“I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.”
— Hunter S. Thompson
Children should be allowed to play computer games as often as they are allowed to use morphine—when they are in the hospital and in pain. After an appendectomy, both morphine and computer games can be appropriate ways to pass the time. There are no benefits to computer games violent or otherwise that outweigh the long term consequences of extended play—all bad. Computer games are a waste of time and psychic energy. The best games–those that don’t model desensitized bloodletting–take time away from what kids should be doing: reading, playing, thinking. Sugary foods aren’t harmful in themselves; they just take up calories that could be better invested eating healthy. Morphine derivatives—except after surgery—are invariably a bad life plan.
“But I want my kid to fit in. All the other tenth graders are talking about level 60 of ‘Shoot, Shoot, Shoot, Blood, Blood, Blood, Kill, Kill, Kill.’ I don’t want my son to be the only child who doesn’t know that there’s a magic troll behind the purple tree.”
All the other tenth graders may also be smoking pot and refusing to go to school. That all the other kids are doing something is a poor argument, the kind of herd thinking that allows certain politicians to get elected. Indeed, I met with a 15 year-old girl recently who explained to her father and me that every 15 year-old boy in her 10th grade class had access to and frequently looked at Internet pornography. Effectively infinite videos of nude folks engaged in unlikely activities is not a good thing for young men trying to determine what kind of adults they want to become. That “everyone is doing it” is a poor argument for allowing your child to believe that sex is devoid of love but filled with latex.
“We only allow our son to play computer games a ‘little bit.’ We restrict him to ten hours a day of ‘Shoot, Shoot, Shoot, Blood, Blood, Blood, Kill, Kill, Kill’ on the weekend, five hours a day when he has school.”
And maybe that will work out for your son. Maybe he’ll be the one who learns to read, think, write, relate and interact with other actual humans who aren’t carrying virtual spears. But most of these kids don’t make it through unharmed. They play ‘Shoot, Shoot, Shoot, Blood, Blood, Blood, Kill, Kill, Kill’ instead of playing sports, instead of reading books, instead of making that awkward phone call to determine whether or not Mary would like to go to dinner and maybe for a walk after. Some kids drink a little alcohol and grow up without alcohol issues. But it’s not the smart way to bet.
“You’re so old fashioned, David. Wake up and smell the silicon. Kids don’t raft down rivers anymore eating mush-melons. If it were up to you, no one would be allowed to drink alcohol. Do you want us to go back to prohibition? Hmm? Is that what you want, to take us back to the 1930s?”
No one who was against the 18th amendment was in favor of giving alcohol to 10th graders.
Don’t believe that ‘Shoot, Shoot, Shoot, Blood, Blood, Blood, Kill, Kill, Kill’ can be addictive? Ask the man (yes, an actual man, not a 15 year-old boy) who died from exhaustion and starvation at his computer terminal. Oh, wait a minute, you can’t ask him. He’s actually—as opposed to virtually—dead.
Every minute your 15 year-old son is playing ‘Shoot, Shoot, Shoot, Blood, Blood, Blood, Kill, Kill, Kill’ is a minute he’s not attending to some more appropriate developmental task.
“Now I’ve got you. I told my 15 year-old son that he couldn’t play ‘Shoot, Shoot, Shoot, Blood, Blood, Blood, Kill, Kill, Kill’ for five minutes and he didn’t read a book, throw a ball with his friends or learn the Pythagorean Theorem. He just sat there for five minutes, giving me a dirty look and being bored.”
Next blog post: “Why a Bored 15 Year-old is Not Necessarily Such a Bad Thing.” Alternative working title: “Why I Can’t Imagine Abraham Lincoln Riding in a Limo, but I Can Picture Hunter Thompson Playing Computer Games Drunk.”