“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”-Proverbs 22:6
I still remember the day my father told me that he trusted me to make the right decision in my gaming habits. It gave me a sense of responsibility to honor my father’s trust and to be careful not to abuse that trust. I grew up during a time when video games were beginning to explode in popularity. My parents carefully monitored the types of games that I played, and how much time I spent playing them. To this day I am extremely grateful that they did. I believe that it is the responsibility of every Christian parent to be aware of their child’s gaming habits. Video games were a huge part of youth culture during my childhood and continue to be today. When the time came for me to make my own decisions, I chose to honor my father’s trust because I believed that the rules they laid down for me as a child were wise guidelines for me to follow as an adult.
I still enjoy playing video games occasionally. When I do play, there are 3 areas of gaming that I am cautious of. These are what I believe to be the 3 major dangers of video games:
- The types of video games played
- How much money is spent on video games
- How much time is spent playing video games.
1. The Types of Video Games Played
A parent must be extremely cautious of the types of video games their child is playing. When I first started playing, most of the popular games were innocent, but that has drastically changed. As the graphics and gameplay features of video games become more realistic, it is rare to see a popular game that does not bear a rating for mature audiences only. The ESRB (http://www.esrb.org/) has a rating system that I encourage parents to be aware of and follow. Violence, strong language, and even sex are common in today’s popular games. Video games can have a greater impact on a young, impressionable mind than movies, because when watching a movie, the child is watching an action being done to another human being, while in video games, the child is actually able to perform that same action to another human being. Parents must consider the age and maturity level of their child when deciding which games they allow him or her to play.
2. The Money Spent on Video Games
Another negative aspect of video games today is that they can cost a great deal of money. Most game systems start at $200 while new games cost $60. Accessories (many of which are necessary and sold separately) cost a considerable amount. In addition to all of this, game systems now have online features, which may require a monthly payment plan or payments to add additional game features. Although it is necessary to spend some money when playing games, much of the money spent on the gaming industry is unnecessary, and parents should watch how much money they allow their child to spend gaming. It is a good opportunity for a parent to teach their child to be a good steward of their money.
3. The Time Spent Playing Video Games
The final, and greatest danger of video games is how much time is spent playing them. Video games are addicting. I have friends who have quit their jobs and dropped out of school and spent their days playing video games. Each of these people have one thing in common. Their parents did not set limits for how much time they were allowed to spend playing video games when they were young. I am grateful that my parents limited my gaming time when I was a child. I found more creative ways to spend my time, and spent many afternoons outdoors with my friends. As a result, I was able to develop my creative skills, relationships with friends, and I became talented at several different sporting activities. Today, these skills come in handy in college and in my workplace. The Bible tells us to make the most of our time (Eph. 5:16). It is important for children to learn this from a young age. When they are older, they will be grateful.
I strongly encourage parents to carefully consider the games their children play and how much time and money they spend playing them. Set rules for them and teach them good habits while they are young, and when they are older they will be grateful for the lessons they learned, and the time and money you saved them.