For the past ten years, I’ve been a teacher and a babysitter. I’ve always been a gamer. Gaming isn’t exactly “glamorous” to some and it’s hard to mix gaming with anything else you do in your life.
When I tell people I play video games, people are surprised. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a girl or because I’m an adult or what. Yet, it’s always surprising to people when they find out I enjoy playing video games. It’s even more surprising to them when I say I work in the gaming field. I have a blog about video games. I contribute to a gaming magazine. I engage in gaming conversations on social media. I live stream games on Twitch.
I don’t mention all of that to certain people. This isn’t to say I’m embarrassed by what I do, but there are certain people that don’t need to know. One, because I don’t want to hear about it and two, they don’t necessarily need to know.
When I pick up the kids from school, there are a couple of other parents I speak to while the kids play together. My ten-year-old plays Fortnite on occasion and his friend just got a Nintendo Switch and Fortnite for Christmas. Another child, who’s seven and in the same class as my other kid, also plays Fortnite.
Thus, a conversation about video games, weapons, and their ages began between those two moms and me. Or, them mostly. I stood in between them nodding my head as they talked.
The child who got Fortnite for Christmas has never played the game before because he was never allowed to. His mom doesn’t like the weapons, but she likes that it’s cartoon enough and there’s no blood. She also mentioned she played Mortal Kombat when she was his age but the world wasn’t crazy back then as it is today. She felt bad for not allowing him to play Fortnite all this time, but she sat him down and had a talk about friending people online and the works.
The other mom was concerned about them talking to strangers online. Yes, you need to be friends with someone to talk to them but it’s the unknown that bothers the parents. They were so concerned about them talking to strangers and people older than them.
I think it’s great the parents monitor this stuff, but that’s all they do. They don’t take the time to research what the kids are actually doing. What they can and can’t do. They just watch the kids do it and hope nothing bad happens.
What I found funny was that one of the mother’s heard her kid say, “Give me HP” through their headset. She had no idea what “HP” meant. She was laughing as she told us this because I guess she promptly scolded her child for being rude. He then needed to explain to her that he was on a team and someone had an extra health potion for him because he was dying. She apologized to him and laughed it off to us because she has no idea what the game is.
The story was pretty funny as she told it but again, it’s interesting how quickly the parents assume something. They’re worried the kids don’t know anything about anything but the parents are in the same boat. They don’t take the time to really look at what the kids are playing.
I’ve seen various ways video games can influence kids – in both good and bad ways. There are times I agree with the parents and then there are times I don’t. Video games affect people differently especially depending on your age, what the game is, and where you are in your life.
Right now, the kids play Fortnite because all their friends are doing it. It’s pretty to look at and the dances are funny. The parents see strangers talking to their kids while holding cartoon guns.
I’m not saying the parents need to play Fortnite in order to understand it. They don’t need to play any video games to understand any of it at all. However, I personally think it’s odd for them to worry their kids don’t understand the Internet when they don’t understand it themselves. When they believe to know what it’s about simply because they’ve “been there, done that.”
No one is in the wrong here either. Everyone is allowed to parent their children however they see fit when it comes to video games. However, growing up playing video games and working in the field, it’s odd to hear people talk about it negatively in passing.
The first family I ever babysat for hated the kids playing video games. They were on the consoles all the time and got fixated on the games. However, the parents never educated themselves about video games. The kids would be playing rated M games at the ages of 6, 7, and 10. The parents didn’t ease up on them playing games until they found out I played video games too. It was almost though it was suddenly okay because I, an adult, played games.
I’m sure it helped that I played family-friendly games such as Mario and Pokemon. I think the parents thought my influence on the kids would steer them in a better direction when it came to playing games.
I’m old enough now to look back at the stupid things I’ve done and realized my parents were right all along. However, there are some times I see parents doing or saying something because they don’t understand it themselves and just don’t want their kids to go down an unknown rabbit hole. A rabbit hole, the parents won’t take the time to check out first.
Again, I’m not trying to say parents who don’t let their kids play video games are wrong. Everyone has their own opinions on the subject and this is mine. It’s an interesting perspective when you’re caught in the middle. These aren’t my kids so who am I to butt in? It’s just interesting to see from afar.