I think my 10 y.o. is a preteen?? I'm wondering how other like-minded parents handle the dilemma of age-inappropriate video games your children are given access to when they're at a friend's house? This keeps coming up here, and I've talked to my son about how I feel, and why I feel the way I feel. The games that we have here are pretty much age-appropriate, although we have one that pushes the envelope a bit (a "T" rating). It seems, though, that all of his friends are playing Modern Warfare, and similar "not for kids" games. The last time DS was at one boy's place, they were playing a game where they had to steal cars and escape from police, which included shooting down a police helicopter, etc...glorifying deviant and criminal behavior. I wrote DS a letter, which enabled me to say everything I needed to say about it, and then we talked some more about it later.
The boys that he's playing with seem nice enough, and the parents do as well. I just don't agree with their choices. Forbidding DS to play at their houses is not the right thing to do, and I encourage him to invite them here as much as possible. DS says he won't play those games if I don't want him to, but that might be kidspeak for "I just won't tell mom about it." Not what I want either! How do other parents deal with this, and still keep the lines of communication open?
So much of typical boy play is role playing being powerful... Using toy guns hasn't been linked to really shooting people as adults. Playing criminals in video games won't undo years of involved parenting and moral guidance. I'm sure there are games I don't want my own ds playing though I suspect I'd be ok with most rated T games. I run into the issue of parents not letting their kids play with their video systems when ds is over which is a bit frustrating for him since he doesn't have a gaming system (other than his original, bought used, version of the handheld nintendo ds) and would love the opportunity to check out different ones. Plus, boys do so much bonding playing those games together and talking about them.
As a parent who overdid the limiting dd's exposure to media and products that didn't reinforce my values, I would say use it as an opportunity to discuss why you don't have them in your house but don't turn it into a forbidden fruit.
Hmm, how would you handle it if it were an R-rated movie?
(As an aside, I wouldn't worry at all if it was a T-rated game, even if your child is still under 13. In theory, the T rating is supposed to be similar to PG13 in movies, video games are rated so much more strictly that the E-10+ and T ratings are pretty much a joke.)
I guess you just have to decide what level of danger is worth your child not being trustworthy 100 percent of the time. Personally, DS 11, playing a "T" level game isn't high risk and a chance I take when he goes elsewhere. It's not really an issue with us though since DS doesn't hang at other boys homes (they are always at ours and we don't have any of those sorts of games.)
If you are comfortable with the parents, just letting them know he's not allowed to play those games is fair.
We didn't have video game issues (may be one of the positive sides of having girls?) but we did have R rated movie issues. It was around age 10/11 that watching R rated horror movies during sleep overs became common in my younger DD's friend set. She was up front with me about it, which I really appreciated, and I tried to react in a way that would leave the door open for her continuing being honest about stuff. My main concern was talking to her about how she felt bout the movies, if she felt she could speak up for herself, and how she wanted me to react.
Then I decided to let it go. Because she seemed comfortable with it and it wasn't giving her nightmares or anything, I just let it go. If I saw some real reason to intervene, it would be different, but I don't really believe in censorship, and I believe that letting our kids make choices is the only way to give them room to make good ones, I decided not to raise it as an issue with other parents.
I think that helping our kids figure out what they really want and then letting them make it happen is part of letting them grow up. If my DD had been freaked out by the movies but felt unable to speak up for herself, my response would have been different.
But we've spent so much time and energy and love on them BEFORE they got to be pre-teens that all our great parenting isn't going to go down the tubes over a stupid game or a bad movie. Our kids are stronger than that. It's playing pretend, it isn't planning their future. Connecting with their peers over stupid stuff (which we don't care for) is actually a good sign. It means they are developing normally. (None of this stuff is ever an issue with my autism spectrum kid).
And teaching our kids that we trust them, love them, and support them is most likely more important than protecting them from playing pretend.
but everything has pros and cons
I usually talk to the parents and let them know that I don't want my preteen playing first person shooter games or games rated M. We've also talked to ds about why we think they're inappropriate and why we don't buy them. Luckily for us, ds doesn't like that kind of game and will usually refuse to play it. If he was attracted to that kind of game, I'm not sure what I'd do. I'm OK with R rated movies, even though they're not my first choice. I'm much more concerned with horror movies or movies with a lot of violence, because they really affect my kids (they're highly visual and cause nightmares). I really don't care about R rated for language and/or sex.
Well, I'm not really OK with first person shooter, M rated games for my 9 y/o-not that far off from your 10 y/o, OP. I have a teen dd, but she has no interest in video games. The school my ds is in actually had a lot of concern about some of the video games (shooter, rated M) the kids were engaged in-mostly because they were bringing a lot of the imagery, play, and description into the classroom. This is a public school-no one gets ruffled by much, and video games are pretty common. It was the content that was actually fairly disturbing to the kids, and it was being acted out. I think that they ended up making the classroom a "safe space" from that kind of discussion and re-enactment, which seems appropriate and reasonable.
We have been in situations where my kids have seen such games, and I'd guess my son may have played at one point or another, at a cousin's house. I don't think that the single event is going to harm him, but given a choice, no, I really don't feel the need for my child to have such experiences? Why would you? What good comes of it? We are also one's who limited lots of media, etc., and I have no wish to return to that lifestyle. But it also doesn't mean that I have to endorse the violence.
Anyway, as to being at other people's homes, I try to be pretty relaxed about what other's family culture is, and we don't know a lot of people who are hard core into the video games.....9/10 is pretty young. If it was a consistent play date, I'd be up front about my concerns.
Good question -- I really don't know. Probably 13 or 14. Honestly, I'd like for them to never play those games, but I know that's not realistic. As a parent with a child who's just barely a "preteen," I'm going to have to see how things go as he gets older. I know that I can't protect him from everything. I don't want to make it forbidden fruit. At the same time, we will never have them in our house because I feel strongly that these kinds of games desensitize people to violence. Dh agrees. He doesn't play these games either. But I know I can't control what ds does at other kids' houses. At age 10, the parents still monitor their games for the most part, and so my saying "no M or 1st person shooter" (are there any 1st person shooter not rated M?) still works. In 4 years?? Probably not.
I'm hoping that by the time ds is going places where I don't know the parents as well, he'll be able to rely on his own moral compass. I know that he'll probably try one or two, but I'm betting that he won't take to them. The only kids I know who play these games have parents who play them. Since dh doesn't and I don't, they're really not on his radar right now. There are a lot of really good sports games out there that ds likes and we're promoting those. My nephews were raised with the same policy, and they never started gaming with the violent games either. (And they're 25 and 32 now, so they've had a lot of time where they could have chosen differently and didn't.)
I make my feelings and hopes known to my DD but I don't actively limit her activities at other people's homes. I am sure she will watch movies and play games that I seriously object to, I did that often when I was her age, so I try to word things in a way that keeps communication flowing. Playing games and watching movies I knew my mom dissaproved of didn't have an effect on me in the long term so it isn't something I focus much energy on.
We went through this w/my oldest this summer, regarding horror movies. I hate the gory horror movies, and I know dd is sensitive to them. However, it has been a huge, huge thing to do at sleepover parties, and parents seem to rent or obtain some seriously gory stuff for their kids with no problems. On her own at the last party this summer, dd called to come home. She was sick of the marathon of gore, and decided to come home. If we had suggested to her that she limit her time at the party, she would have balked because that wasn't HER plan. But left to herself, she made a plan that she was comfortable with.
However, dd is a teen. I would be more proactive with my younger child.
At around 10 DS came home from a friend’s house saying he had played a game called "Call of Duty". He told us that he liked it and asked if he could get it too.
DH and I looked it up and were horrified about what we read. The parents of this other boy seemed nice and decent, as did the boy, so we did not make an issue of it but also did not get the game.
We only recently relented when DS was 13 and got it for him because it really was the case that all his friends had it by now. They are all nice boys, so although I am not happy about him playing this game, I've learned to live with it. You really have to choose your battles at this age and it was not worth having one over this video game.