Remember the days when arcades were the only place you could really play a video game? That was before the 1980s, when kids would go on dates, cruise the popular spots in town on the weekends, and occasionally hit a drive-in movie. There was no video game addiction, only the occasional pinball wizard who refused to lose a game. There was no real epidemic or signs of addiction because once the quarters were gone, so was the ability to play. Grand Theft Auto (GTA), had not found its place in society yet, and neither had any similarly violent games. The beginning of this so-called epidemic came many years later, but was it the fault of the video game industry, or a case of bad decision making by parents?
When video games were brought into the homes of teenagers across the world, a new wave of problems began for some, leading many parents to a place of shock and in the midst of video game hell. This hell seems to have been brought on by parents who have not easily established a routine or a strict set of rules. Many parents, myself included, have found that television and video games allow the children to be entertained, for hours on end, while ensuring a few hours of peace. This is a common practice in homes across the world, and it is estimated that the number of hours playing video games will only continue to rise over the next few years. This probably does not come a surprise to anyone reading this, as it has only grown steadily over the past thirty plus years.
There are varied studies and many different views on the effects of constant play, or the playing of certain types of games, and as a parent I hope somewhere, somehow I managed to get it right. This video game epidemic has both good qualities and bad, and after researching the most common of each side of the spectrum, I am satisfied that my parenting is not quite as shoddy as I feared.
Many researchers claim that violent video games, GTA, and those made similarly, have been linked to violent behavior in adolescents. I personally have no doubt that it’s true. What I do want to emphasize is the predisposition of kids who have acted violently because of such games. A child who is not susceptible to violence will more than likely not begin a violent life just because he or she plays a violent video game, like GTA. A child prone to rage and angry outbursts should perhaps be more moderated and observed. This seems to be a matter of common sense, though, and it doesn’t necessarily take a scientific study to understand the impact certain games have on certain types of people.
The other side to this debate reports that playing video games, in any capacity is good for children, teaching them to be engaged in something so intensely that skills are being mastered. Now, I am not insinuating video games should replace school, family time, or outdoor activities, but what I am suggesting is that there seems to be something to this conclusion. When a child is engrossed in something so much that they lose the ability to hear, such as a book or a homework assignment, we can all agree that it’s a good thing. Being engrossed in a video game that is filled with mental tasks and motor skill enhancements cannot be entirely bad for a child whose brain is continuously growing and changing.
This issue seems to be one left to the parents, and one of personal choice and logic. Sure, this epidemic, if that’s what it truly is, seems to take up more time than most parents would like. Sure, it’s true that many parents refuse their children video games, especially those like GTA, but who is to say which parent is right? Is it not each parent’s individual decision to determine what is best for his or her child? I would like to think that currently, if your child has outbursts of anger, fits of rage, and is prone to violence, you, as a parent, would make the right decision using common sense. Allowing children to play games who emotionally are not capable of nonaggression is a problem with the parenting, not the video game. This is just my take, but GTA and video games are not the epidemic, poor choices in parenting are.
An op-ed written by: Amy Magness Whatley