Over the weekend I responded to a tweet about parent’s groups complaining about adult themed video games. It got a surprising number of likes and responses, when I said the following:
Absolutely. As a Dad with 4 kids, I watch closely to the ESRB ratings when my kids bring up new games they are interested in.
— MDMRN (@MDMRN) June 12, 2017
I’ll be honest. I didn’t think a random comment I made on a Sunday night deserved the number of likes it received. It even got comments stating that the fact that I confirm the rating of new video games before I let my kids play them makes me one of the few good parents out there. If that’s the bar for parenting these days, then this is a sad world indeed.
I have been playing video games since I was a child. It began with the original Nintendo Entertainment System in our home in the late 80s as I first started school. It was amazing, being able to interact with the cartoonish characters I saw upon the screen. To this day, I still play video games but apart from the most recent excursions into the Pokemon universe, I don’t play a lot of newer games on my own. I do, however, play some games with my children.
I have four kids ranging in ages from 8 to nearly 3 years old (twins who turn 3 in July). Before letting them play any video game or, quite frankly, view any form of media I want to make sure it’s going to be appropriate for them. In my article at Yatta-Tachi about introducing kids to anime, I said as much then about anime:
My four children are elementary school aged and younger. They range from my oldest who’s almost 8 to my youngest which are twin 2-year-olds turning 3 in July. At those ages, I have to be aware of what I am introducing to them. While some shows may be inappropriate for my younger children, it may be perfectly fine to show your 12-year-old. Perhaps there is language I do not want my children to hear, read, or repeat! What I show my kids may not be the same as what you may show an older child.
When it is possible, I like to watch at least a few episodes of a new series I’m considering showing my children first, to ensure the content will be appropriate…
What media my kids absorb matters and I need to be sure that I’m aware of what they’re watching, reading, or playing. When possible, I like to play games first before letting my kids play them, or at the very least talk to people I know and trust who have played the game. Some games may be rated T and be perfectly fine for my 8 year old to play (ex. old Street Fighter games, Tatsunoko vs Capcom), while others may not. Others may include foul language I do not want my children repeating. Others may be too violent or have sexual innuendo I do not want my very young children to see. However, maybe I can explain and discuss it fine with them when they’re a little older.
With all this said – this is a basic parenting responsibility. Making sure you know what your children are watching, reading, or playing is your responsibility as a parent. It’s not the industry’s responsibility. It’s not the government’s responsibility. It’s yours. You are the parent. You are the one ultimately responsible for these amazing little people. Take it seriously and pay attention to what your kids are doing because no one else is going to do it for you.