promoted 10 years 6 months ago, posted 10 years 6 months ago
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How do children differentiate between the real world and the fantasy world of TV and video games?
So thanks to my wife, my 4 year old son has developed a proficiency with Halo 3. He's gotten to the point where he's more than cannon fodder when we play system link. In fact, he can hold his own now against much, MUCH older players. He's no n00b at Call Of Duty, either. The problem is, I don't feel to great about this. Let me try to explain why.
For those of you who don't know me, I live in an area that is unbearably cold for about 6 months of the year. We don't travel a lot, since my wife and I both work. Since my son has not yet started school, he doesn't have a lot of opportunities to get out there and enjoy the real world, especially in the winter. What worries me is that he may be "learning" behaviours that he sees on TV or experiences in video games, and what he experiences in video games is mericless killing.
I don't mind Halo so much. Shooting weird aliens and Flood zombies cannot possibly be interpreted as real-world experience, even by a 4 year old. Call Of Duty, on the other hand, is different (no matter what my wife tells you). War is real. Real soldier die in real wars. Real guns do real damage. Of course in video games, there are few repercussions. My son will never hear the dead Germans' families mourning their sons. He'll never see the impact that war has on civilians. He has not had the opportunity to learn about World War II, the circumstances surrounding it, or the end result. For all he knows, people really do solve their conflicts with bullets and mortars.
It''s not like we don't try to tell him. I've explained to him that everything that he sees on TV should be assumed to be bullshit unless a reliable source tells him otherwise ( I dumbed it down quite a bit for him BTW). I've also told him something similar about video games, and I question him about the things that we see in those games. Stillo, I cannot help but wonder what effect these games are having on his ability to perceive reality. remember, this kid is 4 years old. he doesn't have any life experience whatsoever, so he has no standard with which to compare.
There are no video games which teach you to negotiate compromises. There are no games which recommend that you solve a conflict peacefully. Games are meant to entertain, not to educate. I don't want my son to go through life solving problems with his fists like his old man. It took me much too long to arrive at a proper conclusion with regard to conflict resolution, and I want my son to recognize the benefits of peaceful conflict resolution at an early age. yet video games, when introduced to children at this vulnerable age, seem to convey the opposite message.
I'm not one of those Christian Soldiers who calls for video game bans or anything like that, but I AM concerned when someone so young starts playing violent games. When I was growing up, we had no video games and only 13 channels on TV. My childhood was totally dissimil;ar to what kids thses days experience. So what to do? Well, I could really piss off my wife and kid by refusing to allow him to play these games. A bit extreme, i'd say. But what i'd like to do is get opinions from people who DID grow up with such things.
This new generation has had video games from birth until now. Those of you who were born after (say) 1990 may have been in a similar boat, with your own parents contemplating the ups and downs of video games. So what do you think? Is it outrageous to be concerned about a 4 year old playing a WWII simulator? This kid is too young to udnderstand an explanation of WWII, so it's hard to put the game into context. What effect could violent video games have on a 4 year old? Discuss.