Saturday, January 29, 2011

How Old Do They Have To Be?

For the last week (or 8. But who's counting?), the boys have been begging, pleading, and basically annoying the crap out of us to get the game Call of Duty for the Xbox.


They have the money to pay for it themselves. Yes, they have played it before at friends' houses.

I just don't know what to do here.

My policy is no. It's rating is too high/old/mature (whatever you would call it). I think that they should have to wait for games like that. For one, the subject matter is disturbing. For 2, the language is horrible. And 3, they should have something to look forward to as they get older. Not only that, but shooting someone to kill them, even in a video game, is SO NOT OK.

They argue that there are cheat codes to turn off the blood and language. They'll pay for it. They've played it before.

They are generally good boys. While I complain that they should 'do more' around the house, there are probably few boys as well behaved and polite as my two. They're loved by their teachers, get excellent grades, don't get in trouble, and have nice friends.

Not that he's ready to say yes, but Headless Dad said that if we do say yes that there will be major restrictions on how long they're able to play each day. In addition, if we notice any behavior changes in the boys the game would be the first thing to go. (Which I almost think would be worse: taking it away after they've had it? I'd end up being the bad guy, police man, and the parole officer all rolled into one.)

I also think that giving in right now is a slippery slope. Once they have this one, it will be harder to say no to other games, regardless of content.

We are trying to discuss this, be rational, be fair. Dammit, rational and fair are HARD.

Remember: my boys are 9 and 11. (Grade 3 and 5)

So tell me, internets? What would you do? Would you let your boys have this game? (Or games like it?) What is your 'house policy' on video games, especially ones with questionable content? When did you cave to 'older' games and did you regret your decision? If you had it to do over, would you choose differently?

I'd love to hear any and all opinions on this because I/we are really having trouble with this one!
Headless Mom


Bobbie said...

My boys are now 17 and 20. I still remember when my cousin came to stay for a weekend and brought her boys, who were 8-10 years older than mine. Knowing we had a Nintendo system (for which we had games like Star Wars, or Mario Kart), they brought their James Bond game.

The click that the gun made stopped me dead in my tracks. I was horrified. But within a few days we had our own James Bond game.

Long story short, my boys are normal, law abiding citizens. They rarely if ever play video games any more. I think your boys will be fine, especially with your rules in place.

The Mrs said...

I understand your desire to be rational and fair to your boys - it must be especially hard to say no when like you say they're such good little guys.

And although there are a lot of cases when parental misgivings may not be the best guide to what is appropriate (for instance, I'll have parental misgivings about Miss dating anyone until she's 35), I think maybe you should listen to yours.

Sure, you can raise normal, law abiding citizens who play video games like Call of Duty. Your influence must have a lot more impact on them than a video game with your limits imposed on it can.

But if you shudder at the idea of your boys (who you know best) playing a game like this, then hold fast and don't do it.

Completely unrelated - I'm so looking forward to your day in the life post...and anyone else's that you can rustle up.

Michele said...

At our house, we go by the ratings, unless my husband has already played the game. We're strict about it. If it's rated M, or T, there are reasons for it. We're hardasses, and considered the "mean" parents around here. But we've noticed for our kids, especially with Joseph's issues, the most important parenting technique for us has been following through with the rules we've made. Our kids know what to expect, what they're not going to get, and what needs to happen to get what they want. With Joseph, it helps keep him sane (literally).

Ramblin' Red said...

We're much like Michele, die hard rating followers. And our kids know it, all there is to it.

With movies, if there is a PG, that means they watch with us...sometimes a PG 13 will get a watch, also with us. Because that PG, means parental guidance, and we'll guide our kids thru something that warrants it should questionable content arise, however, G is the only rating they can watch carte blanche.

But video games? Often times are played without parental guidance in our home; i.e. they are played while I'm busy cooking dinner or something like that. Thus, they do not get to have discretion with ratings. E and Y7 or whatever that one is, only. (we're ages 9 and 7 here at our house).

Rocks In The Wash said...

Several years ago, M (my husband and police officer) went to a training on how to desensitize military persons when having to go into combat. They talked about a program, very much like our computer/video games that children use today, that they are trained on to prep them for combat. Its used to desensitize a normal person so that they may be capable to take a human life. They talked about how those that use the computer/video games tend to use their "dog brain," which is the survival part of the brain that deals with the 4 Fs (Fight, Flight, Food and procreation). In using this portion of the brain it tends to make them more aggressive and moody with prolonged use.

The military uses this program once or maybe twice a year for training and they found it to be very effective. Now imagine using a game that is 100 times more violent and graphic for hours on end.

M came from the training stating that our boys can ONLY play 2 hours A WEEK; and no violent video games.

Let me know if you want the name of the person that gave the training as well as the author of a book explaining all of this.

HolyMama! said...

i'm overprotective... but no way. part of that is my oldest boy's personality. he's sensitive. if he plays something too grown up (even if it's rated okay for his age), i notice the change in him right away and we talk about it and that game is history. rating help, but knowing your kid is a big part of it.
you'll do fine!

Debby@Just Breathe said...

I wouldn't let them. I just asked Dylan because he plays those games but he has been to war and is 29 years old. I don't know the rating but all you do is kill people. You at war! You get more points if you shoot people in the head. I think a lot of the problems today with guns comes from games like that! That is just my opinion. The kids with issues probably don't have caring parents like you are.

Kizz said...

As a side note, if you get the game I think that the option to turn off the blood is not a good one. While it might be bad for some kids to play a game where they kill people over and over without consequence I imagine it is infinitely worse for it to be even farther removed from reality by not even showing an animated version of the aftermath.

Karen said...

This is a hard one for me. My first instinct is to say no, because I hate even being in the same room when mine are playing it. On the other hand my kids do have it and do play it, that is because at one time I was in the same predicament as you. My 18 year old got it due to the influence of others and with the large age difference between the boys the 11 year old started even earlier. That being said, I believe the issue is more with me. For Kell it is a social thing his friends get together for Call of Duty tournaments once in a while or if friends come over they play it. Keaton also does not play it all the time, but once in awhile. Neither one r gaming addicts. I know my boys r not any more likely to confuse real life with the games, then they would be to playing army with sticks to actually shooting someone. But I think if u have any trepidatiion or are worried at all then you should not let them have it. You know your boys best.

Erica M said...


Baseball Mom said...

Sorry but my vote would be No as well. For many of the same reasons already listed.

Peter and Nancy said...

I'm a first-time reader -- your blog was on the BlogHer sidebar of another blog. When I saw the title, I knew it would be a good discussion (without even knowing the subject!).

I'd say no too. I think a good question to ask is "How will this benefit our family?" The answer to that question makes so many things clearer -- and then you're in the mindset of asking about the *good*, and not feeling like the jailer. :o) If you can't find any benefits, then don't bring it into your house.

The question of them playing at others' houses is a whole other debate . . . :o)

SJ said...

Funny that you posted this, this discussion has been going on in my house for a few weeks now.

My husband plays this game and sometimes lets our EIGHT year old join in.

I don't really think my eight year old should be playing this game, yet .... heck, I don't know. I'm on the fence.

I think he's too young and should stick to something like Angry Birds. Much less aggressive, yes?

Christine said...

My husband plays it and I can't stand it. I have a 6 y/o and I wouldn't let him play it until he is 18 and he can decide...

Mandy said...

This is my first trip to your blog, but this is an item of contention for us too. My son's father is very permissive when it comes to video games. Fortunately, the gf doesn't allow HER (their) kids to watch those games, so it also limits my son's exposure to those things.

The James Bond game is not as "blood & guts" as Call of Duty. I would probably say ok to the James Bond game, but not Call of Duty.

Just my two cents.

Mandy said...

PS - My son is 11 and in the 6th grade. Some of his friends' parents are very permissive, we are on the stricter side, but not the most restrictive.

StephLove said...

I'm coming to this party late, but if you're still debating it, count me as a no.

I've only recently started letting my almost-ten year old watch movies with battle scenes (the first two Chronicles of Narnia films) but I think acting the violence out is worse.

Anna See said...

This is a tough one. We have said no to M and T at this point (J is in 6th grade, turning 12). However, we know that a lot of younger kids can play. J is into Lego Universe (an online game) and there is killing in it. Sure it's legos guys killing lego guys, but who knows?

130 studies have all shown that playing violent video games has raised aggression and reduced empathy in boys. Not good.

This is not to say we won't cave at some point. We are the weird private school parents and our son is an introvert w/ less than stellar social skills. Sooooo being different in this way too won't be fun.