Is ___ OK for my 8-year old?

BRENDA (a grandmother) WRITES: My grandson is playing Halo with his dad on his visit and buying him the toys also.  His mom said he can play Halo when he is sixteen and get the toys at 10.  Is playing Halo at eight harmful?

The answer may surprise you.

Thanks for the letter. First of all, the reader is asking about Halo: Reach but this BLANK can stand in for almost any M-rated game, so I thought I’d give a less specific answer.

I do not believe that any video games poses lasting harm to children. At all. Studies show “increased short-term aggression.” Other things that cause increased short-term aggression are:  football, watching sports, E-rated games, scary movies, etc., So what’s really happening with your 8-year old is that he’s becoming desensitized to FAKE violence (real violence is anther thing entirely) and thats fun because he’s feeling like a grown-up man or a “big boy” because he’s playin’ with dad. Bonding with Dad. Mainly, “having fun with Dad.”

And that’s the take away for you Brenda (and other concerned mom’s and grandmas). It’s not ideal, at all, but in this case it is Dads call. Or take the case of my 8-year old boy. I won’t let him play M-rated games but he can at a friend’s house – whether I like it or not. Kids today are SURROUNDED by questionable media – much more so then 10 years ago. (I don’t see any evidence of kids being affected over that time and more). I’ve told reminded and reminded the parents of Henry’s friends not too allow it, they do anyway and  either because they don’t care, gotten tired of saying ‘no’, or, through experience, don’t believe they cause any harm (this is by far the biggest reason). As I say, it isn’t ideal, at all. Kids that young can’t process story or put the violence in context – but that doesn’t mean kids will be traumatized. I say this with confidence, because there is no evidence suggesting it does).

So which is worse? Seeing and playing a violent game unsupervised with likewise immature buddies, or playing it while sitting next to Dad?

Stop worrying (hopefully there aren’t deeper issues here), but I think it’s going to be fine. It’s certainly not worth starting a fight between Dad and Mom, I think.

Thanks for the letter!

-GamerDad

12 Responses to “Is ___ OK for my 8-year old?”

  1. Seriously? This kind of crap, and you hold yourself up as an expert?

  2. I do, yes.
    But so does the New York Times, National Library Association, National PTA, ESRB, etc., do though. I also I’m not dispensing medical advice. I’ve been a gamer for my entire life and I’ve been an expert for 15 years, but if you’re looking for degrees and such. Look elsewhere.

    There is plenty of crap out there written by people who have never played a video game to chose from, feel free to visit their websites.

  3. Oh and I don’t mean to kill debate!
    If you have proof otherwise, please share it. I’ve adjusted my stance before, I’m prepared to listen to evidence. If you simply disagree based on your own parenting or game experience – that’s good too.

    I’m open to debate.

  4. I loved Doom, Duke Nukem and Wolfenstein 3D for PC when I was a kid I would guess starting around this age. My parents taught me the difference between fantasy and reality, I turned out fine. Real violence still makes me cringe, and I don’t go around thinking I can shoot and steal everything in site. I am no expert but I do think that this is a choice that is up to parents based on what they know about their own kids. There is no one size fits all in parenting…

  5. We’ve also had at least 20 years of violent video gaming now… and the crime rate keeps falling. I’m not saying video games are causing the fall, but they aren’t causing a rise, and that’s pretty compelling. Especially given that around 90% of US homes have a video game system.

  6. Any idea why/how the Portal 2 is rated E 10+, but Portal is Teen?

  7. @Melanie Portal 1 Has Blood In It, Portal 2 Dosn’t

  8. i’m ten years old and my pairents dont let me play on halo its really anoying

  9. My parents do not let me play halo reach but i really want it for christmas is halo reach suitable for 11 year olds.

  10. More often than not, its actually the kid playing the game thats the trouble and not the game itself,

  11. This is the second time in just five mutnies that I’ve seen this particular viewer being used for flickr favorites. How do I find such utility? Lovely favourites by the by.Chris T.’s last blog post..

  12. I am 13 and my mom won’t let me play halo because it is rated m and why is it rated m all it has in it is blood and violence and your just killing aliens

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