Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Please Stop Violent Video Games from Entering Your Home

It's nearly a month now since the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary, and the issue of curbing gun violence is slowly receeding from the forefront of people's minds.  All kinds of proposals have been put forth, but I want to talk about two that I like.  One idea I heard on WNYC was to require guns to be registered like cars, and require gun owners to carry a license, in all states.  Admittedly, guns and cars are different things, but the host of the program I was listening to made the point about how it is nearly impossible to conduct a business trafficking stolen cars.  Even I know better than to buy a car, even a great two-year old Mazda at a fantastic price, without a valid registration. 

Listen, I know your child wants to play this.
He really, really wants to play this. 
There's a lot of things that your child
would like to do that you don't allow,
like stay out until 4 a.m. and skip school
and eat only candy, chips and nachos.  Is that
what you want for your children?
But the violence-reducing proposal I support the most, and the one that I would personally, as a teacher, reap the most benefits from, is to reduce or eliminate the use of violent video games by minors.  Until America smartens up and decides to legislate these games, parents, you need to make wiser choices about what toys you allow your children to play.  I know it doesn't make you popular, and it will most likely require more work on your part, but having easy access to such mindless and potentially dangerous imagery is not something that we should allow impressionable juveniles to while away countless hours of their precious childhood.  Force them to try their hand at sculpting superheroes, learn to play the mandoline, weed the garden, volunteer at a shelter, build a skate park in the yard, train a squirrel to run an obstacle course, bake a sponge cake, or, if you absolutely must, have them at least run around the backyard pretending to shoot eachother the old fashioned way, with imagination.  If they must be violent, at least they'll be getting exercise.  There is literally a million and one other things that they could be doing.  Not only will avoiding Assassin's Creed increase their creativity, it will improve yours, as you will need to come up with a worthwhile pastime for them.  I don't have a problem with children playing Dance, Dance Revolution or Madden NFL 13, per se (actually, I sort of do have a problem, but less so), but blowing people up is not an activity for young ones.  I can't imagine that this opinion is in the minority!
If you have better judgement than to
allow a baby to play with a gun, then
you should have enough sense to not
allow children to perpetrate violence
virtually


So, parents, in the wake of tragedy such as the one in Connecticut, when you wonder, "what can I do?", take action in your own home.  Violent video games do not axiomatically lead to mass murder, but it does lead to attention span problems, callous disregard for the plight of others, and children who cannot come up with any other activity that engages them, which is a tragedy in and of itself.  Please, throw away those shoot-em-up games! 

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