Video Games Are Not the Devil

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Video games get a bad rap, to the point that moms think their children should never play them. I’m going on record to say: Video games are not the devil.

Video Games are not the Devil | Life as Mom

It took me a long time to learn this lesson, but here I am, going on record: Video games aren’t all bad, and I’m okay with my kids playing them.

For years I felt guilty that my kids loved video games. I had to justify this passion by saying that they used their own money to buy the gaming systems and most of the games. My money did not fund it!

For years I was sheepish about how much time they played, let alone that they played. I figured they should probably play less than they did no matter how much that was because I felt the cultural pressure and assumption that it was a bad thing.

But, you know what? Mine is a video game playing family. My husband enjoys gaming as much as my kids do. And they’re pretty awesome people.

Video Games Are Not the Devil

I figured I’d just fess up: I don’t think video games are the devil.

It’s not cool in the world of online moms to admit you let your kids play video games, but mine do. And I think they’re good kids.

I do not think you need to do what we do. You need to make the decision that is best for YOU, YOUR family, YOUR life, YOUR conscience. But, I also want to reach a new level of honesty with you as well as respect for my family who is passionate about video games.

Here are a few of my observations about video games. Take them with a grain of salt. My ways are not necessarily your ways. But these are the things I’ve learned in the last decade since video games entered my home.

1. Kids like video games.

Kids like video games. I’ve never met a child, girl or boy, who would shun them if offered the opportunity to play. Sure they might not like certain kinds of games or gaming systems, but generally speaking, screen-based games are fun for kids. For adults, too.

2. Just because you don’t understand the fascination, doesn’t make it bad.

This statement does not apply to sinful fascinations, things you and I know are inherently wrong. I don’t believe video games or playing video games falls into that category, so I need to say that just because we don’t share the interest or fascination in video games (or football or classical music) doesn’t make it stupid, uninteresting, or wrong by nature. It’s cool if it’s not your cup of tea, but it’s not bad, in and of itself.

video games

3. Video games, by themselves, do not create violent people.

The media would say that if I let my kids play video games that they will grow up to be violent and/or unintelligent people. So far, I’m not seeing that play out with my husband or with my kids. They are bright, curious, kind, generous, responsible people.

They might be developing some eyesight issues, but violence is not their problem.

While I think there probably is a correlation between video games and violent behavior, I also know that correlation is not causation.

I watched years and years of unsupervised television (in the 70s and 80s!)

4. Video games can be educational.

There are plenty of video games, particularly those for the iPad that are educational. But, I’ve also seen how even PS3/PS4 games are historically based and teach our kids a thing or two. I’ve been in a museum in Europe looking at a painting when a child explains who the subject is and says that he learned it playing Uncharted. Who knew?

5. Trusting your husband is a good thing.

I suppose this comes with an asterisk. Not all husbands are loving and responsible and want what’s best for their kids. But, if you know that yours does, then it is a good thing to trust him. Many dads love and understand the video game fascination. I know mine (who has our kids’ best interests in mind) knows more about gaming than I do!

Communication is key here. Talk about your concerns, ask questions, and then trust his decisions. This has worked well when I have the humility to do it, though I must confess, it’s taken me awhile to get to this place regarding video games. #slowlearner

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6. Building trust with your kids is worth it.

I can trust my kids. We’ve raised them to be worthy of trust.

I want to inspire my kids to greatness and part of that is knowing when they are old enough to make certain decisions on their own, video game or otherwise, and letting them do that, even if I think they might make a mistake.

I trust that they won’t allow themselves to become addicted to video games, but they also know that I will intervene and work to protect them if they don’t make good choices for themselves.

7. Video game parameters are good.

Parameters are always a good thing. In order to curb the vision issues that plague our screen generation, we encourage breaks. We encourage a variety of activities. We have a device curfew when all devices need to be shut down. We occasionally hold media fasts to make sure no one’s passion is carrying him away.

8. Video games can be a form of bonding between children and between parents and kids.

Video games have provided a means of bonding between my kids and between them and my husband. On the rare occasions when I play (Mario Kart, please), I’m able to enter their world and learn from them. We engage together.

9. No one should have a steady diet of video games.

I don’t think video games are bad unless that’s all a child does. But, if all a child did was swim or eat or sleep, I’d be concerned. We need a variety of experiences to enrich a childhood and a life.

How does your child fill his day? If his life experiences are varied and rich, a few rounds of a video game are not going to kill his brain cells.

These are the conclusions I’ve come to over the years, as regards video games. As I said at the beginning, our ways are not your ways. We’ve made certain choices for our family — to allow ample time for gaming. That may not fly at your house, and I totally get that. But, here’s one mom’s perspective regardless.

Did you play video games as a child?

How did you turn out?

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  1. Thank god this helped bc I’m fighting a subreddit that HATES gaming, they are simple minded so this helps

  2. My parents are the type of people who literally believe video games are the devil. They have said it aloud to me many times. I’m a 15 year old boy. I go to school every day and do all my work in my advanced courses. I come home after soccer practice every day and do my 1-2 hours of nightly homework. And to tpp it all off… I’m a straight A student wth a 96 avg. (4.0 GPA) And yet, I’m not allowed to play video games at ALL. None. Zero. I don’t even own a console. I’m also not allowed to even spend MY OWN MONEY to buy video games. They are rock hard on the subject and claim that I’m “addicted.” Now of course, when they are available, I play them. I play PC games on a small laptop I own. Now, I’m not allowed to be on the computer unless I ask permission and I’m doing something OTHER than a game. When I was younger, I was allowed to play them a little. Now, keep in mind, I live on a street filled with the elderly. We only have old folks and adults on my whole road. There are no kids on my road. So, there’s absolutely NOTHING to do outside at my house. So my options are video games or TV. If I watch TV all day long, they don’t care or say a word to me. If I touch a video game even one time, they scream “addicted.” So, when I was younger, and i played a little, I had nothing better to do unless we got to go somewhere or unless i had a scheduled event such as practice for a sport. I didn’t have anything to do around my house, but I did have a very active life mixed with many different things, and I still do. I don’t know what to do. There’s no way to tell them anything. If i even bring up the subject, they get angry! What do I do? Can someone please tell me something to tell them or something that I can do to make them undrstand? They’re just being stubborn and unreasonable!

    1. Hi William. My apologies for the delay in replying. I was searching for some encouraging words. I’m not sure what to tell your parents. As a mom, I can understand wanting to protect my son and having his best interests in mind. As a former teenager and one who was a good student and did all the right things but still had very strict parents, I can understand your predicament.

      My best advice is to talk with them in a calm rational way. Presumably, you’d be done with your homework, your chores would be done, and they could see that you weren’t looking to goof off to escape your responsibilities. I don’t recommend watching TV all day. My guess is that if you had other activities and some freedom to pursue them, you wouldn’t feel quite so bored. Perhaps you can think of some alternative activities to mention in your discussion.

      In three years you’ll be able to make more decisions for yourself and the temptation will be great to “make up for lost time”. I recommend not doing that, but keep your head on your shoulders. It sounds like you’re pretty reasonable. Hopefully, your parents see that and will be willing to dialogue about all this.

  3. I have 3 sons. Ages 13,13,11. They have all the newest video games and systems. They also play a ton of sports- football, wrestling, track and baseball AND they work for a few neighbors on our street (snow shovel, take trash to curb, mow lawn, pick up dog poop, etc…). Since we bought their first video game we made it a rule that no games Monday-Thursday. Only Friday night, Saturday morning and night, Sunday morning. They have to have their chores done too. They get a lot of crap from their friends because their friends can play games anytime. I am fine with them playing but they need to focus on school. They all make straight As. Plus they are in academic clubs. It is an even balance. Now snow days, holidays and even when they stay home from school sick they can play. I work overnight and work a couple weekends a month. If their chores are done then they can play all day while I sleep. It helps them be entertained and not be loud. I am not strict on their genre of games because they understand the difference in reality and a game. I think games and the amount of time games should be played depends on the kiddo. Each kid is different.

  4. First time commenter. My boys love video games too. We allow our older boys an hour a day – just enough time to let them get a good crack at it, but not enough to turn them into zombies. We’ve had weekends where we have allowed them to play for 2-3 hours and they completely UNCORK after the TV goes off. All that energy and stimulation turns them into manic hurricanes. We’ve found that keeping it at an hour or so is much more manageable. They fill their tanks, but aren’t totally off-kilter afterwards.

    Another rule we’ve developed is any emotional outbursts or fighting result in the TV going OFF. “It sounds like you need a break.” We also use it to our advantage when we need a lull in the action. For example, we allow them to play for an hour after my husband gets home from work and is transitioning back into “home mode”. It takes the pressure off and allows him to decompress a bit. We also have a house rule: no TV or video games allowed during the day. As a homeschooling family, this gives our fellas the entire day at home to create their own scenarios, following ideas and play. And because TV/games aren’t an option, they don’t even ask. Nor is it a temptation. Once the evening hours come and chores are done, then they have the opportunity to play or watch. Setting expectations make everything so much easier.

    But I agree – I have had some anxiety over their interest in video games. It isn’t my ideal picture of what I wanted my children to be “into”, but I’ve had to adjust my idealism into a picture of reality and just chill out. They play with each other and they play with my husband. Just because I have no interest doesn’t mean it is bad. And you’re right: trusting my husband is a very good thing. I liked a select number of video games as a kid but have zero interest in it as an adult, while he actually enjoys playing with them. And like another commenter said, controls need to be in place to maintain a healthy relationship. Just like anything else.

  5. My husband loves video and computer games. My 2 sons do too. My boys are 7 & 9. But, despite loving games, they very very very rarely get to play. We move 2.5 years ago and still haven’t set up the Wii or X box and here’s why: My boys have no self control of emotional control when it comes to video games. My oldest will pee his pants to avoid pausing a video game. They get angry and emotional if asked to stop playing. So at this point, until they mature a bit more, we’re opting for bike riding and legos instead of video games, and Dad only plays when they are asleep (if at all). That being said, I don’t think there is anything wrong with playing video games some, if your kids can handle it. Mine can’t yet.

  6. My kids play on a variety of devices, too, and they have since they were small. We limit their time (normally 30 minutes/day for the younger 2, 60 minutes/day for the oldest.) The exception is on travel days- 12 hour flight & you want to do games for 12 hours. That’s OK.

    Even with that, there are many days that they don’t play or don’t play that amount of time. I agree that you need to have time limits and limits to the types of games. But they are something that can be enjoyable, and even educational at times. Even though I am tempted just to set absolutes for the kids, I would rather have my kids learn to manage their time and their interests and how to make choices. I think this is a good area to learn some of those things.

  7. My kids play games on a variety of electronic devices — kindle, Wii, 3DS and cell phones. It’s amazing the number of electronics they have collected over the past few years as birthday and Christmas presents. My oldest saved her money to buy her own laptop. We have rules about video games that they must abide. All games must be parent approved before playing. All electronics must be shut down COMPLETELY at bedtime. School and homework come first. Under no circumstances are electronics allowed at the dinner table. There is a time and place for everything. Unless we are going on a road trip, the only electronic that leaves the house is the cell phone. We have had the same rule about all toys since we brought them home from the hospital. We have never let our children take toys to church, out to eat, grocery shopping, or anywhere else. If they had to have something to entertain themselves while we were out it was either a book or a sketch pad and drawing pencils. I don’t see how video games are any different than television, movies or going online — they can be good or bad and it’s up to us as parents to help our children navigate their use and learn to recognize quality from trash.

  8. This is a great post, and I agree with it. We also put time limits, and breaks, on my son playing video or computer games. It can be a bonding moment – he and his older brother play video games together on Saturday afternoon. We regulate the kinds of games the kids can play, and my kids are really good kids, and we do trust them to play the right things.

  9. My kids like video games too. My husband will play the games with them sometimes and it’s fun for all. We have rules so they that have time for other activities such as school, outside sports, church activities, friends, family, life skills, outdoor time, etc. With all “fun” things, you have to keep things in check. People can overdo watching sports, shopping, social media. It’s a balance. I think talking about limits as a family is a good life skill. Games can be educational too. My kids love Minecraft. Like your kids, the older kids have additional games they like to play. We talk about what is acceptable and we watch them play at times. Yes, you build trust also. My husband and I played PacMan when we were kids. And, interestingly enough, I grew up in a home with several TVs and my husband grew up with no television. I am now not as attracted to television as he is! Balance is the key. 🙂