Parents And Children: The M-Rated War

There are different types of parents. Here is my view from behind the register.

For quite a long time, organizations like the Electronic Software Ratings Board (US) and Pan European Game Information (Europe) have existed to help parents make decisions about the type of content that is suitable for their children. However, despite retailers and publishers conforming to ratings organizations, many parents and politicians have made it their mission to do something about the games that they think are destroying the minds of young ones.

Goluptiousgeek, over on Goluptious Geek Blog, recently wrote a post about the matter. He pointed out that even though instances of violence at the hands of youths hasn’t been linked to video games in any definitive way, there have still been multiple attempts to find some causative link. In his closing statements, he pointed out something that most already know.

Parent Classes

A concept that has been circling social media and websites for ages now has been that parenting has gone downhill over the generations. Whether or not this is actually the case is up for debate, and it will likely continue to be debated for years to come. However, I have noticed a different types of parents during my time working in gaming retail.

Leaders – Parents whose kids obviously handle M-rated games well

Some kids are just more capable of recognizing correct and incorrect behavior. Honestly, most kids fall into this category, and the parents know their kids are more than able to process mature content and not let it affect them a great deal. Usually kids from these parents are pretty respectful.

Politicians – Parents that want to be the good guys

Many parents simply want their kids to like them, or they buy Mature-rated games for their children as a bargaining chip. Of course, smarter children tend to realize that they can game the system in their favor. Kids from parents like this are pretty snotty, because they know they’ll get what they want. This sort of parenting can be dangerous because it puts all the power in the child’s hands.

Rubes – Parents that are ignorant of the games their kids play

I remember countless times when a kid came into my store to have their parent buy them a game like Saints Row or Grand Theft Auto, and I would ask the parent if it’s okay that it’s a Mature-rated game. It would take until then for the parent to finally wonder why it’s rated M. After some explanation, usually the parent would either just say “Okay” or they’d walk their kid out of the store, usually with him throwing a fit all the way to the car. Kids from ignorant parents are a little more conniving than that average child, because they often know just how to word things so they can keep their folks in the dark.

Little con-men…

Apathetics – Parents that just don’t care

Many parents that choose to buy Mature-rated games for their children honestly don’t care. They don’t give a shit about whether or not it affects their kids. These same parents are the ones that let their kids run around doing whatever they want, tearing up the store, cursing at people, and being jerks in general. Kids from these parents are the worst to deal with on a face-to-face basis because they’re generally extremely disrespectful to people around them. I have a great deal of personal experience with these types of parents and their ilk.

Survivors – Parents that gave up a long time ago

These parents are the type that originally cared, but eventually just stopped trying. I’ve noticed this generally happens with separated or divorced parents, or parents that have family members that allow their kids to play whatever they want. You can see the dead-ness in their eyes whenever they look at you; usually while their kid is screaming somewhere in the background.

Parents Have The Power

I’ll admit that I’m not a parent, so if you’re looking for a reason to tune me out, there you go.

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Are they gone? Cool. It’s just us now. Anyways…

The thing is that parents are the ones that hold the keys to the city. Almost all retail stores in the United States will not sell M-rated games to anyone under 17. In fact, most retail organizations with outright fire staff that sells M-rated games to anyone under 17 on the first offense. With that in mind, sleep well with the knowledge that a 15 year old boy can’t go out and buy GTA V on his own.

I’ll go ahead and say that if you don’t care if your kids play a game like Saints Row IV or Call of Duty: Black Ops III for whatever reason, that’s perfectly fine. I know that I sounded kinda mean above, but I’m not trying to judge parents on their parenting style. I just have a great deal of experience with various types of children (and hellspawn) and have seen a wide array of types of parents and kids.

However, what I will not stand for is parents getting upset that their children are playing games they don’t approve of, yet allowing them to play them anyway; and you shouldn’t either. What parents need to remember is that they hold the keys to the city of video games. Parents have the power to pull the plug at any point and be accountable for what their children are being exposed to.

Parental Tactics For The M-Rated War

Parents; if you don’t want your kids to play Grand Theft Auto V because of the violence, or Mass Effect because of the sex with aliens, don’t buy it for them.

If they get someone to buy it for them, throw it away and get rid of their game system.

If they are going over to a friend’s or family member’s house to play it, stop letting them visit unsupervised.

If someone buys a game you don’t approve of as a gift for your kid, give it back. If they won’t accept it, sell it or throw it away.

Be the authority on what they play if you want to have a say in the matter. You will have to be the bad guy sometimes, and that’s okay. You aren’t your kid’s friend, you’re their parent.

Most importantly, always look up the games that your kids want to play. The ESRB and PEGI both have websites that are great for getting an idea of what to expect, and I’ll include the links below.

ESRB.org

PEGI.info

Do you have any tips for parents trying to be informed about games? Anything else you’d like to add? Any stories you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments.

 

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14 thoughts on “Parents And Children: The M-Rated War

  1. As a parent, I’m not sure I fall in your first bucket or not. My 11 year old son is the only one of my kids that really cares about games and while I have allowed him to play certain M-rated games, like the Halo games pre-5, I don’t allow him to play games I feel he isn’t ready for, like Gears, GTA, or Assassin’s Creed.

    I do always find it interesting when I am in a game store and I watch a parent allow their kid to get a game I know is probably inappropriate for their age bracket and when educated by a salesperson they are either apathetic or completely aghast. I would have thought that my generation would be smarter about these things as we’ve grown up with video games our whole life but it seems that ignorance still runs rampant for many parents.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’d say you’d definitely be in the first category honestly. It sounds like you are conscious of what your son plays, which is good in my opinion.

      I think there’s a definite culture difference with our generation when it comes to parenting, especially among the younger parents. It seems like many of the parents my age and younger want to be their kid’s friends, allowing them to do what they want because they want their children to like them.

      Like

  2. From a parenting standpoint, I intend to follow the same route my parents took: research the game and determine if my child is MATURE enough (not old enough) to handle it. Parents know their kids best of all and should be willing to make those decision. I played Mortal Kombat 3 when a little underage, but I appreciate that my parents checked it out beforehand and decided that I was mature enough to not rip out anyone’s spine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I tell you what… I was ripping out people’s spines by time I was barely in diapers! Just kidding. I haven’t murdered anyone yet.

      In all seriousness, that’s probably the best approach to the situation. People often look at age as the only determining factor, but some people are more or less mature than others at similar ages. It’s best to take a case-by-case approach.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I worked at Best Buy, a couple years ago.This was when Call of Duty: Black Ops released which was in 2010, I remember a parent asked me if they can buy both BO and Red Dead Redemption for their child, and I ended up saying yes because I didn’t want to disappoint the child but I regretted it. I’m not sure what that makes me, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Human, it makes you human. It’s easy to relate to someone that wants to play a videogame as a gamer. The burden of the implications of a child playing M-rated games doesn’t fall on the folks that sell the game, but on the parent. If they are okay with their child playing CoDBlops (I love that abbreviation), then they at least have to take responsibility for that decision.

      It seems that the parents commenting on here are of the wiser variety. Maybe that parent was the same way.

      Like

  4. FANTASTIC POST!!! I’ve been digging into research studies about violence in video games and other media for a post I’m planning for later this year and… thinking about it from a perspective of why children are being exposed to media that might not be appropriate for them just makes me so mad. So mad I’m not even using an exclamation point to show how mad I am.

    My advice – as a non-parent – would be for parents to evaluate games the same way they evaluate movies, TV shows, and books. Game of Thrones is a good TV show, but it’s not appropriate for “children of all ages/maturity levels.” Even some of the later Harry Potter books deal with themes that a pre-teen (or younger) might not be able to handle. Be educated about what media your children are consuming! There. There’s the exclamation point.

    I remember growing up, my parents vetted music and games (etc.), and if it didn’t pass muster, they wouldn’t allow it. If we managed to procure a copy anyway, they’d take it away. There are some thing that just require a certain level of maturity to handle appropriately, and if it’s not developmentally appropriate for your child, keep it away from them. Don’t let your three-year-old use a steak knife. Hot coffee is hot. Exposure to events, either real or through media, does influence your child… Don’t expose them to things they’re not ready for.

    Sorry for the rant. While I’m not a parent, and likewise get tuned out because of that, it just bothers me when I see people who have children not make them a priority enough to be educated about what their children are doing/playing, or aware of their children enough to know what is appropriate for them specifically.

    Unlike iplayedthegame and Chris Scott, who seem to have everything under control!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No need for apologies, it’s a frustrating trend to see in gaming culture. It’s even more frustrating when you know what’s going on but feel powerless to do anything about it because somehow your point of view is invalid.

      The choices that have to made by parents aren’t easy, but they are choices that need to be made nonetheless. They can’t just pass the accountability to someone else and hope that someone can take care of the sticky issues… it’d be like expecting someone to show up at your house every time your baby needs a diaper change.

      Like

  5. great write up, i love how you broke down all categories of parents/kids you’ve encountered

    that being said, my wife and I recently encountered this challenge. We don’t have kids yet, but we were deciding what to get our nephew for Christmas. We saw Mortal Kombat X as a great price, and my wife wanted to get it for our little 6 year old nephew. To my wife’s defense, she didn’t know MKX contains some of the most horrifying fatalities ever convinced in Mortal Kombat, or in games in general. I quickly stepped in and explained why this was a bad idea. We watched a compilation of the fatalities and she quickly agreed with me. However she did want the game for ourselves 😀

    funny enough, a week later, we went to their uncles place and lo and behold, the kids were playing with their dad on their uncles PS4, non-other than MKX! It was supervised so all worked out great.

    A funny side story, back when Metroid Prime came in, and I was in high school, I was not allowed to purchase this Teen rated game, although I was well over 13. It was at a walmart, the game wasn’t rated mature as far as I knew, but they needed me to be 18 for some reason. Luckily my friends being a few months older than me flashed their ID and I was out with the game.

    But on how parents should handle this? I personally think the best way, and this is a method I’ve thought of a lot for when we eventually have kids, is I think the best approach is not only be informed about what your kids are playing, but be involved, play the game with them. This way while kids may do questionable things in game, you can ensure that your child knows right then and their that was wrong and not something that you do in real life. Not sure how this plays out practically given kids will play games waaay more than their parents, simply because parents are adults and have many more responsibilities and it’s hard to find time to play when the kids are playing. But still I think this would be most effective no matter how inconvenient it may be to do so. In my childhood, I was lucky enough to have a Dad who not only knew what I was playing, but played many games with me, such as Donkey Kong Country and one of my favourites as a child, Mortal Kombat 2. As a pre-caution, I was not allowed to do fatalities, but eventually I broke this rule in secret, it became public knowledge, but my parents never scolded me, and trusted that I understood you just don’t behead people in real life, or rip their arms etc. But I look back and have that experience of parents jumping in to make sure I understood the implications of violence and why it’s wrong, but never stopped me from enjoying that content. As a result, I am a very responsible gentle adult male, happily married and has a fond fascination for death metal!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like the approach you mentioned, of playing games with your kids as a way to introduce them to mature themes. When they’re ready of course. I think the vast majority of kids can handle the content, but it definitely can have an impact on them if they’re exposed too much to it.

      I mean, I remember loving Soldier of Fortune as a kid because of how violent it was, but I didn’t grow up with anything worse than an extremely dark sense of humor.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve suppose I’ve found it fairly straightforward about dealing with games for my son (being a fairly hardcore gamer) – I use the parental settings in Windows and on Xbox and the only exceptions to the rule are when he plays a game with me that I’m able to oversee. He’s not even 8 and GTA or Gears of War are definitely not appropriate right now. Online is a big no too. Minecraft is totally cool though. But that’s just my opinion. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do like the options that parents have these days when it comes to managing what games are appropriate for their children. Being able to disable certain types of content on a system level makes it much easier to gate off content.

      Also, Minecraft is fantastic for kids, as is LittleBigPlanet.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Somehow missed this post but it was linked from elsewhere. Love this write-up. As the son of a 4th grade teacher of 30 years, I can definitely say with certainty that parenting has fallen off in the past, at least according to the stories I hear. The main root of the problem? Both parents working full time, and thinking their teachers are babysitters who need to not only teach them math and science, but manners and social skills. It’s pretty pathetic and a terrible state of affairs.

    The fiancee and I will have some challenges ahead of us when we decide to become parents, at least as they grow up.

    I happen to work in children’s entertainment, and just last week we did a case study on the gaming habits of young kids and how well they can use an Xbox One console. They attended the study with their parents (obviously) and were aged 4 to 10, and were asked some questions along with playing some apps for user testing type of stuff. Amongst the games they reporting playing, as young a four years old mind you: Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, and Gears of War.

    Back when I was a kid the games weren’t really all that realistic, but somehow we knew it was just for fun, and I’m sure that’s most kids today. I don’t subscribe to the line of thinking that violent video games make violent people, but I do think that 4 years old is a tad young to be exposed to realistic depictions of murdering hookers. My hooker murdering rampage started when I was 13 and I will continue to do so until I am stopped. Thanks GTA3!

    Anyway, very cool article, great seeing someone’s opinion from “behind the register”!

    Liked by 1 person

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