I’m getting some fascinating pushback to my posts on this topic. I’ve decided to dome some serious reading on the topic and come back to it in the future. But I want to reiterate a larger point here that I think many of you are missing.
I’m not saying that violent video games are so devoid of negative ramifications that everyone should go play them whatever their age. They’re not appropriate for kids of all ages. They are rated, and parents should use discretion and smarts in allowing their children to be exposed to them. I don’t think anyone is contesting that 5 year olds should not be playing Call of Duty, and that parents who allow it are making a questionable decision.
But what I’m hearing in public discussion right now is that some people believe that video games are so bad for kids that we need to think about going further than this. We need to go further than the rating systems and an appeal to parenting.
What will they do? Coming up with sanctions? Ban them? Shall we put them in a pile and burn them?
It should come as no surprise that after playing hours of first person shooters that kids are thinking “aggressive thoughts”. What matters is if they act on them. When I watch The Walking Dead, I admit it disturbs me. I don’t let my kids watch that. But the line is different for everyone. My daughter watched Annie when she was five, and she had nightmares about Miss Hannigan for a week. She got over it. It’s part of growing up.
When you get all fired up about video games and kids, what do you want? Seriously, answer the question. Do you want parents to think harder about how they parent? That’s fine, but don’t go to Congress to get that done. If you’re looking for something from them, it’s regulations and laws. What are they? Will you censor?
I admit I’m incredibly uncomfortable with that. Many of my favorite books contain violence, and the thought of people coming for them is absolutely chilling. I’m speaking as a pediatrician and a father, as well as an American. Censorship is going nuclear.