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Should we let kids play video games?

The question of whether we should allow our kids to play video games above their age rating is a difficult one. Here Ben gives his thoughts on the subject.



Ben says…

It should be simple really. PEGI give a game a legally-enforceable rating; parents read the rating; parents forbid their child from playing. Problem solved! Any parent who lets their child have access to titles above their age is clearly not doing their job, right? Sure. Uh huh.

Cast your mind back to when you were a kid, how – if you wanted to watch something your parents wouldn’t let you – there was always a way around. You could find a friend with an older sibling or you would weave the world’s most convincing argument as to why you should be allowed to do something. If push came to shove, you could always wheel out the classic ‘But all my friends have seen it..!’

And this is the ultimate dilemma when it comes to gaming. It’s no longer niche, it’s big business, and the latest blockbuster games have a larger advertising budget than most movies. You’d expect nothing less of a multi-billion dollar industry that lives by the sales of its products. Kids and teens are bombarded with high quality advertising of games that they can’t have, but they want.

EGX, video games, expo, Call of Duty, stand, queue

Trust me, you want the absolute best for your children; and when they’re coming at you explaining that if they don’t have Call of Duty they’ll be a social pariah at school, the mind starts to question its judgement. Surely these games can’t be that bad? What if I let them play this one, the one their friends are playing? The parents of those kids must think its ok. And if my child is telling me there’s a way to disable all the violence, swearing and gore in the title then they must be telling the truth so…

It’s not easy.

There isn’t a straight forward answer either. Like all parenting decisions it depends on more factors than initially meets the eye. Emotional age of the children must surely by one of the principal considerations, as will be parenting style and understanding of the medium. I know I’m in a fortunate position in that I’ve much more exposure to the type and nature of the video gaming world than other parents of my generation, but it still doesn’t stop me from having to make more and more judgement calls as my kids grow older.

Education is key. Video games are markedly different now than when my generation were young and I know there are many 30- to 50-year-olds who don’t quite appreciate how the medium has evolved. Getting parents interested and able to talk to their kids frankly and openly about what they want to play is vital. These games have PEGI ratings for a reason, and the medium is so huge now that there is always an alternative.

A parent will know if their 16-year-old child is ready to handle an 18-certified game.

This leads on to understanding children and teenagers react to games. They all play them differently and enjoy different aspects. A parent will know if their 16-year-old child is ready to handle an 18-certified game – and let’s be honest, they will end up playing them one way or another. Better to be open about it than not, at least in my opinion.

Ultimately, video games are just one of many thousands of challenges facing a parent these days. Some will put their foot down, some won’t. Some will try to strike a balance between the two extremes. Should kids play adult games? Your call.

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4 thoughts on “Should we let kids play video games?”

  1. I think parents should be more involved with gaming. Read up on it, play the games etc. I let my 10 year old play co op Star Wars battlefront with me, I don’t really understand the 15 age rating on that game. However she’s well too young for multiplayer.
    I’ve let her drive a car around in GTA V in a closed lobby, she had a lot of fun just driving around, putting clothes on her character etc. She never played the campaign, or multiplayer obviously because they are truly 18 certificate worthy. She never games alone I’m always with her. It was funny though because she went to school and some police officer was there and asked kids to raise their hands if they had played GTA V. I had a letter home about the damage it would cause her being exposed to such an awful game. It would cause her damage to see the entire game but they didn’t understand that you can drive a car around in a closed lobby or go parachuting without being violent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly my point. Education of parents, teachers and those in positions of authority is key.

      I’ve let my son play Battlefront too. He absolutely loves it. Always with me and always supervised though.

      I know he’d love GTA but my fear is that even in a closed lobby there’s still the guns/swearing etc from NPCs which prevents me from exposing him to it.

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      1. No guns unless they know how to select it, my kid didn’t. Swearing isn’t an issue for me, just because I live in a horrible area, I’ve taught her to not pay any attention to people who swear, so it becomes unintelligible noise. I never swear, and can’t stand swearing, but my kid hears it everyday. She’s never sworn, ever. So I guess it’s working lol.
        She spent the entire time in GTA obeying traffic lights, and just driving around that teeny tiny car and parachuting.
        As with going outside, when she’s old enough to to that by herself, that’s when I’ll start letting her play more games and use social aspects by herself. There’s still no way I’d let her play a game if I hadn’t played it, or understood it first.
        I was in ASDA a while back, and there was a 6 year old boy bullying his grandma into buying GTA V for christmas, and she bought it. The thought of that kid playing single player by himself, makes me sick.

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