Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Call of Duty : A parents guide to their duty

Everywhere I speak, and whenever I meet with a group of parents who have boys, a question always comes up about violent video games with a particular worry about Call Of Duty. Should we or shouldn't we? I do not have a specific answer, but I will try to present two sides of this thorny situation and let you and your son decide. Knowledge is power.

This is a violent and amoral game its true. And for those of you who feel that your moral center just does not allow for this kind of game in your home, and that the values so deeply ingrained in you find this game so repellent than this is for you. Here is your 'I get It" moment, and the conversation you can have with your son: "We get that you love this game, and that all your friends have it. I know you think we are taking the violence too seriously, and that you will not turn into a cold blooded killer just because you play this game, but the killing in this game is particularly gruesome and inhumane. We understand that you will play this game at someone else's house, we get that, but having it at home just goes against so much about what we believe in about violence and human life. I know that this feels unfair, and unjust, and maybe just stupid, but we feel its important for us to stand up for what we value at least in our own home."

Here is the more complex solution. If you don't allow your teen to have Call Of Duty in your house, they will for sure go to their friends house to play if they are so motivated. What this means is that much of your teen's free time hanging with friends will now be done at someone else's house. This means you will have even less face time with your teen than you might have if the game was at your house. That is a huge loss. This game is part of the teen boy community. You might not like that, but it is what it is. You can't change it and you really can't forbid it, unless you keep your teen locked in your house and never allow him to visit his friend's home. What you can do is set limits. You can limit the amount of time spent on the game. 8 hours a day is obviously not good. 1 hour a day during the week and a few hours a day on the weekends is fine. Here is your 'I Get It " moment: "We get how important this game is to you, and that all your friends are playing it. Just to put it out there, we find the violence really over the top in this game, but so be it. You can have the game, but together we will come up with some expectations about how much is enough time to play this a day and on the weekends. We will come up with this plan together. However if you fight with us when its time to get off for the day, and become argumentative about it, then we will take the game away or the computer. We are making a real compromise here on our values, and we hope you appreciate that. We are different people and we understand that for you, this game is just a fun game to play, and that it is something that you and your friends do together, and we get how important that is to you."

So there are your two options. You have to do what feels right for you and your family. The work here is not to criticize your teen for liking something you find disgusting. Showing your understanding of your differences is essential, and is more likely to get your teen on board with the rules. Remember its not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.

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