Children and Gaming

Children and Gaming

Skyrim may not be appropriate for three year-olds.

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This jives with my experience with my daughter as well. When she sees realistic violence (as opposed to situations that are clearly unreal, like most cartoons) in a game or on TV, she can't contextualize it as something that isn't real. She sees it as someone getting hurt (or killed) and it is very disturbing to her.

She's getting older now and it's less of a factor. For now, we're trying to limit her exposure to media she isn't prepared for and help her understand the context and significance of more mature material when she sees it.

This syncs up exactly with my experience with my son. He has trouble contextualizing violence that is explicit, so I keep it away from him as much as possible. Of course, things like Looney Tunes, he finds hilarious.

I also wonder if this is a case of gamer parents trying to get their kids into games too early. I'm a gamer, but I'm not going to force games on my kid. Maybe he doesn't want to game. Maybe he'll want to do something else with his time. As a parent first and a gamer second, I want to encourage him to be the type of person he best can be.

I myself was exposed to violent games as a kid. It was DOOM, and I was about 4. Though for me, I didn't care so much about the game or what I was shooting/seeing. The reason I loved playing it is because it allowed me to spend time with my dad. That game was just the best way for us to spend time together. He'd work hard, long days and come home and not have much energy, so yeah, that's where DOOM came in. Let us spend time together and have fun.

He did sit me down and lecture me about violence and all that though. Did the same thing after I started watching (and loving) the Three Stooges.

I think that if the parents are there to help the kid understand, the kid will turn out fine. But I can get behind keeping kids away from the more violent stuff. Honestly, it all depends on the kid and the parents. Situations may vary and all that.

This makes sense, but I think the possible harm can be very overstated. I remember playing a game once that I was way too young for and yes, it disturbed me because it scared me shitless. And, as children's fears often do do, it persisted vaguely for about a week before fading away.

But it didn't change me, not really. I was scared for a while, but there was no lasting harm, and even the short term fear was mild. I think the problem of such effects is only really going to be severe either if a child is disturbed like that on a regular basis or they already have some kind of mental condition. And if something is truly disturbing, I think that most children will shy away from it anyway, further reducing the risk - I know I didn't dare play that game again.

We'd say a kid watching a horror film through the crack in the door isn't ideal, but we wouldn't consider it seriously traumatising. In moderation, we don't look back on it as a week of hell and flashbacks but a good laugh and a good scare.

We got a 7 year old. And appearently he has played Mortal Kombat a few times and never shuts up about it. I don't really think that is apporerate for him. And while I don't think Skyrim is anywhere near as bad as mortal kombat, I don't really want him playing that either. Mostly because I don't think he would get it.

Mark J Kline:
Children and Gaming

Skyrim may not be appropriate for three year-olds.

Read Full Article

On the other hand, I think that video games (when parent supervision is present) could potentially be a way for children to work through the experience of some negative emotions (like frustration and anger, for instance) in a controlled environment.

I often find myself thinking of our emotional selves as analogous to our physical selves. Why do some parents, when they find a neighborhood child has chickenpox, immediately bring their child over and expose them to it? To get it out of the way early on, when a child can bounce back from it. If you instead try to shelter them from it, you might... for awhile. But any adult who's had shingles can tell you it hits a lot harder the longer you wait.

Part of our development involves developing something of an "emotional immune system." Like our actual immune system, it doesn't keep us from ever getting sick, but it increases our ability to weather the sickness when it strikes. And the earlier we build it, the better.

To build further on this analogy, there's some compelling scientific evidence that says we're seeing more and more allergies because of how sanitary our lives are. Antibacterial everything, weatherproofed homes, air filtration... Our immune systems don't get exposed to a lot of the allergens out there. While this is generally a good thing, it also means our bodies don't learn how to handle these early on. One day, wham! And you're on the floor (or at least sniffling and itching).

Obviously, most parents don't want to intentionally cause negative emotional circumstances for their children, just to "toughen them up." But there's a certain amount of moderation that could be considered. Sometimes it's better for things like this to be dealt with earlier. Kids have more time and support to help them bounce back. Kids are still under the supervision and care of their parents, so even hurt and pain are safer.

And these negative experiences are going to find them someday. The first time you're hit with hurt or anger or disappointment, you're going to act like a "child"... whether you're actually a child, or a grown adult who should know better.

So while I'm not lining up to say, "Show your kids bad things! Make your kids sad and angry!" I'm also not wishing any condemnation on parents who, under supervision, allow their kids to play games with a bit of violence in them.

(Really, I still firmly believe that overly-sexual entertainment is a far bigger problem. Sex is far easier and more open for kids to imitate than violence. It's not usually illegal. It's enjoyable to both sides. It's easier to find willing partners. And it's in everything. Seriously, kids imitating sex acts are a way bigger problem than kids imitating violence... why does that not get the same amount of attention? HINT: It's because we, as adults, really like our sex, and we don't want to have to hide it in the post-9pm time of day anymore.)

This makes me remember my own personal exp when i was 8 watching Jurassic Park.
I wanted so much to see it as a kid and my parents obliged, then again i spent most of the movie being afully scared and for weeks i had nightmares of the velociraptors and dismembered arms.
After that, i loved the velociraptors and its violence, playing in school to be those and that i ate everyone.

On a side note, when i was 8 as well, one thing that i did saw on the tv news made me traumatized forever and till this date i cant scare off that fear even when having confronting it head on countless of times.

So yeah i would say stuff can traumatize a kid or turned out to be just a play moment.
So to be safe i would not expose my kids (if i happen to have any) to that brand of violence till i belive they are ready for it.

Dastardly:

(Really, I still firmly believe that overly-sexual entertainment is a far bigger problem. Sex is far easier and more open for kids to imitate than violence. It's not usually illegal. It's enjoyable to both sides. It's easier to find willing partners. And it's in everything. Seriously, kids imitating sex acts are a way bigger problem than kids imitating violence... why does that not get the same amount of attention? HINT: It's because we, as adults, really like our sex, and we don't want to have to hide it in the post-9pm time of day anymore.)

The rest of your post was very well thought out, but I wanted to comment on this part, because it's always seemed to be the other way for me. It always seems that, while violence causes middling outrage (except for occasionally outbursts; think Manhunt 2), sex causes immediate, violent outrage. The idea outrages people so much it doesn't even need to always actually be there, think Hot Coffee and the Fox Mass Effect fiasco.

Irridium:
I myself was exposed to violent games as a kid. It was DOOM, and I was about 4. Though for me, I didn't care so much about the game or what I was shooting/seeing. The reason I loved playing it is because it allowed me to spend time with my dad. That game was just the best way for us to spend time together. He'd work hard, long days and come home and not have much energy, so yeah, that's where DOOM came in. Let us spend time together and have fun.

He did sit me down and lecture me about violence and all that though. Did the same thing after I started watching (and loving) the Three Stooges.

I think that if the parents are there to help the kid understand, the kid will turn out fine. But I can get behind keeping kids away from the more violent stuff. Honestly, it all depends on the kid and the parents. Situations may vary and all that.

That Doom argument comes up rather frequently in discussions about this, and to be honest, I think it's invalid. Yes we all played Doom as kids and we turned out fine, right? But games are way more realistic now. The pixel art in Doom is very different to the HD graphics of Skryim. You're right, though, if a parent is there and explains that it isn't real and can tell that the child understands that, it should be fine.

SL33TBL1ND:

That Doom argument comes up rather frequently in discussions about this, and to be honest, I think it's invalid. Yes we all played Doom as kids and we turned out fine, right? But games are way more realistic now. The pixel art in Doom is very different to the HD graphics of Skryim. You're right, though, if a parent is there and explains that it isn't real and can tell that the child understands that, it should be fine.

I'm not sure realism is so important. The game I'm thinking of was more recent; it's ugly as hell by today's standards but still reasonably realistic, but I'm no more shell-shocked than Doom players. I agree that realism definitely has some impact, but not so much when it comes to how much something can disturb people. The copy and paste ghost stories from the scary thread have no visual realism at all, but still leave us stuck to our screens rather than risk the darkness to reach the light switch. To use myself again - the thing that gave me can't-sleep, refuse-to-go-upstairs-alone-fear? War of the Worlds, the CD version.

But I do agree, almost nobody will mistake a cartoon for real violence, while with a modern game they could. Giving context, I guess, just becomes more important as it becomes harder to make it out just by looking at the image.

Irridium:
I myself was exposed to violent games as a kid. It was DOOM, and I was about 4. Though for me, I didn't care so much about the game or what I was shooting/seeing. The reason I loved playing it is because it allowed me to spend time with my dad. That game was just the best way for us to spend time together. He'd work hard, long days and come home and not have much energy, so yeah, that's where DOOM came in. Let us spend time together and have fun.

He did sit me down and lecture me about violence and all that though. Did the same thing after I started watching (and loving) the Three Stooges.

I think that if the parents are there to help the kid understand, the kid will turn out fine. But I can get behind keeping kids away from the more violent stuff. Honestly, it all depends on the kid and the parents. Situations may vary and all that.

I love this post. I played Doom at an early age too (even if it wasnt as early as 4...), and the horror and violence of it was extremely fascinating to me. Fast forward today, and I've never been in a fight, and I abhor violence (in real life). Video game violence is still all fun and games to me.

I envy you for having a father that spent the time to explain this. My own father was more the "this is not for kids" censorship type. And even if I respect him more than anyone else in the world, and love him dearly, I disagree with the way he raised me on this point (even though I turned out fine... :P ).

As long as parents are there to explain the situation, and perhaps censor it if they see the child cannot handle it mentally yet...I think most stuff will be quite ok. Even Doom.

As you said, what you got out of it was quality time with your dad. I find it to be a strangely beautiful story. A son and his dad. Bonding through Doom. Heh.

a very nicely though out article. i liked it more than your regular contributions. and i have to agree, in this age the childs psiche is still forming. but it is more of a parents duty to know whats right than the rating system. personally i want rating system to dissapear, because it does more harm than good. and i dont see much problems with the video, then again, im a gamer (tohugh i have to admit im a strategy gamer, so violence isnt "my thing").

Avatar Roku:
The rest of your post was very well thought out, but I wanted to comment on this part, because it's always seemed to be the other way for me. It always seems that, while violence causes middling outrage (except for occasionally outbursts; think Manhunt 2), sex causes immediate, violent outrage. The idea outrages people so much it doesn't even need to always actually be there, think Hot Coffee and the Fox Mass Effect fiasco.

When it is pornographically sexual, yes. But listen to any song on mainstream radio. What happened to innuendo anymore? There's no subtlety or sly sexual references anymore. It's just flat out sex-sex-sex. And when it's not sex, it's pre-sex.

Why do we do it? Because sex sells. To adults. But billboards and commercials and the internet don't have "after hours." So the kids are bombarded by it. Now, I'm no idiot--kids are naturally, as humans, curious about sex. But holy hell, that doesn't mean we have to feed that with adult food. We bombard them with misinformation faster than we can get them good information, and wonder why all our fourth graders know what blowjobs are.

It's just my personal axe to grind, I know. I see adults that want a product, and they want that product hot-fast-now, and they don't seem to care that it's leaking into everything else. There's no consideration for the long-term side effects of sexualizing everything around our kids.

Look at Disney's child-grinding-machine. It's not enough that Hannah Montana is a talented young singer, she's not "famous" and "loved" until she dresses up, puts on make-up, and gets all "pretty." You teach a young girl so early to trade on her looks, and then she becomes an adult... where being "pretty" ain't enough to set you apart, so "pretty" has to graduate to "sexy" in order to feed that attention addiction we've created in her.

I work with kids every day who are right in the "collateral damage zone" for all this broad sexual marketing. If you were to ask me which is more destructive, especially to middle- and high-school girls (the way they "learn" to act, and the way the boys "learn" to treat them), it's too much sex in entertainment, not violence.

LordFisheh:

SL33TBL1ND:

That Doom argument comes up rather frequently in discussions about this, and to be honest, I think it's invalid. Yes we all played Doom as kids and we turned out fine, right? But games are way more realistic now. The pixel art in Doom is very different to the HD graphics of Skryim. You're right, though, if a parent is there and explains that it isn't real and can tell that the child understands that, it should be fine.

I'm not sure realism is so important. The game I'm thinking of was more recent; it's ugly as hell by today's standards but still reasonably realistic

And that's where you dropped the ball. "Ugly as hell by today's standards" is not what I'm talking about. Ugly as hell is not a problem, it's easy to tell the difference between it and reality. But today's video games are very realistic, this has been said about games in the past, sure. But come on, we are pretty damn close to photo-realism now. They are very good looking, so it would be difficult for a child of 3 to tell the difference.

SL33TBL1ND:

Irridium:
I myself was exposed to violent games as a kid. It was DOOM, and I was about 4. Though for me, I didn't care so much about the game or what I was shooting/seeing. The reason I loved playing it is because it allowed me to spend time with my dad. That game was just the best way for us to spend time together. He'd work hard, long days and come home and not have much energy, so yeah, that's where DOOM came in. Let us spend time together and have fun.

He did sit me down and lecture me about violence and all that though. Did the same thing after I started watching (and loving) the Three Stooges.

I think that if the parents are there to help the kid understand, the kid will turn out fine. But I can get behind keeping kids away from the more violent stuff. Honestly, it all depends on the kid and the parents. Situations may vary and all that.

That Doom argument comes up rather frequently in discussions about this, and to be honest, I think it's invalid. Yes we all played Doom as kids and we turned out fine, right? But games are way more realistic now. The pixel art in Doom is very different to the HD graphics of Skryim. You're right, though, if a parent is there and explains that it isn't real and can tell that the child understands that, it should be fine.

Back then DOOM was the most realistic-looking game I've ever seen. First time I saw it I thought it was some sort of movie.

Dastardly:

Avatar Roku:
The rest of your post was very well thought out, but I wanted to comment on this part, because it's always seemed to be the other way for me. It always seems that, while violence causes middling outrage (except for occasionally outbursts; think Manhunt 2), sex causes immediate, violent outrage. The idea outrages people so much it doesn't even need to always actually be there, think Hot Coffee and the Fox Mass Effect fiasco.

When it is pornographically sexual, yes. But listen to any song on mainstream radio. What happened to innuendo anymore? There's no subtlety or sly sexual references anymore. It's just flat out sex-sex-sex. And when it's not sex, it's pre-sex.

Why do we do it? Because sex sells. To adults. But billboards and commercials and the internet don't have "after hours." So the kids are bombarded by it. Now, I'm no idiot--kids are naturally, as humans, curious about sex. But holy hell, that doesn't mean we have to feed that with adult food. We bombard them with misinformation faster than we can get them good information, and wonder why all our fourth graders know what blowjobs are.

It's just my personal axe to grind, I know. I see adults that want a product, and they want that product hot-fast-now, and they don't seem to care that it's leaking into everything else. There's no consideration for the long-term side effects of sexualizing everything around our kids.

Look at Disney's child-grinding-machine. It's not enough that Hannah Montana is a talented young singer, she's not "famous" and "loved" until she dresses up, puts on make-up, and gets all "pretty." You teach a young girl so early to trade on her looks, and then she becomes an adult... where being "pretty" ain't enough to set you apart, so "pretty" has to graduate to "sexy" in order to feed that attention addiction we've created in her.

I work with kids every day who are right in the "collateral damage zone" for all this broad sexual marketing. If you were to ask me which is more destructive, especially to middle- and high-school girls (the way they "learn" to act, and the way the boys "learn" to treat them), it's too much sex in entertainment, not violence.

Ok, that makes a LOT more sense. I suppose I kinda missed your point the first time.

Irridium:

SL33TBL1ND:

Irridium:
I myself was exposed to violent games as a kid. It was DOOM, and I was about 4. Though for me, I didn't care so much about the game or what I was shooting/seeing. The reason I loved playing it is because it allowed me to spend time with my dad. That game was just the best way for us to spend time together. He'd work hard, long days and come home and not have much energy, so yeah, that's where DOOM came in. Let us spend time together and have fun.

He did sit me down and lecture me about violence and all that though. Did the same thing after I started watching (and loving) the Three Stooges.

I think that if the parents are there to help the kid understand, the kid will turn out fine. But I can get behind keeping kids away from the more violent stuff. Honestly, it all depends on the kid and the parents. Situations may vary and all that.

That Doom argument comes up rather frequently in discussions about this, and to be honest, I think it's invalid. Yes we all played Doom as kids and we turned out fine, right? But games are way more realistic now. The pixel art in Doom is very different to the HD graphics of Skryim. You're right, though, if a parent is there and explains that it isn't real and can tell that the child understands that, it should be fine.

Back then DOOM was the most realistic-looking game I've ever seen. First time I saw it I thought it was some sort of movie.

And when we discovered fire it was the most technologically advanced thing we'd ever seen. Do we count it as that now? Of course not. There's a difference between pixel art and HD graphics. It doesn't matter if something was the most realistic of its time if it wasn't actually realistic. One of those things is relative, the other is not.

We are damn close to photo-realism now, don't tell me that doesn't count for anything.

 

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