Parents Beware! How Much Do You Know About Those Video Games Your Kids Play?

Ololade Hector-Fowobaje

In this 21st century, parents are faced with modern issues that were totally unheard of about 40 years ago. Long gone, it seems, are the days of innocent childhoods.

A woman stumbled on a game her pre-teen children were playing on the family’s computer. It seemed like a normal game, but for one thing. In order for the player to get more lives, she had to have oral sex with a character (a man) in the game; simulated just like the real thing. She found out her children’s friend, whom she thought were the ‘purest’ shared the game with them. She also found out that her kids had played the same game on her phone severally and she didn’t know.

While growing up, we had Ludo, Whot, Monopoly and a privileged few had Mario Brothers and Pac Man. Girls played outdoor games like ‘ten-ten’ and the boys rolled wheels and tyres around. Today, children have a variety of gaming systems to choose from and the Mario Brothers are still a hit. Unfortunately, so are games like Grand Theft Auto, a game that allows the player to pick up a prostitute, carjack an old lady, and kill their enemies in cold blood. This game is common amongst 8-year-olds.

There’s also avatar xxx and a multitude of others which have pornography and violence content. What we have now is extreme gaming. From strip to homosexuality games, to bondage and vampire games; it is horrifying to say the least. A child only needs to check an ‘I am 18’ box to access X-rated games online. Scary! Right?

What parents today need to know is that the gaming console has to be controlled; watch the kind of games you buy for them and those they play/download online. Most games come with age rating now and you can also seek a preview of the game online before you buy them to ensure age-appropriate content. Just because their friends own a particular game doesn’t make it appropriate. Particularly for the playstation games which most children own, you need to assess age-appropriateness before you allow them in your home as they exchange games in school.

These games are also quite addictive. It wouldn’t hurt them to get up off the couch and burn off some calories with outdoor games like table-tennis, basketball and soccer. However, thanks to the new Wii console from Nintendo, video gaming is not only encouraging people to stand up and play, it is also bringing back the joy of family game night. Buy such family-friendly consoles too. Have a little healthy family competition. It not only exposes your children to family friendly games, it also gives you something to do as a family, potentially opening lines of communication and making you closer to your children. So, it is important to play with them sometimes.

Most times, parents seize their children’s consoles only when their grades begin to drop. Gaming sessions should be restricted to 2 hours on Saturdays or on holidays only, like I do with my children. They can only use their playstation on termly holidays, mid-terms and public holidays. When there are no rules, abuse is inevitable and soon enough their grades suffer.

BOTTOMLINE
Are you monitoring the games your children play? Do you buy age-appropriate games for them?  Do you have rules to prevent play addiction? We may not be able to extinguish all the threats technology is hurling at us, but we can minimize them before our kids morph into porn/sex addicts or perform poorly at school.

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