Help Me Help You Hate Your Children
Do you hear muffled shouting buzzing through the walls of your child’s room? Do you identify their continued safety by the light of the television shining from the crack underneath their door, or the steady thrum of gunfire blaring out of their speakers? Is your interaction with them limited to requests for snacks and screams when you pry the controller from their hands? Chances are your kid is an asshole.
Now before you clamber from the chair you’ve made out of your neglected piles of books on child-rearing in protest, listen to what I have to say. I like kids. Who doesn’t? Statistically we have to like kids, they are our future. However, kids are not good people. They’re selfish, rude, tiny little soft-headed schemers who rely on us to tell them what they can and cannot put in their mouths. You think that the older they get the less you have to help them not die, but it’s the opposite. The older they get the easier it is to find new and exciting ways to piss people off.
A lot of parents don’t seem to understand the impact of videogames in today’s modern age. As an industry that’s quickly surpassing film, videogames have created a new, confusing culture with a strong, varied community. Children can’t face this exciting new world on their own – they’re thrown straight into the thick of it from the start, with no real scope on social etiquettes or the joys of playing in silence. They think that in the safety of their room with no one physically around them they can swear and scream and explain in detail the numerous times they’ve had sex with my mother.
Experience gaming with your children. I know it’s easy to throw games at your kids in order to buy several hours of solitude, but you’re just inviting their inevitable social decline. When you buy a game for your child really look at it. If you think the content is something that they might have trouble grasping then sit down, boot it up and play it with them for a while. See how they react, witness the gentle bend of their knees as they teabag their opponent, and quickly yet calmly teach them the benefits of being a respectable human being. You never know, you might just learn something about your child and about yourself.
Games are a great bonding experience and a great way to discover where you child picked up those colourful new words. Pay close attention to their fevered eyes, their sweaty palms and their gritted teeth as they shoot down their seventh prostitute and get ready, because this is where you jump in. Give yourself a few minutes for the shock to work its way out of your system, then gently pull the controller out of their hands and pause the game. If they haven’t launched at you in a sudden rage, then there’s still hope.
It’s not about the type of game they’re playing, it’s the way they perceive the content of the game. If they go into a game with no indication of how they’re supposed to interact within the context of the game, then they’re going to be confused and create their own misinformed judgements. You have to be the one to help them understand the transition of what is acceptable in the virtual world and how this translates into a real world context.
Better yet, don’t buy your seven year old kid a game with an MA15+ rating. The number of parents preaching the sanctity of children’s mental health being blemished by videogames always tend to set the example of their young child playing a game like Call of Duty: Black Ops. Games are rated for a reason, treat them like you would any other rating and apply them directly to your child. Kids are influenced by what you tell them is acceptable, and if you’re buying them games without understanding their content, then don’t be surprised when they associate those games with reality.
Videogames are a completely immersive experience and you have to do your part in understanding the impact of these experiences on your child. As Graham Nash sang: “Teach your children well” before I bust out the plasma grenades and teach them for you.