A Christian Parent’s Guide To Understanding Video Games Effects
Video games have been a hot button issue since Magnavox Odyssey’s introduced their home console and the game Pong came out in the 1970s. Some parents believe that video games (violent ones in particular) pollute the imagination, promote aggression and can even diminish social skills. Others argue that in the right context video games can be beneficial.
With the video game industry now worth more than $10 billion and more than 67% of U.S. households claiming to play video games (ESRB, 2010), Christian parents need to assess if spending time with this medium is a positive or negative pastime for their children.
Here are some important considerations for the Christian parent who is seeking to understand video games and their effects:
1st - Explore Both Sides of the Story
While some video games have been consistently cited in studies about the link between video game effects and real-world violence, other video games have proven to be a viable means of education. Video games’ effect on players is a very complex subject that should be researched before it is fully dismissed or accepted.
I heard a great discussion on Moody Radio in which Dr. Kevin Schut (author of Of Games & God) and Adam Holz (associate editor of Plugged In) debate violent video games. You can listen to the broadcast by clicking here.
2nd - Be aware of what games are in your house
This might seem like a simple step, but understanding what games your child is playing is very important. This means more than simply picking up the game case: you might consider having your child demonstrate the game for you or maybe even playing it yourself. This way you can gain a clear understanding of what the objective of the game is, as well as what content your children are being exposed to.
3rd - Set Limitations on Video Game Time
In 2010 the Kiser Family Foundation (2010) reported that children aged 8-18 spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes per day accessing entertainment media, including playing video games. Parents should ask themselves the question, What is the fruit that grows out of this use of time? There are many Bible verses that speak about time being spent wisely. Every moment you spend has a purpose; maybe it is to work, learn, or rest. While video games and screen time might not be immediately harmful, everything should be done in moderation and at the appropriate time.
Understanding the effects of video games, both positive and negative, is an important topic that is worth exploring, especially if you are a Christian parent to several boys, like me. Here are some recommendations about video games that I have found to be harmful and some that I have found to be helpful:
- Fallout: New Vegas
- Halo: Reach
- Naughty Bear
- Kane and Lynch 2: Dog Days
- LarryBoy and the Bad Apple
- Math Blaster (phone app)
- Endless Alphabet (iphone app)
- Endless Reader (iphone app)
As we move closer to Christmas, you may be wondering whether or not to give your child video games as a gift. I hope that this article has helped you by suggesting important points to consider when you are wondering about video game effects.