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3 Men, Someone Else, & A Video Game

xbox2They were playing MASS EFFECT 2 online. Three young men and a young lady.  Hooked up via audio headsets, there was a lot of smack talk going around.  The young lady was not that good at the game, so she became the target of a lot of the barbs going around, and a lot of the in-game gunfire.

Then she started crying.

The guys stop.  They try to calm her down, only to learn that they are not playing a young lady.  They have been playing against a 12-year old boy!

What is going on, here????

First off, let’s look at the game they are playing: MASS EFFECT 2.

Rated-MThere’s nothing wrong with this game, per se. (That can be argued, but that’s a different post.).  The game is rated M for MATURE, 17+ and Over.  It received this rating for the following content:

  • Blood
  • Drug Reference
  • Sexual Content
  • Strong Language
  • Violence

So, we have three young men unknowingly playing an M-rated game against a 12-year old boy.

WHERE WERE HIS PARENTS?

Well, Mom was nearby, because as soon as Little Johnny ran to his room in tears she picked up the headset and started flaming the three young men for mis-treating her child.

I beg to differ…

The young men were not at fault:

THE PARENTS WERE!

Why?

  1. The game was apparently provided by the parents (M-rated games cannot be bought by children, legally).
  2. The mother was allowing her child to play this game.
  3. She was allowing him to play online, against strangers.
  4. She was allowing him to have voice contact with these same strangers.

All four of these points are common errors that parents make.  These mistakes can have dangerous consequences, such as:

  • Children are exposed to inappropriate  material (sex, drugs, graphic violence, etc.).
  • Children, safely sitting in their family room, are making contact with, literally, God knows who!
  • Children, then, are having uncontrolled voice communications with strangers who may, in fact, be predators.
  • Children are playing with adults who may will expect them to be adults, and will TREAT them as adults.  Children are not able to deal with verbal threats/smack talk that are common during such games.

The thing is, I would bet $1,000,000 that these parents would not allow this boy to view NC-17 or X-rated movies.  they might even be among those who follow the R and PG rating guidelines.

Games are no different from movies.  Not all games are for children, or even teenagers.  That’s why they have ratings.

Parents need to always do the following with regards to computer and video games:

  1. Games should only be played in “public” rooms where the screen is easily seen (just like computers).
  2. Restrictions based upon ratings should be followed to the letter.
  3. Online play should be closely supervised, especially during the set–up phase where children are connecting with opponents.
  4. Parents should be the ones with the passwords that enable the system to access online game systems.
  5. Parents should “meet” opponents and, to the best of their abilities, verify the ages of the players, who should be peers of their own children.
  6. Children do not game when home, alone.
  7. Parents need to talk to children about the safety rules for online play:  No real names, no addresses, no phone numbers, no e-mail addresses.  Only talk about the game.

As parents we need to treat any online activity, including that using games such as Wii, X-Box, and Playstation consoles, as activity that deserves our attention.

For the child’s sake.

What do you think?

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1 comment to 3 Men, Someone Else, & A Video Game

  • Scott Van Zyl

    So help me out – once the game is loaded on the system, how can I make sure my kid is only playing when I know about it?

    What questions are considered appropriate to verify other players identities?

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