Debate of the Day: How Much Do You/Will You Let Your Kids Game?

I feel old asking this question, but I’m getting to the age where I’m far closer to having kids than being one. Granted that’s a long ways off still, but hey, I thought we’d engage some of the non 19-year old readers of our site today. Though if you’re 19 and have a kid who’s old enough to play video games, mad props.

I guess I wonder how life works when people who are gamers themselves start raising kids. Like I can play a few hours a day since I’m an adult and my formative years have passed, but for my theoretical kids? I don’t know. I kind of want to strictly limit media time for them to avoid brain rotting like my parents did for me. Granted, perhaps thats why I rebelled and started doing this for a living….but that’s beside the point.

But I also think that playing games with your kids is probably a good way to bond with them as well. Like my parents aren’t from a generation that grew up with games, but we are, and I think it could be a new way of connecting joining the old school “throw a ball around in a yard” activity and others like it.

Separate but related question. When do you let your kid start playing more “adult” games. Like do they need to be 13 to start playing “T” titles or 17 for “M,” or will you be a bit more lenient so long as the M-rated title is like, Halo Reach and not Duke Nukem Forever where you’re playing capture the flag by kidnapping women and slapping their asses.

So yeah, open questions for parents/potential parents out there. How does/will gaming factor into raising your kids?

  • I would actually play the games myself before letting them play. Nothing with gore or nightmare inducing gameplay. I wouldn’t let any kid under the age of 12 play any of the Call of Duty games single player campaign, multiplayer is another story, just withouth a headset.

    You just have to read and be well informed. I will not be too sever though, having played Doom at my tens and still haven’t killed anybody for that matter. When I know he understands that it’s a game, just fantasy, he’ll be allowed to play anything.

  • I am friends with a couple of gamers who have the coolest kids! They started them out young on nes systems and the kids are ALL ABOUT mario, ninja turtles, etc. It’s great. They have 3 kids, the smaller two only play the old systems, where as the older one plays whatever. They are all incredibly smart and super cool. The parents are good though.

    I have also seen friends totally neglect their babies for MMO games… It’s sad and unfortunate. The babies are incredibly sweet and have learned to basically keep themselves entertained. It pisses me off to no end. I hate seeing a completely filthy baby in a cage behind parents who can’t take their eyes off their screen. So sad.

    Then I have another friend who lets their kids play ANYTHING. It almost turns my stomach seeing what’s on the screen for the 6 year old (incredibly violent war games). Those I think should be completely restricted until the kid is old enough to handle it. Just because he likes it and it doesn’t give him nightmares, doesn’t mean it’s good for him.

    I think games are great for kids, but as parents, we must do what we can to keep our kids healthy. Just like junk food, a parent must limit the kid because they aren’t going to say no to gaming (or candy!).

    If you have problems limiting yourself, maybe you should wait on having kids. Until you can put your kids as first and foremost priority, just use a damn condom. /rant

  • Mikey

    I don’t have kids yet, but when I do, they’ll start off with what I started with. I’ll have them grow up with the NES, SNES, PS1, etc. I want them to appreciate old school games first (also I love playing those games) and violent games don’t matter on those systems because they weren’t really violent. I’ve played Mortal Kombat since I was 8 years old and I don’t have violent tendencies, probably because it’s so unrealistic. I also played Doom and the PS1 Duke Nukem, which I thought was amazingly hilarious, when it first came out.

    I will not let my kids play M-rated FPS’s until they are in their mid-teens. Well, at least not shitty ones like COD, because they bring out the worst in people.

    But, I’m pretty sure I’ll be a gamer til the end, so I’ll probably get games that I want to play and play them with my kids. This debate can also go with R-rated movies, which I’ll probably let my kids watch those too (when they get to the appropriate age). It’s all about being smart about what you let your kids see/play, according to their age. Don’t buy an 8-year old COD and a headset, you fucking retards

  • Steve

    I’ll be doing with my kids the same thing my friends plan on doing with their kids. Raise them on the old school stuff we were raised on (NES, SNES, and Sega). Then as they get older we’ll introduce them to the later stuff. I’ll probably let them play nintendo until they’re about 5-6 and feel they’re ready for games with more buttons. Probably get them into ps1 and n64 when they’re about 10 or so. Then finish it off with the newer systems by the time they’re 13.

  • George

    Wow, I feel I have to post!

    I have a 5 and a 3 year old. I grew up on classic gaming, and am one of those 30 year old guys who still plays them…

    This largely happened because I realized that I didn’t want to exclude my kids from game play, and the hot titles were mostly way to rough.

    My PS2 and Wii are the only things that get play now, and almost always the retro collections. The funny thing is, I seriously have the best time replaying the NES-PS1 period games… maybe its nostalgia, maybe not! The best part is, I know my kids will know where all the warp whistles, magicite and heart containers are.. somehow that makes me very proud!!

  • My spousal alternative and I are big gamers. Back in the day we actually had to buy a second gaming computer because we were always fighting over game time. We would take days off work so that we could play a new game till we dropped. We were very happy…for almost 20 years…and then? We were surprised with a beautiful baby boy.

    We started him off with Leapster (which for those of you without kids is like a PSP, but the games are almost always educational). Leapster is possibly the best money spent, we had a 2 hour commute daily and this kept him entertained, and is one of the reasons I think he starting reading so early (the other is that we read constantly…at least when we aren’t playing video games). Next PS2 E games and Meh, I was really surprised at how difficult it was to find decent games that my boy could 1) play or 2) didn’t suck. Life with a new child is a bit overwhelming so I can confess that perhaps I did not investigate enough. But I kept thinking where the hell are the designers my age? Don’t they have kids yet? We stopped playing M games as our son was a crappy sleeper and I thought he didn’t need to see mama cackling with glee as she decapitated someone.

    Then came the Wii, fun games for him, decent enough games for us. Have you played Munchables? FANTASTIC, if you have kids you have got to get this game, you won’t mind playing it and kids can master it.

    Our son has tried a few T games, but says they give him nightmares (ok maybe the nightmare came from me battling goblins in HOMM, but he also won’t watch TV/Movies with live action. He said that he had trouble remembering that it isn’t real.) We are ok with that.

    He is now 6 and Santa this year brought us the X-Box 360 (and DRAGON AGE, Fable 2 , Oblivion, Assassin’s Creed…and games with BLOOOOOD ) oh and we got kinectimals, kinect adventures, Ben 10 something, Bakugan something else…

    I honestly don’t know what I will do when he gets older and wants to play Call of Duty and the like. I personally have a problem with kids (specifically mine, I could care less what you do with your kids) playing games that showcase killing human beings. I guess I will just have to cross that bridge when I come to it. Hopefully I can train him to kill aliens, or goblins or…monsters.

    Right now I have to figure out when to cave into my son’s need for the DS.

    Now with all this you may wonder if my boy is ok in the head, or a couch potato. He’s been reading since he was 4, has a crazy ass imagination, big fan of board games and card games (Bakugan, Pokemon etc.) loves to swim and is playing soccer this spring. The strongest punishment we can give is to take away his video game time. We have only had to do it once or twice. As it is, during the week he is spending at most 2-2.5 hours a day watching TV, playing video games, eating, and just playing. During the weekends, especially this winter we have spent far more time playing video games. But he also gets tired of playing/watching video games. He will turn the TV off and say “can you play with me” (this is also the same boy that when offered ice cream for breakfast said “no thank you I want peas” maybe there is something wrong with him…)

    In conclusion, gaming creators, start making babies, and then bring on the games!

  • Mike

    I have a 6 year old daughter, and she loves playing Starcraft 2. She has a DS, but isn’t really all that interested. I think back to when i was a kid, and remember all the violent cartoons I’d watch. The games and cartoons are a lot more violent now mine you, but for some reason, it doesn’t really bother me to let her watch and play some of them.

    I have watched my daughter’s behavior and made sure she knows what’ right and wrong. She knows what’s appropriate behavior and what isn’t. She isn’t violent, and I’ve never heard her use bad language.

    She’s not really at the age where she’s swamped with homework, but I still limit her screen time to about an hour or so a day. I figure when she gets older, as long as her grades aren’t suffering, and she isn’t overweight, she can play all the games she wants.

  • PS72

    I let my kids (both girls 11 and 12) play pretty much anything I play if they can handle it (they will watch but not play Dead Space 2). They’re really into Minecraft – but we’re talking about more adult titles right? They play CODBlops the weekends I have them (they’re all about the Combat Training) and GTA at their mom’s (stealing cars and shooting the occasional cop – no biggie). Allowing them to play these games is a conscious decision because they’re mature enough to understand the difference between gaming and the real world and the games aren’t raising them – we are – the games are just entertainment. I think you could also talk about movies here. They’ve seen and love Shaun of the Dead and other movies that typically wouldn’t appeal to someone that age (Zombieland, Paul, and Kick Ass for example).
    I think my kids are of the first generation where “gamer girls” are going to be the rule rather than the exception – and I think that’s a good thing!

    I think they need more protection from the advertising than the games. At that age they are easily taken in by the flashy ads and will want games (like SIMS on the iPhone) that turn out to be crap, and had they checked with me ahead of time (when they’re staying with their mom) I could have saved them the grief of wasting their money on garbage. I guess that’s a lesson we all have to learn. I’m trying to teach them to research their purchases, whether it’s a game/toy/movie ahead of time to avoid the burrrrrn.

  • chris

    I plan on starting my kids out the way I got introduced. At 5 or so you’ll get the orignal NES next year a Super Nintendo then 64 and so on until I introduce them to whatever microsoft has out in 10 years. A knowledge and appreciation of what came before needs to be in place before you are privy to the technology of today.

  • Chandamyaya

    The first console we’ve owned since we had our daughter (who is eleven) is Xbox 360 — we got it a couple of years ago, and she started out playing Lego Indiana Jones and Star Wars and Kung Fu Panda which came with it. Also, SSX3, which we still love to play (Why won’t they come out with a 360 version? Whyyyyyyyy?).

    Our daughter is finally being allowed to play Halo with us — she especially loves Reach. And she’s pretty darn good at thinking strategically and working as a team. We have also started letting her play DOA4 (although we don’t let her watch the videos, and she thinks it’s silly that you can see the girls’ panties sometimes).

    We don’t let her play Gears of War or Left 4 Dead, two of our favorites.

    She pwns everyone at SSX3.

    On PC she’s allowed to play Morrowind, although we had a discussion with her that one of the weaknesses of the game is that you HAVE to steal things to complete many of the quests. She loves Age of Mythology, although rather than play the game, she goes on the Map Editor and creates scenarios from the Percy Jackson books.

    Her “screen time” (computer, TV, Xbox, etc) is limited to one hour a day, with two hours a day on weekends, and she can carry it over (so if she wants to save it up and play all day Saturday, she can). Really though, she loves to ride her bike and play in her clubhouse, so we’re not too concerned with her becoming a vegetable.

    Of course, those screentime restrictions don’t apply to us, so after she goes to bed, its four hours of killing zombies for my husband and I! 😉 Speaking of … it’s Zombie Time …

  • T.R.

    My parents banned video game consuls from our house when I grew up. Apparently, they became addicted to Atari for a period of a month and decided video game consuls were the devil (figuratively speaking; we’re pretty secular).

    We had a computer since 1985, the same year I was born, and so I eventually got into computer gaming. My parents begrudgingly accepted the transition away from educational games like learning company games, Carmen Sandiego, Reader Rabbit, Numbers Munchers, Math Blaster to more entertainment based games. I started to buy non-educational games on my own and borrow them from friends. Kings Quest, Quest for Glory, Boulder’s Gate, Doom, Diablo–those were the closest thing I could get to a home consul.

    My dad would complain that we turned our computer into a “gameboy,” a word he always said with dripping disdain. In fact, my dad calls ever gaming consul to this day a gameboy.

    I love my parents, but I feel jealous of my friends who grew up playing consul games and who got to watch movies rated above PG. When you’re not allowed to game at home, you miss out on some formative, shared cultural experiences. To this day, certain video game references go over my head. For instance, I skip every pokemon post on this site.

    I would play smash brothers, SoulCalibur, mortal combat, etc, at friends houses after school, but I never could obtain their level of mastery without a consul of my own. Also, when in larger groups, I generally would just opt out and watch as it felt unfair to deprive others/bore them with my non-competitive gaming. Then college came, and we played so often in the dorms and at drunken house parties that I caught up.

    I definately will let my kids watch whatever and play whatever they want with few restrictions. Shared cultural experiences encourage social interaction. I don’t want to sound like I was some sort of cultural pariah. I always was respectably popular.

    I have friends who were raised with a no-restrictions to media type of philosophy and they have no shortcoming to their character or intellect albeit they’re perhaps less erudite when it comes to academics. I read a lot as a kid and will encourage that in my kids as well. Still, watching R rated movies allows kids to learn about many things I remained ignorant of far longer and not necessarily to my benefit. To me, it’s about balance.

  • Blackpill

    I was so proud when he killed his first hooker in San Andreas!

  • Kevin

    I have 2 boys, 17 and 9, both own a ps3 and Pc. my oldest used to play alot but has since acquired a girlfriend so doesn’t play as much as he used to (which was a fair bit). My youngest does play but not as much as the older one through his own choice, he owns games like bf2 and mw2 but seems to prefer playing little big planet. I have my own ps3, snes, atari, n64, ps1 and ps2 all of which has been played by my children. I play BF3, Dead Island both my children have played both of these games, infact they are, i suppose experienced gamers given the wide variety of consoles and games they have played. I know there are those who would disapprove of children playing games with an age rating that is older than they are but both my children know that what they do on the console is purely for entertainment and has no link to reality what so ever. But I guess any restrictions you impose on children is for their own good if they show signs of letting these things affect them. My youngest is allowed to play until 5pm on a weekday as he has school and 6pm on Fridays and Saturdays he goes to bed 8pm weekdays and 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays.