parenting video-game podcast and blog called Controller Issues.