Violent video games – the parents’ view
Violent video games are fast becoming one of the most talked about subjects in the mainstream media.
Regular readers of PS3 Attitude will know that we are strongly in favour of parental control and common sense when it comes to children and video games.
The general consensus is that if a game has an age rating on it, only children of that age and above should be playing it – but is that divide always so black and white?
Should parents be allowed to judge whether or not their child can handle material which has been rated as unsuitable for their age bracket?
PS3 Attitude has invited two parents in to discuss their different views on video games.
[PS3A] Hi, Team Attitude would like to thank you for taking part. Can you introduce yourself?
[H] Hello, my name is Heather and I have two children. My eldest daughter is four years old.
[L] Hi I’m Laura and I have two children. My eldest son is six years old.
[PS3A] On average, how often is your child allowed to play video games?
[H] She plays on the PlayStation 3 about 4 hours a week. However, she will play on her Nintendo DS a lot longer when she wants too. To be honest she is always busy, running around, playing and getting into mischief.
[L] He plays roughly two to three hours a day, sometimes in the day but mostly at night.
[PS3A] What games are they allowed to play?
[H] On the PS3 she loves LittleBigPlanet, FIFA 10, SingStar, WALL-E, Flower, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, Monsters vs Aliens etc. On the DS, she loves games like Dora the Explorer, Animal Crossing, Super Mario DS and Diddy Kong Racing.
[L] He plays a wide range of games, from Crash Bandicoot, Hulk, Spiderman, Sonic, Bionic Commando, Kane and Lynch and fairytale fights.
[PS3A] Do you ever supervise your children during computer time? Or are they allowed to just get on with it?
[H] On the DS I’ll let her play what she wants, but whilst playing on the PS3 things can get a little complicated as she may need my help. This normally happens on games like LittleBigPlanet.
[L] Sometimes he’s supervised – well not supervised, but we sit and watch him and he’ll show us the levels he’s on. Sometimes we will play with him, but he’s able to play them on his own.
[PS3A] What are your opinions on violent video games? Do you feel that they are now too extreme?
[H] Personally, violent games don’t bother me as such. However, I won’t let my daughter see me playing a violent game as it’s something I don’t feel comfortable with.
[L] My opinion on violent games? They don’t bother me, and my son understands that games aren’t real. He can segregate real life to what he sees on the TV. He knows that in real life you can’t just walk out of the house and shoot somebody – in real life there are no extra lives.
[PS3A] How much do you know about the games rating system?
[H] Not a lot, but when I buy games for my daughter I will always check the age, to make sure it’s ok for her to play them. To me, the ratings system seems fairly easy to understand as it’s just like buying a DVD.
[L] I always look to see what age restrictions there are but to be honest I’m not a fan of them. Some games – like Sonic – have an age rating of twelve, where as a fighting game like Spiderman is only a PG. This makes no sense to me.
[PS3A] Do you know that consoles have a parental control feature which allows you to block age restricted games?
[H] Yes I do, but it’s not something I use as all of the games she plays are suitable for her.
[L] I know they have them, but I don’t feel I need to turn it on.
[PS3A] I guess the big question is, how would you feel if your child mimicked something that was on a violent video game? Who, in your opinion, would be responsible?
[H] First off I’d have to make sure she had copied her actions from a game rather than from something off the T.V, or at her nursery. If it was from the game then it would upset me, seeing as that she’s copying from something violent and I would probably blame myself for letting her see it. However, it’s not all about the game. There are so many things that can influence a child’s behaviour; to just blame a game wouldn’t be right.
[L] If he became seriously violent from playing a game then ultimately it is my fault, not the games. You can’t just blame a game, because if you don’t explain things to your kids then they will copy – its human nature. A child will always copy, be it from their parents or their friends but if kids are not taught right from wrong then that’s the problem.
What Team Attitude find interesting is that, although Heather and Laura have different views on games, they both come to the exact same conclusion regarding who has the overall responsibility when it comes to their children’s actions.
What is important to note, therefore, is that regardless of which side of the fence these two parents fall on, they both take the time to monitor what their children are playing and ensure they have an understanding of what is right, what is wrong, what is real and what is virtual.
Our own anecdotal evidence suggests that both Heather and Laura are, in this respect, in a small minority. This surely has to change before the demonisation of video games is written in the tomes of history, just like books, Rock ‘n’ Roll and the video nasties that came beforehand.
So, PS3 Attitude parents, what camp do you fall into? Do you follow the guidelines, or is a parent’s intuition best?