Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Open Letter To Parents: Stop Being Lazy

GTAV is out. Of course it sold a ridiculous amount of copies, making a ton of money, and there are kids who are not mature enough to handle the content that will be playing the game. So one game store employee (we’re assuming GameStop based on the info that said employee has worked with the retailer for over 10 years. No one else has been in business that long, so probably a GameStop employee) decided to write an open letter to parents regarding GTAV

Now this isn’t a “lets bash the games for turning kids bad” type of open letter. This is one concerned parent to another about how absent people are regarding kids and their gaming habits. It’s also not a means of preaching to people that violent games are bad. The author of the letter has stated that he has received tons of comments from customers about how violent games didn’t affect them, and they live very normal lives. But that isn’t to say that games can’t have a negative impact on children. Just like too much reading, too much television, even too much exercise and sports can affect a child, so too can gaming. And an 8 year old should not be playing Grand Theft Auto. At least not without an adult right there to supervise and explain what’s going on.

Absentee parenting is the issue. When someone goes up to a counter, wants to buy Call of Duty for their child who is not even tall enough to see over said counter, while tapping away on their phone or tablet and not paying attention to the clerk or their child or any of their surroundings, then yeah, it’s a problem. We all know the story so well, and it’s sad how true it is: the parent is going to take the kid home and let them play the game, unsupervised, and either learn a lot of new things that their brain cannot comprehend or said parent gets mad at the violence when they do stumble into the room, and tries to take it back to the store…only to get another game and repeat the process.

I’m not stating that violent games are the reason that our society is so jacked up. Because if you look at other cultures that play video games, we know that’s not the problem. What my biggest concern is, just like this game store employee, and just like Gabe from Penny Arcade are parents not giving a damn and letting media act as parents instead.

Do you know why so many of us are pretty normal today? Because our parents actually gave a damn about what we did. They didn’t ignore us for 3 days while we played World of Warcraft nonstop. Instead they gave us time limits, shoved us outside to play if we spent more than an hour indoors. They made sure that we understood the media content that we were seeing by playing the games with us, or watching the R rated movies with us, and not letting our minds come to incorrect conclusions.

When you become a parent, you take on that responsibility of raising a child. Being a parent is not a passive act and you can’t pass it off onto someone else. You created the kid. You have to own up to the fact that you are the major force of influence in their life. So learn, be active, and start giving a damn. That’s what the issue is. Not kids playing violent games, but kids playing violent games without their parents setting any rules, limits, or providing context. See, other parents in other countries do that. They act like, holy crap, real parents! What a novel idea.

So don’t jump on the poorly paid store employee for giving an honest response regarding violent games. Be a parent, take the time to learn about your kids and what they like to do, and get involved. Responsibility shouldn't fall on everyone else in society for raising your child. And if you’re lazy, well that will teach you to not be a parent in the first place.

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