In a little publicized story that came out this past week, it was reported that 97% of the kids in America play video games. Specifically, that amounted to 99% of all boys and 94% of all girls.
The question that comes to mind is whether we are living in an age where the lines between real and fantasy have been forever blurred. Between video games, movies and television; it would appear that most kids today spend more of their life in some fabricated fantasy land than in the real world.
Of particular interest to me is the number of kids who play interactive games with other kids. Supposedly this is a good thing for it helps develop social skills. Whatever happened to everyone sitting around the table playing Monopoly?
The problem with these statistics lies in the percentage of kids involved. Even in households with no computer, there is a video game system. Where does this indicate the priorities are with the parents? If given a choice between a learning tool and an entertainment one, the choice ends up entertainment.
It is astounding to see the changes that have taken place in a matter of three generations. As a society, we have gone from movies and radio as the only forms of entertainment outside of live appearances to every imaginable form of virtual entertainment someone can devise. There seems to be no end to the ability to make real what is strictly imaginary.
In the summer of 2007 I visited an old friend whom I had not seen for 25 years. While there, I went with him to pick up his youngest teenage son who was finishing a week at "camp". I never asked, so I assumed it was some camp in the woods complete with swimming, fishing and campfires. Silly me, I forgot we are living in the millennium of technology and not back in prehistoric times.
As it turns out, the camp was at some exclusive liberal women's college and it dealt entirely with learning to write and develop programs needed to invent video (computer) games. Once there, we were treated to watching the new game my friend's teenager came up with during the week. To me, it looked like an advanced version of Pac Man, but I guess it was quite an accomplishment to start from scratch and put together a game where a character succeeded in killing everyone from monsters to President Bush.
That night, while my friend slept the evening away, I happened upon his son who was in his bed with all the lights off playing computer games on his computer. I asked him how much he played per day and he said 6 to 7 hours usually. His parents are worried because he is a recluse. Duh, if someone sits in a dark room playing games most of the day, what do you expect.
I am not against gaming, for if have squandered my fair share of time in this life playing games. The difference lies in the kinds of games involved. Growing up, I used to play entire basketball seasons by myself out on the driveway. I had whole teams and announcers and statistics etc. My older brother taught me to this as he also taught me to play dice baseball.
Over the years I used to pick my favorite team and play a whole season of dice baseball. 12 was a home run, 4 was a double, 9 was a strikeout etc. This entertainment kept me occupied and busy for hours at a time during different periods of my life. If I were not so busy, I would gladly pull out the two dice and start a season today. Perhaps it would end better than my Cardinal's season has.
When I was about 12 or 13 years old, I laid out a golf course in the back yard of the house. There were I believe 5 holes. I would then take my putter and ball and proceed to play every major golf tournament ever conducted. Of course Arnold Palmer always won, for he was my dad's hero and thus mine too. No one else ever played my golf course, and my dad cursed it for it tore up his grass, but he never told me I couldn't play "golf" on it (especially when he heard Arnold always won).
When I was growing up in the 1960's, summers were spent outside playing baseball, golf or whatever game me and the kids next door came up with. There were no computers and there were no video games. Whatever we played was entirely what we devised on that given day. My wife tells the story of spending entire weeks playing in the yard using a huge box a new appliance came in. Of course the box turned into a fort or a house or any number of things before the rain ruined it.
My wife also tells the story of playing with her cousins when they came to visit. They would play Batman and Robin and the other characters of that show. Again, this was long before the days of spending 6 to 7 hours per day sitting alone playing computer games.
The issue is not playing games, for they are healthy activities. The issue comes down to what kind of games are played and the effect on the mind they have. Playing imaginary basketball or baseball games are one thing. Playing a graphic game where every second is violent is another. When a kid spends many hours every day killing everything in the universe a thousand times; what does that breed into their thinking?
More than anything else, I question whether this generation which has grown up addicted to video games will be able to differentiate between living in the real world vs. the fantasy worlds promoted by games and movies. What started as Star Wars and Star Trek addicts has advanced to people who literally become what they act out daily in their games. They become the very avatar they use.
This, to me, can become quite dangerous when the lines between fantasy and reality are blurred and in turn crossed. Life is not merely the extension of one's favorite game. Life is full of real life problems not who to kill next and how to keep from getting killed. Thus ends my sure to be very unpopular ramblings regarding the silent addiction no one talks about; the addiction to video and computer games.
You spoke my heart very well brother! I have come to be very against video games. Especially those who are violent. If a young kid is playing a game where he kills people and he grows up thinking that if he is mad at someone, he just has to pull out a gun and shot them. Not good.. and yet most kids in America are growing up with this.
Thanks for posting this blog!
This addition is causing more than mental problems. I remember when I was being raised you seldom would see a kid who was overweight. It is because we were out every day playing football, baseball, basketball and many other things. Couch potatoes and video addicts never work off all the calories they are taking in snacking all day on potato chips and etc.
Hey man, I just wanna say that misunderstandings like this are the reason why the older guys are struggling to relate to young people today.
You know, video games arent really the problem, inasmuch as kids turn to video games because they cant deal with stuff in real life. If you guys gave them the tools, and bolstered their faith, instead of just trashing everything theyre into (video games, metal music, all of a regular religious christians wanna moan about), the church could get a lot further in seeing Gods will become real in their lives.
You may have been playing Golf or Football when you were a kid, but kids today have different stuff in their lives that they have to deal with. Im not saying y'all didnt have problems, but what worked for your generation isnt always gonna work for this one. Im in my 20's now, and personally I just look at the stuff going on with the 13yo - 19yo age bracket, and I just go "wow, these kids have got some serious stuff to deal with". Im not even that much older than them, but already, I just see stuff in their lives Im glad I didnt go through.
Some kid being a recluse in his room, well, you may see it as the video games causing it, but I think there something way more serious than that. Yknow, he may have been rejected by his peers for some stupid reason, and maybe hes never learned to be social. He may not have the skills or personal self-confidence to go out and make friends.
Video games, are more social now than they ever were. The Nintendo Wii, which is the biggest selling console in the world at the moment, its main drawcard is the fact that its so easy to play. Its designed so that friends and family, and people who wouldnt usually play "single player games", are gonna come over for pizza, play some Mario Kart, and just have a great time together.
I just hope God opens peoples eyes and shows them the truth, and how to deal with this stuff. Im not all for video games, there is violence and stuff that is definately detrimental, and not uplifiting. But I think sometimes, the situation is deeper than what you see.
Anyways, this turned out kinda long.
God Bless, may you feel His Peace in this coming week.
what a subject to bring up b2y lol
I have 3 sons, all like to play video games. The oldest one wants to the most BUT - he is also the most involved in school activities i.e. football, soccer, track - and anything else he can do thats physical. The middle child would prefer to have a friend over and play the old fashioned way i.e. outside riding bikes or throwing rocks (lol - we monitor that as much as the games). The youngest is more like the middle child. Anyway, my thoughts are there has to be a balance, and if theres not a balance between life and games as a parent its my job to make a balance.
Undying - If the kids dont learn to face the stress around them and always turn to a video game to relief stress or forget about it, how will they survive the real world with no video games? Those that can't deal with life and enjoyed video games as kids and have grown up - know what their doing - playing video games, that's the only thing they do that helps them deal with all the pressures of life.
p.s. Goldie - totally agree - monitor what they play
WOW, an oldie but goodie I guess. As I re-read what I wrote, I can see what I was trying to get across was the fear I have that we have a whole generation which cannot separate reality from fantasy. Since writing this, I have stumbled across a very old friend who is now close to 60 years old. When we were friends we played golf, basketball and card games. Since then, he has returned to his "roots" and spends most of his free time playing various forms of "dungeons and dragons". Hearing this made me ill for he was once a very solid Christian leader.
I understand the problem lies not in the games but in the attitude of the one playing them. But, with more and more violence and adult rated material in these games, I wonder what the long term effect is going to be. Not being the least bit interested in any kind of electronic games, I supposed I am a bit prejudiced in my feelings toward the subject. As I wrote today, balance is the key to everything, including video and computer games. As for me, if I really had the time to play a game, I would still rather pull out a board game like Monopoly or Risk or even Scrabble vs. an electronic game any day.