Good Parenting Series: Kids and Video Games

My wonderful 16-year old video game-playing son is mad at me. He’ll probably be mad at me for a while. Ha! I don’t care. Shit happens and he’ll get over it. I’m sure he’s mad at his mom too. Why? Because of some damn popular video game that went on sale this morning [Tuesday, November 13] at 12:01/00:01 midnight; about an hour ago. The video game? Call of Duty: Black Ops II.

According to news reports, this game, “Call of Duty: Black Ops II” is expected to be “the biggest video game release of the year”. My son, and “all his friends” (he says), along with “hundreds of thousands of other gamers”, (news reports say) were expected to line up at thousands of stores, including, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and GameStop, to get this game at midnight. I’ve heard news reports telling the public that gamers – that is, kids, college students, and adults who play this game, will be late to school and/or take the day off from school or work due to them playing this game all night long and perhaps all day today (Tuesday). Well, MY son will NOT be standing in such a line at midnight, hours before he has to get up at 6:30 am to go to a school where the first class period bell rings at 7:40 am. He already hates getting up! Good thing he drives now and most of the responsibility for getting to school on time rests with him. (Depending on whose house he’s staying over, either me or his mom will often add that extra kick in his butt to make sure he is up and out the door on time.)

Twice this past weekend, my son called to ask me to take him to Game Stop at midnight so he could get the new Call of Duty video game. Twice I told him that he should wait to get the game after school on Tuesday. The boy practically begged me to take him.  Of course, like most kids his age who try to play one parent against the other in order to get their way (especially parents who live apart), my son intentionally withheld some vital information.  Until I spoke to his mom, I had no idea that he had already pre-purchased the game last Friday to ensure that his copy would be reserved. I did not know that his mother had already told him to wait until later, the following Tuesday, when she would pick up the game for him after she got off work. I also did not know that she had denied his request to take him to the store late Monday night – before midnight – and hours before he was due to be up to get ready for school. Of course, like most ex’s, she told our son, “If your father is willing to take you to the store, she would be fine with it.” In all fairness to my ex, I believe she knew me well enough to already know that I too, would never agree to take our son anywhere at that time of night  – especially for some video game on a school night. She was right.

I am not an asshole of a parent; well, perhaps my teenage son would beg to differ at this point. I like to pride myself on an ability to keep tabs and awareness of most new technology, particular new electronic toys and games played today (even though I don’t play them). I am neither out-of-touch with the world or the generation of kids today. I understand the intrigue behind video gaming, particularly this game, Call of Duty and other games of action. I’ve watched my son play and enjoy earlier releases of Call of Duty. I’ve always enjoyed the graphics and storyline of animated games. I’ve witnessed the evolution of video games over the past 25 to 30 years. I’ve also been more than aware of the competition of popular high-graphic gaming systems like Xbox and PlayStation but have come to loathe the allure of the attention span caused by video games of hundreds of kids – my son included – from the occurrences of the REAL world around them.

I don’t always like it but I understand gaming is the “pied piper” of today’s kids and many young adults (and those of fully grown men and women, too). What a strange, yet vast difference from the days of my childhood when it was the great OUTDOORS – regardless of the weather, that always called my name.  I’m sure other parents – married or single feel my pain when we would often have to tell our kids to “shut it down” (“it” meaning the video game) because they had school the next day. Of course, most of us would come back to our kids’ room ten minutes later and have to repeat ourselves, often getting a bit nasty just so our kids would follow our instructions. Kids would always have some rationale for wanting to “finish the game or operation first”. We’d repeat our demand; then, as we walked away, we’d overhear them say to their other friends playing on-line, “I gotta go; Dad (or Mom) is on my case…” LOL! Kids today; they all seem to act as though we parents were not defiant to our own parents when we were their age. The more things change, the more they stay the same – particularly in parenting.

Like everything else in the world, video games also have their time and place.  I never understood the rationale for any merchant to participate in the debacle of putting some item on sale at midnight any more than I understood the logic of those who just had to have the first and the “latest-n-greatest” of anything at that time of night or the moment a new item hit the store shelves. I’ve seen and heard stories of people lined up at stores when the computer operating system, Windows 95 first came on the market some 17 years ago. This nonsense would repeat for every “major” release of some high-tech gadget, like an Apple computer, a software program, or some gaming system or video game that followed. People would stand, sit or pitch a damn tent in long lines in all kinds to weather just so they could get the “hottest things since sliced bread” …and get it before anyone else got it!

I gotta ask: What the fuck, people??? Would not the stores have enough of any new item in stock for everyone that wanted to buy one during their regular operating hours?  Could not the stores always order more – even if it required some PATIENCE on the part of the customer? What the fuck is this insane need to out-do other people with being “the first” to own some THING or any THING, particularly those THINGS which could have a factory defect or perhaps need immediate (and often constant!) updates to fix post-release problems of operation? Imagine if people applied the same dedication and patience to other WORTHWHILE things like volunteerism, community clean-up, or some other social contribution that actually pays in huge socially beneficial dividends! I laugh at these people but I also shake my head in disappointment of human vanity.

Yeah, my son may be a bit upset today that he won’t be able to join his buddies online this early morning of the release of this new video game called Call of Duty: Black Ops II . When his mother picks up the game later today or he chooses to get it himself after school, he can play it later. I understand that he has two half-days of school this week so he’ll have time to play the game – and only after school responsibilities like homework and home chores are done. My ex and I do not want our son growing up and going through life having a “want it now” or to develop some impatient attitude of life and what it has to offer. Before our split five years ago we were raising and teaching our son patience and to “try all things first”; meaning, check out the validity, accuracy, truthfulness, and reliability of certain things before jumping into something that might prove itself to be nothing but hype. Separately, we are still doing that. Our son is a good kid. He may be unhappy with his parents right now but knowing him, he’ll quickly get over it. He knows we love him and that we often express that love to him, express why we love him and often why we have to say ‘no’ to many things he wants to do or desire to have.  He knows that when it comes to his well-being, his mother and I will always discuss a matter and usually be on the same page or come to some sort of compromise. We love our son. I’m not concerned about my son in that aspect or with his feelings about this video game situation. I am however, concerned for the kids whose parents are not parenting and who are not setting similar guiding priorities for their kids.

My son will be in class later this morning, where he belongs. Where will YOUR kid be?

Keepin’ It…..REAL!

One thought on “Good Parenting Series: Kids and Video Games

  1. I employed to feel so much pressure like a gamer to get over the games that
    I played these days I have a new rule: My game;
    my way. It can help be somewhat capable, but is not needed.
    Together these colors depict action and aggression having a touch of mystery.

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