M is for Mature, or Maybe.
Okay, change of plans. I had written another blog last night to post today but Joey’s topic of conversation tonight after the baseball game trumps it. Joey, for about a year now, has asked if he could play the video games Call of Duty and Halo on the XBOX 360. Every time, Julie and I have both responded with a quick “No”. See those two games are rated “M” for mature, and clearly at 13 he is not old enough. Ratings are ratings. His argument however, is one befitting of a teenage boy, “All of my friends can play, why can’t I? “I am the only 8th grader that does not play Dad.” “I’m left out of many conversations at the lunch table.” “Because I can’t play Halo, I’m a social outcast Dad, and everyone laughs at me because you’re the strictest parents ever!” (okay so I added the last one, he really didn’t say that, but that’s how I know he feels).
Joey has a good head on his shoulders. He excels in school. Tries hard. Does his homework, gets exceptionally good grades and has afternoons filled with extra curriculars (One of which is baseball which we just finished this evening.) He is very mature for his age. Joey could be nicer to his siblings, especially his sister, but again he is a 13 year old boy. My fear for letting him play those games stems more from messing with his innocence than whether he is mature enough to play them. Life is harsh. At times it can be down right cruel, and as parents isn’t it our job to protect them? Even when it’s obvious that we cannot? (I never said my argument was rational) Sometimes I forget that he is maturing at an alarming rate. Hell, he is a freshman next year. I still think of him as the tiny little guy that followed my every step. It’s quite hard to think of him as a young adult with his own opinions, stress, problems and hardships. I still have plenty of my own demons to deal with, how can I realistically help him navigate his? So will we let him play the mature games? Maybe. I’m not sure yet, but we will talk about it later after we are in the new house, and settled. Oh yeah the new house…that’s a whole ‘nother blogpost.
Bottom line is this: No matter how much I try, the reality is that Joey is getting older. And well, I guess am too.
Being a “social outcast” is an important social experience as well. Bring something to the lunch table conversation that’s unique, not a mainstream. 🙂
That is what I keep telling him. He different. Be strong, and don’t worry about what people think. (when he figures that out I hope he tells me how)
That’s a tough one. Protect his innocence and risk resentment, or start the process of chipping away at his innocence under supervison?
This is the dilemma!
Odd that you are asking your peers on what Joey should do with his peers. Halo is nothing more than a Lego Star Wars game with more graphics and better intensity. How is that game going to ruin his innocense? What innocense is being removed? Real innocene lost is when a kid in Africa sees his mother raped and father hacked with a machete. If innocense lost is a mindless video game then we’ve lost prespective on innocense. If he is a good kid the game will not change him and if it does stopped playing it. He’s past that impressionable age.
There is plenty of bloodshed in Halo and Call of of Duty. And enough that a 13 year old should not be exposed to. That’s why there are ratings. In fact there are many situations in the video games when very graphically people are hacked with machetes, executed at point blank range with pistols to the head, or slicing someone’s throat from behind. Thank you for proving my point. Innocence, and the loss of it is relative to where we live, and yes, exposure to these games will effect him. I know Joey is a responsible kid, with good morals and a very strong work ethic, and he is likely past the impressionable age on most things, but for M rated games that age is 17.
Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto are far more violent when compared to Halo. Halo is more cartoony. No machetes. No knives. No dismemberments. You kill aliens with fantastic weapons. It’s like playing a Star Wars: Clone Wars video game but without the Force.
I think if you get wrapped up in the rules you may miss the larger picture. A responsilble, non-violent kid at the age of 13 will probably not be affected by the violence and scariness if he plays a little bit here and there. To say that he will lose his innocence because of Halo is like saying he will lose his innocence if he reads Harry Potter or Star Wars (all of which have scary themes and violent ends). Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, I agree, are far too terrible even for late teenagers and if played too long and too often can change your preception of human value.
PG-13 movies and R movies still allow parents to make the descision on if and when their kids can see a movie. I believe some of your younger kids have watched PG-13 movies when they were years younger than they technically were alllowed to watch.
So, it comes down to what he can handle. If you think that he will violently act out or start damaging property after an hour of playing then surely he should not play. But if you think you will keep him gaurded from knowing about evil and the darkness of the world (aka his innocence), then . . . sorry . . . it’s already lost based on the similarity of Halo to what he’s alrready experienced at school and pop culture and his own imagination.
Good luck making your decision.
then why ask the question if you already know the answer?
I’ve done some research and thinking on this topic. Both of my kids want to play video games that are “M” rated as well. John is more likely to oblige them than I am. My feeling is that there are so many other outlets (including other video games) that are more appropriate than this one, and I try to steer them away as much as possible.
That being said, they are wanting it so badly, because it is forbidden, of course. Like the perverbial fruit. So this is indeed the dilemma. Bottom line for me: let them play some “M” rated games, but not others. They play with John if it’s a new game, and time is very limited. What I have learned is that not all “M” rated games are created equal. Some are less real and graphic than others. I would not let either of my kids play COD or Grand Theft Auto at this point, however, maybe Halo isn’t so bad. But no on-line play, period, as I believe this to be a great big playground of inappropriateness.
Studies do show that kids who are allowed to play some “M” rated games under the guidance of parents are okay. No adjustment/developmental problems. So, IMO, there’s no concrete “right” or “wrong” on this one, no magical age number (ie 17) at which a child is ready. Just a need for parental guidance, and limitations with some common sense sprinkled on top.
GREAT blog topic, BTW!!!