Children playing violent video games: a sign of neglect?

After reading a great article on 9 year olds who like to play COD, it’s highlighted a possibly very important connection between children and video games.

Now, I’m sure all us gamers have played video games rated way above what we should have been playing. For example, when I was around fifteen, I was allowed to play Grand Theft Auto. My favourite thing to do was to drive around in cars and smash them up so bad they blew up. Unsure why. Anyway, my parents have allowed me to play such games because I’ve always been seen as fairly mature for my age and my dad had an interest in video games. After all, GTA was his game. He knew what it was like but he also knew what I was like. I was never a problem child, I had an attitude problem when I hit a certain age but what teen doesn’t? In any case, there would be no way I would disrespect my parents. I’d be in big trouble.

The problem I’ve noticed with most under-age kids playing fifteen or eighteen rated games is that their parents don’t know or care what’s involved. Like the above article says, most of these kids are lonely, video games are their only outlet because their parents are too busy to bring them up or bond with them properly. I too have found this whilst working at GAME over Christmas. You’d see young children coming to the counter with their parents. They hand over a game. It’s a game they shouldn’t be playing. You’d warn the parent about the content of the game but they’re on the phone. They’re talking business. Money. So with a sad sigh to yourself, you just find the game and hand it over to them. It’s passed to their child, naturally. They’re still on the phone. They haven’t said a word to me or the child. I’d seen the child earlier on, they had to go get their parent just so they could buy the game. The parent is disinterested, at least it shuts their kid up right? I’d feel genuinely sorry for the child that walked off.

In Kingston, where I currently reside, that’s the kind of parents you see all the time. There’s a lot of rich families in Kingston so they buy their kids whatever they want, ignoring the big 18 in the corner of the box simply because it will keep their child out of their hair. Now I may be being judgemental here, but I worry this trend is true. If you’re at an extreme end of the scale, either poor or rich, you’re parents are more likely to neglect you, and as a result, video games are your only comfort. Twenty years ago, this comfort may have been something else. Video games aren’t to blame, they’re just a part of today’s culture. I understand how hard it is when your child is begging for a game because “all their friends are playing it”. Just the other day, a kid wanted Battlefield 3 so bad but his mum didn’t like him playing game where he was just killing people, which was understandable, he wasn’t even a teenager yet. I heard her concerns and let her know not only is it violent, but there’s a lot of bad language in there. She smiled and appreciated she was getting this information. If only more parents knew if you turned over any video game box, it tells you why it’s been giving that rating.

The point that article about the 9 year olds makes is that the kids who enjoy COD as their favourite game tended to be the “problem children”. Is that a link to the video game itself? Or does that show what sort of an environment they come from? It’s possibly a bit of both. No matter which way you look at it, a child of 9 should not be playing an 18 rated game but it’s perhaps time that people stopped jumping to conclusion that “it’s the games fault”. Instead they need to look at children and their backgrounds. I bet their family life isn’t quite right. Children who become bullies are often bullied by their parents. This issue could just be another example of that.