Parenting & Video Games

xwatchmanx

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I'm just curious about what other gamers think. Do you think it's fair to impose time limits and other restrictions on young children when they play games? If so, what do you think is a fair set of rules? When you grew up, what kind of rules did your parents have about gaming (if any), and in hindsight do you view them as being fair, too loose, or too strict?

Discuss. I'll post a few words about this subject myself, after I get some sleep. ;)

Thanks guys! I wasn't expecting to get so many responses! :D Here's my views (copypasta'd from my comment further below)
Thanks for the input, guys! Really glad to see so many opinions and ideas among gamers. Honestly, I was kinda worried that this would seem like this looney subject that most gamers don't really care about, but I'm glad to have been proven wrong. :) Anyway, I guess I now owe you guys my personal take on parenting and gaming. First, a little of my own history...

Being born in 1990, I didn't get into gaming until 1995, right before the N64 came out. However, my first few systems were hand-me-downs from my uncle (his NES, and later SNES), so I had the blessing of being able to experience Nintendo's entire console lineup in order (Duck Hunt/Super Mario bros. was my first game!). :D

Anyhow, my parents were really strict from day one. The original rule was 20 minutes a day. Being 5 years old, I guess I can understand that. But a couple years later when we got the SNES, my parents cracked down and made the rule only 20 minutes a day on Fridays and Saturdays. This rule basically held until my parents stopped caring when I was around 16. And boy, was it ridiculous and caused problems!

For whatever reason (probably because my parents were and still are a pair of hyper-superstitious and overly-conservative nuts), my parents were deathly afraid of this contagious disease (or form of demon possession) called "video game addiction" that they were certain had contaminated my siblings and I from the first day we touched a NES controller. This fear drove them not only to impose such a ridiculous set of rules (such as only being allowed to play for literally 40 minutes a week, and even then only if they were in a good mood), but to view any normal game-related behavior as proof of said addiction. If I ever talked about video games when I wasn't playing (for any reason), it was a sign of addiction. If I showed any form of joy or excitement when it was finally time to play, it was a sign of addiction. If I ever said "shoot," or "darn," whenever I lost a life, it was a sign of addiction. Oh yeah, and asking for 2 more minutes so I can reach a save point was, you guessed it, a sign of addiction.

The worst part of all this was it was a self-fulfilling prophecy. I couldn't play long enough to find even ONE save point in many games, and usually couldn't even TALK with friends about video games within earshot of my parents for fear of being called "addicted" and arbitrarily getting grounded from video games for the week. This frustrated me to the point where video games basically consumed my mind. They were all I thought about, talked about (when I could), drew pictures of, etcetera. Eventually it got to the point where I was secretly playing video games whenever everyone was asleep, or not home (that was literally the only reason I was able to beat the first part of Majora's Mask and get to the first save point... pathetic, huh?). My parents eventually got so mad that they took away video games for good when I was 15. This only further increased my obsession, and I continued to think, dream, and play video games when my parents weren't around.

For whatever reason, my parents kind of stopped caring about video games the following year (they even got an XBox360, because my dad found a video game he liked). Coincidentally, it wasn't very long after this that I kind of leveled out and stopped being so obsessed. I would pick up a 360 controller or dust off my old Gamecube and play for an hour or so, and I'd be done. Nowadays, without restrictions at all (yay for college and handhelds I paid for myself!), I play about an hour a day, if at all (very rarely I'll play for 2 hours).

So in short, I got ridiculously addicted to gaming while under strict restrictions, but mellowed out into a levelheaded person who plays games in moderation (if I say so myself) almost immediately after having such strict restrictions removed. Curious, isn't it?

Don't get me wrong, I think there should be some limit on young children playing video games. But I think such limits should be reasonable, and not done in a "guilty until proven innocent" type way, like I was. To this day, my parents still think that their restrictions were good and that I'm a video game addict just for playing at all. The only reason they say they don't "enforce" my playing is because I'm 22 years old, and if I want to "waste my life away", it's my choice. lol.

Anyway, that's my story. What do you guys think? I'll make another post later about my views on how video games should be dealt with by parents (as well as my view of the rating system)
 

stylow

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I wouldn't give time limits as it would become boring after playing it alot so he would stop without saying something about it.
But the age ristriction is another thing i would nly let him play 12 + till he is 15
 

syko5150

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I don't put a time limit on how long my daughter is allowed to play, but I do make sure she does other things besides gaming. I don't want her to just sit around at home all day playing video games, so she's involved in sports and other activities outside of the house. As for content she's allowed to play, I allow her to play games that are rated up to Teen even though she's only 11 because they usually don't have content that is too bad. I won't let her play Mature rated games at all or even let her watch me play them.
 
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FAST6191

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kids need to follow the classifications.
If a game is MA15+, then they must be 15+.
There are too many 12 year olds playing FPSs and beating up prostitutes.

Granted I have never been a fan of the rating system and I consider the Australian rating system a joke (as do most it seems) and most others are little better but more importantly I have to bring up the differences between the things that get certain ratings in games and the things that get certain ratings in TV/film/whatever*.
Some cases might be justified to have something restricted by age (or better a measure of maturity) but by and large I can not get behind the rating system and at best it is a minor guide to things (could be useful but only if you put in the spadework to get there at which point you might as well not have bothered with the rating system at all). The usual phrase here for me is play/watch more or less whatever you like but if you do not understand something come find us and ask. Equally nothing stopping you from sitting in and taking the time to explain things, indeed if I had to find something objectionable it would sooner be the use of electronic babysitter than someone somewhere maybe not holding to a rating.

*example. Mass effect got stung with an 18 rating for various versions around here and comparing that to films what was possibly in it to justify it? Other than don't delete my save I have no objection to any age playing it. Granted some of the concepts, choices and writing would make it a bit difficult for the average ten year old (my choice of sci fi literature at the time had some fairly similar themes mind) to get along with which itself acts as a better restriction.
Better yet perfect dark for the N64 got an 18 rating in the UK. Contrast to say Independence day (12 rating by the way).

Rules from my youth.... if you are going to play on your C64 a time limit of so long because it takes longer to load but a shorter one for the NES or master system. Not terribly useful

Time limits in and of themselves seem somewhat arbitrary. I guess if their school has a thing about homework (a different discussion) maybe consider sitting down and doing it with them and otherwise if playing games is more compelling than other things the onus would surely then be on you as a parent to make something else more fun (build or buy a ramp for a bike/skates/skateboard, buy a water pistol, my personal favourite buy a toolkit and/or chemistry/experiment set or something along those lines).
 

Guild McCommunist

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kids need to follow the classifications.
If a game is MA15+, then they must be 15+.
There are too many 12 year olds playing FPSs and beating up prostitutes.

I started playing M-rated games when I was like twelve or so. EDIT: First M-rated game I owned was Prince of Persia: Warrior Within but the first M-rated game I actually played was Perfect Dark on my friend's N64.

Generally though if a child is not psychotic they'll generally not stray towards highly inappropriate games for the reason that they're highly inappropriate or they'll just stick to more "family friendly" games until a certain time period.

Ratings really don't mean much though, I've rarely been to a game store that actually cards you for age. I was at Wal-Mart some time last year and my friend picked up a copy of Saint's Row. He didn't bring any ID and when he said "I don't have ID on me" they just said "Eh, who cares" and let him buy it anyway. And it's Saint's Row 3. The game with dildo bats. Mind you he was 17 but it wasn't super obvious that he was. Like I could pass as twenty-something based on physical appearance but my friend doesn't immediately look 17 (now 18 at the time) based on physical appearance.

I think the issue with gaming as a parent is teaching children moderation. To have them not develop a work ethic where they'll blow off things just to play some games. I've been known to do this myself but it's not to the point where it seriously affects my work. I still do my school work, I still go to work (when I have it), I've learned to pace out playing games and doing boring stuff. Like I'll get home and be like "I'll play Skyrim until 7pm and then go do homework", and nowadays I do. Well, not nowadays since I have no more school work, but you get the idea.
 
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Gahars

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The ratings are a good guide, but it really depends on the maturity of the child. Some 12 year olds are more than capable of handling M rated games; some 18 year olds aren't.

As for time limits, they should definitely be in place. I don't think they should be anything concrete, though; the child should learn for him/herself what the appropriate time for games is (Do I have my homework done? Are there chores I have to do? When should I go to bed? etc.). That sort of responsibility is a good thing to teach.
 
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astrangeone

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I'm 28, no kids (yet.), and I feel that gaming and parenting needs to be addressed.

My parents had a system in that gaming was a reward. I got good grades, and I got the television for a couple of hours with a game rental of my choice. (I miss the SNES days.) I had to make sure that everything that I needed got done.

I learned early on that playing too much was a pretty bad decision. I faked being sick once in grade school in order to get more time playing North and South on my dad's 386 computer. I spent the rest of the day playing it, and then ended up feeling terrible that my teachers and parents both fell for it. (It was stomach cramps.)

Now I game in my spare time.

I had limits set on me - if my parents wanted the television - that's it, I was given five minutes to save, and it was off to do something else.

Nowadays, it's harder to control what kids do. I mean, televisions in the bedroom, computers everywhere, and mobiles? Yes, it's pretty hard to control access and time on games when they are everywhere....

I played my first M+ game @16. My best friend was dating this guy and he got her Alice for the PC. I ended up playing a little of it, and I didn't see the appeal. (She was obsessed with Alice...apparently.) Also, he was carded. I think he was 22 at the time, but very baby faced. (Yes, my friend dates older men. She's...interesting that way.)

Also research suggests that kids select content that they are ready for. (This makes sense, as I didn't like Alice back then, but I can see the appeal now.) Meaning that kids will shut off content that they aren't ready for.
 

The Catboy

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Growing up, I never really had a time limit on how much I could game as long as I finished my school work and other things like that.
But I do think parents need to look at the ratings and why they are rated as such. I don't think 12 year old kids should be playing M games, there is a reason they are rated M.
I won't let my kid play M games until they are mature enough to handle the content in them. Does that mean I would wait till they are 17, maybe, I have seen some 15 year olds out there who were clearly mature enough for M games. Then again I have also seen some 30 year old men out there who were not mature enough for the games they play.
 

Thesolcity

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As a little kid I had a GBC and that was it. I only was able to play on the weekends for ~1-2 hours at a time. No late night gaming sessions, either. ;)
 

philip11

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Me, I'm 12 my parents let me play Doom because they know afterwards I'm not gonna go around with a Banana and pretend it's a gun nor will I go in the garage and fire up the Chainsaw.
 

Midna

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My parents were erratic when it came to rules of any sort. One week it would be no games except for one hour on weekends, the next they would forget entirely. When they did impose arbitrary rules like that, I definitely resented them for it though

Of course, I'm not sure their whole parenting ideas in general were that accomplished. It would help if your alternative to video games is not locking your kids out of the house to make them "play".
Edit: When I was 14 I wasn't allowed to play rated teen games. Don't do that either.
 

nando

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I dont let my son play violent games. He is 10
When i was little i wasnt restricted on what i could play but there was nothing like gta at the time.
 

FAST6191

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I dont let my son play violent games. He is 10
When i was little i wasnt restricted on what i could play but there was nothing like gta at the time.



A bit of background would probably not go amiss there but suffice it to say it was not a one off little homebrew public domain game (although Virgin publishing it probably says as much).

Granted I am going to have to work a bit harder to get something similar in theme to GTA (plenty of open world games* and plenty of games where criminality/unpleasantness worked for you) in the late 80s and prior unless I drop something where it could be incidental (many of the games like Ultima or Wizardry), there was a point where run and gun shooter/contra clone was the go to film tie in and many of those were not exactly free of gore or do something like mention Elite.

*GTA1 looked somewhat antiquated back in 1997 but was a great example of not needing cutting edge graphics.

Indeed if I can include the early 90s I might go so far as to say things are slightly tamer now in some ways.
 
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thegame07

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lol, I never knew there was a viz game Fast. I need to go grab an emulator and a rom now. The Amiga was just before my time but I used to read viz books as a kid as my dad owned 100s of them from the early 90s (talk about bad parenting)
 

AlanJohn

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If I was a parent, then I wouldn't give my child a chance to play CoD or Halo until he is 15. What I would do is give him some good games to play while he is under 10, mostly Wii games. Then when he gets older, I will give him to play some hardcore FPS's like Counter-Strike, Half-Life series, Time Splitters etc. Then I would give him games like Grand Theft Auto (especially the PS2 ones).
My child would become a master of video games.
 

DragorianSword

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I had an 'official' time limit that I could play games. I was only allowed to play 1-1,5 hours a day (that was when I was 7-10 when I started gaming) but after a while those rules were neglected and I knew when I had played enough for the day without my parents telling me to stop.
I was actually allowed to play any game I wanted, but since I had a GBA, which doesn't have really violent games, and a crappy PC that couldn't run most games, I never really got any violent games.
The first violent game I played was GTA VIce City I think and I was about 12 at that time.

In my opinion kids can play shooters from around 12 if you feel they are mature enough, but before that really is a little to early.
 

DinohScene

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I never had time limits on games when I was growing up.

My parents didn't like me having 16 or 18+ games like GTA 2 and Quake etc.
But they didn't really minded it cause it was not that realistic.

As I grew older I started to play more and more 3+ and 6+ games heh.
 

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