The Good Old Days?
By Kei Beneza (dividelife), OnRPG Journalist
Technology has worked its way from being a helping hand to a necessity. Despite its advantages, not only did technology change our way of working and researching, but also our way of life. Let’s take a peek at the youth of this generation. Traditionally speaking, the children of today no longer enjoy playing with tops and toys like most of us did when we were kids. Now we see grade school students playing video games our parents used to keep us from during the early days. Being a third world country with little exposure to gaming, The Philippines was unable to enforce mature ratings to prevent these kids from accessing violent games like Left 4 Dead and Call of Duty. Not only does this matter revolve around a single country, but the rest of the world as well. Now, children can be found playing MMOs that they shouldn’t even be able to play yet. I was utterly surprised at how skilled today’s children were at handling the complex systems of most games. Now, children can actually play as well as adults (sometimes even better). So what ever happened to the hopscotch kids we knew back then?
The gaming world has become diverse with genres, and picking what’s right for their kids may be hard for those who don’t know about age ratings and such. Not all countries have implemented game ratings, which makes it even worse for parents who want to find the ideal game for their offspring. Kids have also become more computer literate than most adults, since computer literacy is now a mandatory feature in today’s education programs.
It’s just a game! What could possibly be wrong about it? – Parent
Just A Game, They Said
One of the biggest causes of premature gaming is the stereotypical outlook most parents have over video games. Games were generally for kids during the old days, hence their carefree perspective. Not all parents have been exposed to “Mortal Kombat” during the early gaming era, which gives most adults the grand idea of games being made specifically for children. Let’s face it! Who knew that games could evolve into different genres that consist of guns blowing up heads and brutal wanton massacres?
To prove this theory correct, I instructed a 12-year-old boy (my nephew) to buy me a copy Resident Evil 5 (a pretty violent game) from our local gaming store. Once there, the sales clerk asked if the boy’s PC had met the requirements necessary to play the game, and just like that, my nephew took off with a game specifically made for people who are 18 and above. Was it not the same as selling cigarettes to kids? The sales clerk was probably unaware of what she just sold.
Evolution of Behavior
The gaming world/online world is responsible for most of today’s childhood metamorphosis. Internet meme’s can also be considered as a hefty factor as modern virtual language is now being used religiously by people all over the Internet. Children younger than nine years old can breathe and shout “Noob” wherever you go.
At times children see this as the “in” thing and will execute such behaviour without realizing. We’re no longer living in the old days, which means that children will be exposed to all types of individuals, possibly from every corner of the globe, and acquire different expressions and behaviour during their online escapades.
I managed to get an Interview with Dr. Nicole Escutin, a Pediatrician and longtime gamer. Dr. Escutin is familiar with the situation at hand, and is also convinced that the children of today are much different from those who came before this era. According to him, exposure to such things can also be considered as a blessing, as these children can learn how to handle complexities, as well as exercise their ability to act on different situations. He does however, agree that the memes and too much exposure may not be good for the young individual and can resort to delinquency if not guided properly. So far, the only ones who can handle the situation are the parents, who can do nothing at this point as the content of the web is too diverse and broad for them to simply filter. Filtering adult sites can be easy, but not all adults know how.
Another individual who aided us in our journey is Dr. Leynes, who is a Psychiatrist and a mother of three. She admits that video games have overrun the youth population and gives good effects if played with moderation. Career-wise, the video game industry has also opened up new forms of interest from where children can benefit as they immerse themselves in new technologies further. It can be considered as a learning experience, and negative effects born from this craze can be dissolved as these kids mature. Again, the doctor stated that the video game industry cannot be blamed for the children’s exposure to mature content, for there are also other sources to ponder on.
Games of Today
What ever happened to saving the princess? Perhaps we can say that the whole power pellet routine is getting old. Games have evolved further, giving birth to different genres that are no longer suitable for those who are below 17. Even the Wii (which is supposed to be a family console) now features games that can be offensive to some. To see this matter further, we visited different schools (all boys) and conducted a survey among grade schoolers, asking them about their favourite games (note that these children are only 8-10 years old).
1). What are your favorite games?
2). Who buys you your games?
3). Why do you play video games?
As expected, the kids were fond of DOTA (Defense of the Ancients), Mario, Final Fantasy, Gran Turismo, and various MMOs like Ragnarok and Luna Online; however, not one of them passed a clean list, with adult titles like Grand Theft Auto, Resident Evil, Dragon Age (a game with sexual content) and Left 4 Dead also listed. As expected, the “who buys you your video games?” question worked like a charm, with 98% of the kids answering Mommy and Daddy. As for the remaining 2%, they got it from other members of the family (sure did not see that coming). The third question brought us generic answers like “it was fun” and “I like the story”, but it also gave us a few funny ones like “To be the best”, “To beat noobs”, and “kill zombies”.
Are Parents To Blame For The Negativity?
According to our specialists, absolutely. There is no excuse for not being able to monitor or moderate their child’s behaviour, and failure to do so only means that they are incapable of raising one. Today, parents are the ones who play damsels in distress, especially on news interviews regarding their child’s violent behaviour or negative game-acquired traits. An example is this video about MMO addiction in the news.
It’s funny whenever I see incapable parents who only fill themselves with regret when their kids pick these things up. World of Warcraft has a parental monitoring system, so the mother should stop being pathetic and start checking it out. Children tend to get their money from their parents anyway, so they should know who’s in charge. Issues like holes punched on the wall and keyboards thrown around the room may not be the average negativity when dealing with video games, but acting helplessly won’t solve it either.
Aside from children, some adults no longer gain their needed exercises aside from finger and wrist movements, thanks to the addictive factor of computer games. Dr. Keith, from www.sun.co.uk’s Ask Dr. Keith states that the leisure hours once used for climbing trees and playing sports are now consumed through countless repetitions in the virtual world. The Net Doctor also said that he once saw his kids playing Virtual Tennis instead of simply going to the Tennis court down the road, and instead of breathing fresh air outside, kids today breathe in the sanctuary of their living room, playing video games for countless hours. [http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/health/health/drkeithhopcroft/article1615524.ece]
Lack of exercise can lead to heart problems and other unfortunate diseases, and today’s lifestyle lacks more than just exercise. Some of the people today no longer have a healthy body clock, staying up for countless hours while playing games and surfing on the Internet. Food problems can also be an issue as these people tend to skip meals and fail to eat on time. Exactly how much have we evolved since then?
Although it would seem that I have stated a lot of negative effects, the gaming world or virtual world in general has many positive effects on individuals. Just as the professionals suggested, games allow children to experience simulated situations where they should act with diplomacy, leadership, and must think quickly to work their way around scenarios. I believe that these skills are considered essential and can work wonders for them as they grow up. It also allows them to exercise their ability to research and learn more through the comforts of online services. Evolution in communication is also another beneficial factor in the online world, namely in MMOs where people can communicate with players from all over the world, adjusting to different traits as they continue to meet and converse with a diverse set of individuals.
Perhaps one reason why children today are exposed to life early is because of the vast information found on the web. Unlike before, information on certain things can be accessed at a click of a button. Imagine how pathetic we must be to dig through the library for information when doing research. The web is capable of answering questions in a flash as the information provided is not as static as books, and can be updated on a daily basis. Fun and games are not the only things your children can find online, and can be educational as well.
Due to the parents’ inability to admit their wrong doing, other extreme claims have been charged against Video games, such as the Columbine Massacre, where two armed students murdered their entire class. The two students were said to be hardcore DOOM and Wolfenstein players, which gave the parents the idea that video games (and Marilyn Manson LOL) were responsible for their child’s ill behavior.
According to Dr. Escutin, studies have proven that parents should not blame anyone but themselves for what happened in that school. Murderous tendencies are not brought about by video games, but by weak family structures and lack of guidance; in fact, the charges can be blamed on movies, television, or anything else we like if we want to continue pointing fingers. Stop whining, and start moderating.
Parents should at least show a little interest in what their children are doing; video games have now become a big part of our culture, which means that they’re something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Video games are the same as reading books and watching movies/television in providing entertainment of various types, and it is the parent’s job to moderate accordingly. There is little difference in exposing children to violent games and exposing them to other various media types available today. If parents can’t guide their kids appropriately, then they’ll forever be stereotypical jerks who blame everything on everyone but themselves. There’s no doubt that peace and order was easily achievable back then in the GOOD OLD DAYS, but continuing to live back in the 80’s won’t do them much good. Humans will continue to move forward, which is why you must always update yourself with your child’s activities. I can only think of the possibilities available once our technology evolves further. Stop muttering about the good old days and start moderating the good new future.