I can't condone ultra violent games like Grand Theft Auto
If kids feel the need to self-censor swearing and "kissing and whatnot", what is the attraction of a game like Grand Theft Auto when other "cleaner" games of this type are available?
I think it helps to see it through the child's eyes to find out what they're enjoying about it rather than viewing it through our own eyes.
These games are, of course, fantasy. However, does honoring a child's feelings rule out discussing the parent's values with said child?
No. But I think it helps to tell them why something bothers us rather than why we think it would be bad for them and why we don't want them to watch it or do it. (I wouldn't automatically extend that into physical situations since we'd be discussion made up scenarios that don't have real reasons behind them.)
I wouldn't call it condoning, just tacit approval.
The only way for that to be true is if our children have grown up without the opportunities to absorb what we feel is important and why.
If we've talked about ways to get what we want in life without hurting others, if we've protected them from being hurt, if we've loved them and they know how great it is to feel loved, then how would they get the idea that we think behavior in violent video games is okay in real life?
Children who are disconnected from their families, who have feelings of rage that they want to release may do so vicariously through a game. Or, if the disconnection and hurt is so great, they may decide the game isn't enough and do it for real.
It's not the game that causes the violence. It's the disconnection. A game might trigger it. But so might many other things. Including the worsening of the disconnection and hurt.
But does that have anything to do with children being raised in homes where the parents are involved in their lives and the children feel loved for who they are?
I wonder what a child is missing in his life that he would enjoy pretending to pick up hookers or steal cars.
My daughter and I have had a great time playing Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters. We stomp on buildings and throw them around. We beat the pixels out of other monsters.
We both don't like to destroy things in real life. It's upsetting. But I think it's fun because you know it's fantasy and by restarting the game, everything goes back the way it was.
Perhaps it's the challenge of being able to accomplish something that the real life consequences -- emotional and physical and legal -- would normally prevent us from doing. It's solving a problem where the parameters are things you'd never want to face in real life. How does a problem play out if you could steal cars and the consequences of failure are no more than having to restart the game? Playing out a scenario in a game doesn't remove the consequences in real life. But it allows us to see what the differences are in the world if we change the parameters.
A healthy child doesn't wish the world were like that. They recognize and value what they'd have to give up to get that world. But there's nothing wrong (and a lot good) about wondering and actually being able to explore what the world would be like if the rules were different. It's why some people like science fiction and fantasy. It gives us new perspectives, allows us to see things in a way we couldn't constrained by the things we value.
Maybe it has to do with knowing my children as I do.
Many parents think they know their children. But the more they restrict, the less they know their children and the more they know how their children are under restrictions. Restrictions say I don't trust you. Restrictions say that thing is more powerful than you are. Restrictions give children reasons not to be trusted.
And there are parents who do restrict who don't have these problems either.
The implication is that restriction is necessary to prevent children from turning out bad. We have children here who are not restricted who are not turning out bad.
There are parents who restrict whose children need to resort to doing things without their parents knowledge.
There are no parents, as far as I know, whose children were raised by parents who are loving and aware, who have had those problems.
Restrictions or lack of them won't have as much affect as the relationship the child has with his parents. Restrictions can often undermine the relationship, though.
I honestly would like people to explain to me why do they like to play GTA.
I don't play Grand Theft Auto but I've played Godzilla which centers around violence and destruction.
I don't like to hurt people or destroy thing in real life. I even found it a bit unsettling to watch kids in school rip up their papers and throw them away. I folded them and dropped them in the trash. (My recycled paper is still pretty neat ;-) My daughter has similar tendencies so there's some genetic factor rather than a tendency that's been suppressed. I don't ever remember wanting to smash things. And I don't remember anyone making me feel guilty for accidentally smashing something.
And yet it's fun to stomp on virtual buildings and throw them around. It's fun to throw your virtual opponent into buildings so hard they collapse. It's fun to blast opponents with energy rays and whomp them with your tail.
When the game is played again the city is all back together and the monsters are all undamaged because that's part of the rules of that world. The decisions you make in the game -- like deciding to destroy a city -- are based on knowing the games rules: that the city will be undamaged next time you play.
In a game you get to play out what the world would be like if certain rules were changed, like not feeling pain when you're slammed into a building and not having to live in a world of chaos. The important thing is that it may be a fun world to visit and play in but it isn't a world I'd want to live in. With a game, if someone has conflicting desires -- like a desire to shoot guns but a greater more over riding desire not to harm living things -- a game can be a way to play out the desire they'd never act on. Satisfying desires, giving them an outlet in a way that doesn't hurt anyone is a healthy thing. Suppressing desires can be unhealthy.
I don't think I could play Grand Theft Auto and yet I understand why some would want to. It's about playing out what it would be like if the rules of life were different. If the Grand Theft Auto world were real, it would be a thoroughly unpleasant place to live. I think anyone who has played the game would be even more convinced that they wouldn't want to live in that world. And yet it would still be fun to play there for some people.
Children who are raised in homes where they are treated with respect and are loved unconditionally, understand they'd have to give all that up to live in the a world where they could kill without remorse. What they'd have to give up is way more valuable than what they'd get in return. If we concentrate on creating a life and world that they wouldn't want to give up, then we can be confident that no matter what they explore, that they're going to conclude that they already have something that's too good to give up.
If you don't understand someone who thinks that way, that's okay. If you don't want to think that way, that's okay. But to assume that your son must think as you do or feel as you do, is not going to help you unschool. Unschooling is about honoring who a child is and trusting they are good people who are doing their best to be good. We may not always understand why they enjoy something, but we should respect their likes and dislikes.
Last updated: April 2009