Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« In Advance of Tonight's Projec... | American Nails »

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Re: Reading Tonight

posted by on July 30 at 12:42 PM


(Paul, I’ll assume you were referring to me, not Annie.)

Probably wouldn’t be so illuminating to attend tonight’s reading of Video Games & Your Kids. Let’s take a look at the book’s description on an anonymous Internet retailer’s site:

Other [gamers] have grown so dependent on these games that they are abandoning their lives to pursue this activity, which they seem to prefer above all others. Video Games & Your Kids: How Parents Stay in Control is for parents who are worried that their children may be spending too much time playing video games.

When we get past the cloud of parents throwing their arms up and crying their eyes out—the thick cloud that apparently necessitates hundreds of pages in this book—there’s an easy question that follows. How are kids and teens getting their hands on video games? Up until roughly the age of 14, the answer is almost universally that they’re purchased by parents and family members—or enabled by rich parents who give ridiculous allowances. And by 15, when a kid can get his/her own job and start racking up enough to buy hundreds of dollars of games systems, parents still have a responsibility in teaching their kids to spend/save/invest wisely. I’ll agree with these authors that gaming impacts kids in ways different than a lot of other habits, but that doesn’t change the issue of a swingin’ gate at the homestead. Parents “stay in control” by—whoa now—asserting control in the first place.

Really, the stupidity of this kind of cash-in book is most apparent when you tweak the title; try “Music & Your Kids” or “Movies & Your Kids.” Those would be boring books, and for good fucking reason. But let’s say the wheels have rolled off and your kid’s a total 1337 asshole. Solution? Euthanasia Shut off your home Internet service. Online gaming can be so unbelievably bad for a growing kid—and don’t let him/her BS you into thinking they’re building teamwork skills while growing a WoW guild or leading a Capture the Flag team in Call of Duty 4. They’re just learning creative ways to combine the words nigger, fag, and Jew.

Gaming has its ups and downs for kids—creative, exploratory games like Zelda that encourage map-making, puzzle-solving, and general whimsy; and adult/immature fare that encourages killing dudes in a straight line. Either way, a kid with their head screwed-on straight can usually cipher out fantasy from reality and come out as unscathed as, say, watching violence on TV. But invite that kid to persistent online games, and you’ve combined the visceral glee of a game with the hyperized social atmosphere of an anonymous Internet. I’m not entirely against kids socializing with strangers online—though that’s hairy territory already—but insecure teens aren’t doing themselves favors when their social development is hampered by hours and hours and hours with a headset and a trigger finger. Maybe they’re trading slurs with the country’s next generation of Neo-Nazis, or maybe they’re being sucked into the mob mentality of hours-long raids in 3D dungeons every night. Sorry to sound like an old man, but the 12-16 year-old mind just isn’t as good at ciphering out the crap in those socially loaded scenarios.

When you unplug the Internet, you keep the fun, simple nature of games in check—let parenting and reasonable guidance take over from that point. And really, what’s the worst that’ll happen? Your kid might sneak over to a friend’s house to play online. At least he/she will now have to play that game with other friends face-to-face, where they can’t get away with slagging each other without someone getting punched in the shoulder. It’s not ideal, but if your kid’s so far gone that he/she has to sneak out the window for a Counter Strike fix, your dumb parenting ass should take what it can get.

Oh, I just noticed this bit in the book description:

The authors give gaming advice on each stage of life; birth-2 years, ages 2-6, elementary school years, adolescence, and adult children still living at home.

Adults who still with their parents? It happens. But if you’re a concerned parent by that stage, maybe you should look into a different kind of book.

RSS icon Comments


You do sound like you're becoming and old man, but I happen to agree with you.

Kids addicted to online gaming? Shut of the DSL. I know it means mom and dad won't have high speed internet anymore, but mom and dad don't get to fuck in the kitchen anymore either - it's one of the funny things about having kids around.

And why do little kids always have money now? Whether it's a 10 year old with a bag of chips and a soda, or a rich kid with money for $60 video games - I don't get it. Is it normal for parents to give really young kids allowances now? I don't think I had cash in my pocket until I was 15 or so, when I started working. Blah blah blah I'm old!

Posted by Dougsf | July 30, 2008 1:00 PM

"Itís not ideal, but if your kidís so far gone that he/she has to sneak out the window for a Counter Strike fix, your dumb parenting ass should take what it can get."

Best Counter-Strike/Diablo/WarCraft 3 experiences were when playing online with friends that were sitting in the same room or just with each other over LAN. WAAAY better than sitting alone at home and playing on the internet.

It helped that most of us couldn't get DSL at the time (in high school), so each summer we would drop off our computers at another friend's house that was in town and had DSL.

The best part was sneaking into his house late at night when his parents were asleep (basement window!)... and then sneaking back out before they woke up.

Posted by w00t | July 30, 2008 1:22 PM

1. Adult Children Living At Home



Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 30, 2008 1:26 PM

@Bellevue: Some adult kids live at home while going to college. Obviously not an optimal situation for either kid or parent.

Still, you can easily shut off internet in that case (if grades are failing, hell they get to live for free)

Or you can have the internet be password protected.

But still, if you aren't going to college, GROW UP AND MOVE OUT YOU LAZY ASSHOLE.

Posted by Original Monique | July 30, 2008 1:34 PM


(Seriously, if we can put together a Slog fantasy football league, surely we can do a levelling run in DII.)

Posted by Gloria | July 30, 2008 1:34 PM

can posters who actually have children please raise your hand?

Posted by yer mom | July 30, 2008 1:42 PM

I used to LAN it up Gloria. Quake on DOS FTW!

OM, what kind of child wants to stay at home for college? College presents the unique opportunity to go off somewhere distant and be crazy and wild outside the reach of your parents.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 30, 2008 1:44 PM

@Bellevue: Dumb ones who should not have access to the internet. Or they should just hang themselves.

@yer mom: I don't but I know plenty of parents (sucessful and otherwise). The good ones would shut the internet off and normally don't give their kids carte blanche access to money.

Posted by Original Monique | July 30, 2008 1:46 PM

Yeah, like kids can afford it, BA ...

In case you haven't noticed, rents are going up, price of food is up, summer jobs for 18-22 yo is down ... count your blessings if you can stay at home and attend uni.

But get the FRICK out of the house when you can. I don't recall spending much time at home while at University - most was on campus, parties, skiing, "experimenting" with all the other student newspaper journalists.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 30, 2008 1:50 PM

i'm not "concerned" about my 22-year old "adult" UW senior playing diablo 2 in every spare moment, i'm fucking annoyed by it. he is straight: he should be chasing pussy.

the gaming noises annoy me as much as my rock n roll annoyed my parents. turn that fucking shit down.

Posted by max solomon | July 30, 2008 1:54 PM

In case you havent noticed, no one pays attention to what you have to say Will.

I suppose when theres only one legit public university in your state and the majority of the population lives in close proximity to it you wind up having commuter kids go there. On the other hand what do you know about the college experience other than ogling would pageant contestants at your job?

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 30, 2008 1:56 PM

diablo 2 is a classic for all times. it shows he has refined taste and doesn't follow the trend.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 30, 2008 1:58 PM

just pray he graduates before diablo 3 is released. otherwise he's screwed.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 30, 2008 2:03 PM

I was under the impression that modern research shows that video games, even shooters, make you smarter, not dumber. The thing they're preventing you from doing that you would otherwise be doing is usually staring slackjawed at TV, not chasing pussy or solving rare calculus proofs.

Posted by Fnarf | July 30, 2008 2:16 PM

@6 My hand is in the air. I have a 6 year old son. Yes he plays video games, but I monitor the games and how much time he spends doing it. Also, his computer is in the family room and it always will be, ditto with the tv. He can play any games rated "E" or "E10" at my house. Unfortunately his dad sometimes lets him play "T" games at his house. I think that's a bit much for a 6 year old.

My son isn't obsessed with the games, isn't overweight, and isn't into mayhem and violence in the "real" world. If one of those things starts to change I'll re-evaluate his video game playing. But, I'm an active parent and I pay attention to my kid so I'm thinking he'll continue to be able to balance video games with other activities.

Posted by PopTart | July 30, 2008 2:19 PM

You mean you didn't get accepted into the Diablo III beta, BA?

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 30, 2008 2:46 PM

I didn't even apply for it. Beta testing games is hell.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | July 30, 2008 3:07 PM

Online First-Person-Shooters can be fine with the right server. I play Team Fortress 2 (which is a step above other FPS games in that it involves team play and is quite cartoonish).

I play on servers hosted by Team Interrobang, who have lots of moderators that don't put up with racist or hateful language, or really anyone who takes themselves too damn seriously.

Finding good game servers like finding a good church, park, date, or friend.

Posted by Steve | July 30, 2008 3:13 PM

@15, gimme your address so I can send him a pile of Norwegian black metal CDs.

Posted by Fnarf | July 30, 2008 3:33 PM

Check out Reader Rabbit and MathBlaster - those are the games my son loved when he was that age, PopTart - but always stick to time limits.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 30, 2008 3:44 PM

Parents? Asserting control? Whuzza?

Posted by CP | July 30, 2008 7:34 PM

@19 So now in addition to warning my son not to take candy from strangers I have to warn him not to accept Norwegian black metal CDs from men mama meets on the Internet?

Posted by PopTart | July 30, 2008 8:33 PM

Well, yeah, but it's ok to accept Swedish psychedelic post-punk CDs. Those are fine.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 30, 2008 10:47 PM

Comments Closed

Comments are closed on this post.