War Games: Answer Your Call of Duty

Oct 31, 2016

He lived in a nice quiet neighborhood, where the loudest sounds around were the birds’ wake-up songs and the distant drone of a lawnmower.

But every evening, around 5:30, when walking up his front steps, the father of two teenage boys heard the sounds of bombs going off and rapid gunfire. The sounds came from inside the living room, as a new ongoing war getting out of control.

His boys were playing war video games like Call of Duty-Black Ops, and the father, although annoyed and concerned, had basically waved the surrender flag. He did this because he felt powerless to slow them down. Talking to them about the documented dangers of video game addiction and the frequent exposure to the violent on-screen images seemed pointless at times; as his sons’ friends were doing the same thing, which also made their parents throw up their hands.

Video game violence has become just as pervasive among teen boys as bike riding was for fathers way back in the day. A New York Times article, cited studies showing that 80 percent of high school boys played video games, most of which are thought to be violent, with anywhere from one-third to one-half of them playing at least 10 hours a week.

The solution is in the fathering, and the establishment of limiting playing-time on war games, along with the presentation of healthier alternatives. Studies showing the negative impact on kids who play violent war games excessively don’t lie, and if it’s rampant in your home, it’s your call of duty as a father to look at the situation honestly, and consider solutions.

WARNING SIGNS AND RISKS

While for some kids, video games can be a healthy release of stress and simple enjoyment, but for others, too much time in front of a violent screen can lead to aggressive behavior, and sometimes even manifest into conflicts at school. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, “Studies of children exposed to violent media have shown that they may become numb to violence, imitate the violence and show more aggressive behavior.”

Other important tendencies to watch for:

  • Reduced self-control
  • Problems with retention of information/attention span
  • Slowed development in interpersonal communication

NON-VIOLENT ALTERNATIVES

There’s a whole burgeoning genre of non-violent action games that keep kids interested, entertained and challenged without all the stabbing, gunshots, grenades and bombs involved. Educational and sports-oriented games offer a healthier alternative that can at least give war game players something else to do while teaching them a healthy balance. This is also good as it gives parents some peace at mind that their living rooms’ and their teen’s psyche aren’t being overtaken by battlefields.

BALANCING AND BONDING

If your kids are of appropriate age according to the war game’s ESRB label, you don’t have to put the total kibosh on the ka-booms. This way you don’t alienate and leave them feeling left out from their friends’ war-game group sessions. Allowing them a little freedom can expand their horizons as well as their awareness of an important healthy balance.

To put this into perspective, the papa shows his sons the love and direction they need as teens, as video games, or even war games, can be a bonding mechanism for fathers and sons. Laying down limits and making alternatives has worked for my friend, the father who heard the bombs and rapid gunfire every day when he got near his front door. Now sometimes, they’ll even invite dad to join – including Call of Duty.

But, it’s all because he answered his call of duty as a father.

If you choose to play with your children be sure to thoroughly read through the game’s online manual as well as the terms and conditions for online play. Also be sure to check the in-game parental control options, as this can make the experience more manageable. If you’re looking for similar parental control functionality for Internet use, software like Net Nanny, can make sure your children’s online experience is more secure!