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Sunday, September 29, 2013

An 8-Year-Old's Take on Violence and Video Games.

Saw this article on Kotaku that appeared in my FB feed about a 9-year-old boy arrested for bringing weapons to school. I decided to go to the source article and had my 8-year-old sit with me as I read it. Then we had a discussion about good and bad choices. Then I asked him, "Do you think the video game he played is the reason why he made a bad choice?" His answer was "Yes...because he was playing a game that wasn't his level."

Then I showed him the video of the newscast where they name the evil video game - Minecraft. After the short news story, I asked him, "So, is Minecraft too much for a 9-year-old?" "No, because I play it," he responded, "and I know that bringing things like that to school will get me in trouble." I asked him if he thought the game was violent, and he said no because he mostly builds stuff and sometimes he has to fight off zombies. "That boy wasn't taught about what is real and fake." he concluded.

First of all, as nervous as I was to have this conversation about video games with him, he responded with some very thoughtful conclusions. He understood that games were meant for people who could handle the "level" of play. He understood that there was a difference between reality and fantasy, and that this child - although older than him - did not appear to have that sense of differentiation. And he understood that bad choices have consequences.

We can blame video games for violence in our society until we're blue in the face. Just recently a young man was arrested for "re-enacting Grand Theft Auto." But really, was it the game that caused him to do it, or a disturbed mind that could not separate fake and real, choices and consequences. He should not have played the game because he "wasn't ready" for that level mentally, but the game itself did not MAKE him do anything. The bottom line, as my young son illuminated, comes down to whether a person can understand reality.