With Christmas around the corner parents are buying presents for their children to be placed under the tree. Choosing gifts can sometimes be agonizing as we try to choose the right kind of gift that will be memorable, yet useful and appropriate. Video games are one of those choices.
One of the most favorite past times of the younger generation is playing video games. Hours upon hours of time are spent pushing buttons or moving joy sticks. As a leisure time activity this allotment of time spent staring at a TV screen is relaxing to the participant, but is very distracting in the way of other enterprises. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and a mother of nine children I’m not totally opposed to playing video games, but there are some precautions I would like to share in video game time for our youth.
- Time taken away from others. It’s easy to get sucked up into a video game and not realize how much time has gone by. Before you know the whole day has passed and the hours spent playing video games cannot be called back.
From a talk given by Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was published in the Ensign Magazine November 2000 (page 66) a poignant ideal is shared. “Near the end of his life, one father looked back on how he had spent his time on earth. An acclaimed, respected author of numerous scholarly works, he said, ‘I wish I had written one less book and taken my children fishing more often.’ Time passes quickly. Many parents say that it seems like yesterday that their children were born. Now those children are grown, perhaps with children of their own. “Where did the years go?” they ask. We cannot call back time that is past, we cannot stop time that now is, and we cannot experience the future in our present state. Time is a gift, a treasure not to be put aside for the future but to be used wisely in the present.”
We are given so much time in the day. We can either spend it helping each other and accomplishing something good or waste it participating in what seems like leisure but in actuality is harmful in large doses. Your child is only under your roof for 18 years and flies by very quickly. An allotted amount of time should be set each week for children playing on video games.
- War games promote revenge: I was sitting in a Sunday School class a few weeks ago listening to a discussion about how we are taught by the lessons of Jesus Christ in forgiving others. One woman brought up the idea that children playing video war games learn revenge instead of forgiveness. A light bulb went on in my head and the more I thought of that idea, the more I realized how right she is. Not only are there many video games which become very addictive and entice children to play for hours at a time but these same war games children love to play so much teaches that it is better to blow the enemies away by gunning them down than by talking out their problems.
Is it better as Christian families to promote inflicting injury or carrying a bitter desire to hurt another of God’s children in the name of winning a game? I think not. Day after day of shooting the enemy can desensitize the ability to think clearly on the more important matters as in communicating with one another and forgiving each other for our faults. Video games don’t promote such ideals, especially video war games. Take a good look at what your children are playing and think about the messages these “games” profess.
- Playing video games promotes lack of physical activity: If a child is so interested in playing video games, then why would he/she inconvenience themselves to run around and play? This is a big distraction from physical activity and creative playing time. When the electricity goes out from storms in our area, it is amazing how children will congregate outside because they are “bored” with nothing to do. They usually busy themselves with simple games and talk. Not so with the distraction of video games. Unless someone tells them specifically “it’s time to turn it off,” they will keep on playing. Why are video games so addictive? According to media literacy specialist, Dr. Charles Ungerleider, “they are very compelling with increasing complexity, so the child becomes more facile, yet wants to know more and learns new skills. While wanting to improve their game isn’t a problem in itself, it becomes one if video games are taking a child away too much from other activities.”
Our youth need parents to remind them of when to stop playing and switch to an alternative activity. It’s an inconvenience for both the parent and the children because the parents know their children should be playing outside or doing other things but children are so preoccupied by these games they don’t want to stop. I know this from experience.
Christmas is such a wonderful family time of the year. All children can play video games and have fun too when there are ground rules set by parents. Abuse of their playing time (more than two hours a day) can lead to distant relationships and less physical activity. When there is a cap on playing time, parents will see a difference in their child’s attitude and spend more quality time doing something fun and healthy.