Video Games 101: Summer Gaming Rules?

Looking to Mahwah moms for advice

Though summer often means more time outside for kids, many also use some of their newly found free time to play video games.

What are the gaming rules in your house? Do you utilize the ratings on games, or another system of determining what games are appropriate for your kids? Do you limit the amount of time they can play, or leave it up to them to decide?

Patricia Patella June 29, 2011 at 05:01 PM
The rules are simple in my house. No video games unless you've been outside to play for at least two hours or more. Once they come in, they can play video games for an hour. If I left it up to them, they would probably play all night long and with the ability to play other people from around the world the games are even more exciting which helps them lose track of time. Therefore, the emphasis in our house is on outdoor play time. The games we do have are age appropriate and I do look at the ratings. There are some games that are just too violent for children my age. There are plenty of age appropriate games for them to choose from. Tricia Patella Mom's Council
Suzanne Curry June 29, 2011 at 06:28 PM
My two sons are quick to point out the news segments on TV that show benefits to playing video games. I do agree they are probably rerouting messages throughout the brain but whether this is a positive or negative effect research in the next couple of decades will only be able to decipher. In the meantime I believe that there is no good that comes from sitting in front of a computer or TV screen screaming "get'em", "kill", "use another weapon" or some other similar phrase while nervously pushing thumbs onto a little control panel for hours at a time. Okay so maybe we are building a generation of humans with extremely strong thumbs, maybe for our species survival they'll get bigger as the pinky becomes smaller. I have sons, so I can only speak to the games that males gravitate towards. When they were young I followed the ratings conscientiously (still don't see how cartoon violence is for "everyone" though). I also steered clear of war games, though they made their way in to the house from friends until I found them. I did allow sci-fi violence, because to me that was about killing creatures and monsters and mother ships and not people, though my kids constantly told me "it's not real people, it's just a game." However, I was pretty strict. I even had arguments with my son when he turned 17 that just because it said "17" was allowed didn’t mean it was allowed in my house. – cont’d next box
Suzanne Curry June 29, 2011 at 06:29 PM
I have been following the arguments at the federal level about ratings and sales of violent games to children and I do agree with the outcome. I am proud to live in a free country, but with that comes more responsibility and it means that we need to be very informed about what we buy our children and what they have access to. If someone want their kids to spend hours learning how to steal animated cars than that is their choice. I do wonder however, if we are creating video gaming as a hobby for the rest of their lives. When the boys that are playing video games now become dads, will they be outside riding bikes with their sons or will they be inside playing Call of Duty 40 online with other dads? In a perfect world I would like to think that they will be playing video games with their sons, and that they will still fit in riding bikes and other traditional activities. I have never gravitated myself to these games. Tennis on Atari was probably the last game I got excited about, though I do enjoy some of the WII challenges. Though I have only had a few psych courses and are always trying to understand my sons from a female perspective, sometimes I think that perhaps the violent games are an outlet for their inborn testosterone-driven aggressive and survival instincts, since they no longer need to fend off tribes of hostile neighboring neanderthals or hunt for bison. - continued next box
Suzanne Curry June 29, 2011 at 06:32 PM
That being said, over the course of my two sons' teenage lives I have seen games go in and out of popularity and I have seen the amount of time put into gaming vary widely. It depends on what games friends are playing, and how much other activity and homework they have. I was really happy about 2 years ago when Pokemon on the DS came back in popularity with a group of Mahwah high school kids. That's a nice game with cute little creatures that's just fun, or maybe to me it was just the memories of my 5 year-old sons and their friends and how they proudly and happily they told me how they had trained another Pokemon to help them beat the Elite Four. Go Pikachu. Getting back to this summer, with more downtime, some kids are very apt to sit at that computer in their spare time or turn on the XBOX. I am always amazed to find just how many kids are on XBOX at 2 in the morning. Most mothers of boys that I know, if their child does gravitate towards gaming, have set rules about them. I have often heard "no games during the school week", or of allowing them only on certain days. This summer my younger son has been told no more than 2 hours a day on "League of Legends". He promises he will stick to it and he even found a program that will print out the actual times that he has been on it so he can show it to me. A week has gone by and I am still waiting for the printout. Good luck Moms !– Suzanne Curry - writing as a Member of the Mom's Council
Jessica Mazzola June 29, 2011 at 07:59 PM
Lauren Rosen, a member of the Mom's Council, emailed me the following with permission to reprint: "Although video games play a large role in some homes for recreational purposes, in mine they do not. I am not sure why my children never locked into the craze of video games, but they did not. We do have a system and some games, and occasionally my son plays them when he has friends over but certainly not enough to have rules. I do have students and friends children, however, who spend countless hours glued to the TV. I feel that there are some benefits to gaming, but certainly limits must be set. It's summer...get outdoors! and enjoy." -Lauren Rosen


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