One of the most interesting things to come out of this month’s question about video games usage to the users of Mumsnet, was the low response we received. When asking about toys, the forum’s users seem to be much more forthcoming than when presented with the subject of video games.
Perhaps this is because the subject of video games is seen as something of a controversial one, or maybe it’s that users of Mumsnet have younger children, to whom the questions do not apply as easily. The results were interesting nonetheless.
Of those parents who did reply, the majority said their children are allowed to and do play video games (58 per cent).
Nagoo said: “DS [darling son] is 4YO [four years old] and I play age-appropriate games with him, maybe a couple of hours a week. He plays the PS3, the Eyepet thing and Lego Batman.”
The Armadillo commented: “DS (7YO) has an Xbox 360 + Kinect at the moment (which he saved for and paid for himself) and a DSi XL. Previously he owned a PS2 and we used to have a family Wii and a Gamecube.”
24 per cent of respondents said they did not allow their kids to play video games at all.
SilentMammoth offers: “We do not have them [video games and consoles] as they are not congruent with our values.
“Plus I can think of much better things they could do with their time.”
TheSpreadingChestnutTree agrees: “I feel quite strongly that I won’t allow DS to play video games, he is only three ATM [at the moment]. His dad is an addict IMO, [in my opinion] and I don’t want DS to become a thumb-tapping zombie like him.”
Of those who said their children were either too young, or not interested (18 per cent), the majority were talking about girls rather than boys. For example, Kreecherlivesupstairs tells us: “My DD [darling daughter] is not interested. She does have a DS but seldom uses it.
“She much prefers to read.”
Those kids who are playing video games seem, on the whole to be restricted in their usage.
Every parent who said their child plays video games, also said there are limits to the times, days, or length of time they play it for.
Neverknowinglyunderstood says: “They are allowed one hour on a Saturday and one hour on a Sunday.”
MrsDmitriTippensKrushnic adds: “They are restricted on how long they can play but it’s mainly a natural restriction based on the fact that it’s not possible (or fair) to play for hours when others want a go, and the consoles are in the living room so that limits it more.
“There’s no playing before lunch and there’s no playing after dinner. I’d only worry about how long they played if I thought they were being too obsessive and frankly that would be the same with any interest or hobby, not specifically gaming.”
Age ratings and which games were allowed or banned was a controversial issue. 40 per cent stuck strictly to guidelines, but all of those whose children play video games vetted the content in some way before allowing the kids to play.
Overmydeadbody comments: “I check content first, play the games myself so I properly know what I am talking about.” Fuzzpig offers: “I have told DD she is not allowed to go to her neighbour’s house because he (eight years old) plays COD [Call of Duty], etc unsupervised all day and DD was freaked out by it.”
A number of the Mumsnetters also mentioned that they were careful to ensure children were not present if adults were playing games they didn’t deem suitable.
The long-standing debate about the effect video games may or may not have on children’s behaviour was also touched upon. Fuzzpig notices: “She is allowed to play on the DC console and my iPhone occasionally but I noticed she gets really angry when it’s time to come off.”
Neverknowinglyunderstood agrees: “I find that the longer DS1 plays on there, the more challenging his behaviour is afterwards. He gets so immersed in the race/challenge that real life just gets him cross.”
So the usual controversies are ever-present, but it seems a large proportion of children are playing video games in one way or another.
Research based on 17 Mumsnetter responses.
Mum knows best
We asked Mumsnetters for their views on their children playing video games...
“Last straw for me was when he had a sleepover. His friend actually smuggled a copy of Grand Theft Auto into our house and gave it to my DS as, apparently, his mum had accidentally bought him a copy last Christmas… his friend is ten FGS! I mean, what is his mother thinking of?????”
“I think the problem is that most parents don’t think of age ratings on games in the same way as they do about films, DVDs, etc. After all they wouldn’t let their children watch Saw (I’d hope), but they don’t seem to worry that the content in adult video games can be just as violent/gory.”
“I tell DH [darling husband] off if he plays inappropriate games in front of DS.”
“I don’t have to restrict her play as the only time it comes out is if I nag her to play for a while (think about one hour most) and then wander off and do something else.”
“DS is 11 and nagged us to allow 15 games (Call of Duty again!) for about two years as ALL his friends have it, he plays it at theirs, etc. Playing the same game as all his mates has made him more sociable, as he does at least chat to them on Xbox Live while playing it rather than being totally isolated in his room.”
“I want them to enjoy their childhood and play with non-electronic toys just as I did. I know when they get older they will want all these things, but I wouldn’t want to actively encourage it at such a young age.”
“DD has been playing Wii balance board games since before she was two – when her (half) siblings were visiting we would play Wii Fit and she would want to join in. I have some adorable videos of her doing the step aerobics and ski jump.”
“They are restricted on how long they can play, but it’s mainly a natural restriction based on the fact that it’s not possible (or fair) to play for hours when others want a go, and the consoles are in the living room so that limits it more.”