Teaching responsible gaming to your kids
Recently, a number of different events have been making the news regarding gaming as a hobby, and I'm sad to see that the attention hasn't been positive.
The Philippines was in the news recently after the council of Salawag, a barangay in Dasmariñas, Cavite, banned the playing of video game DOTA from public Internet cafes following a number of instances of violence and hooliganism in the community.
More recently, a post on the American League of Legends forums gained traction online as people rallied for or against the "Open Letter to Parents of League of Legends Players."
The letter advocated social responsibility to other players of the game by telling parents to let their kids continue playing and then ground them once the game is done.
The two instances above are rather irksome because I feel that the games are singled out rather than looking into the behavior that causes people to become obsessive with their play.
In the Salawag example, it would appear that legislation is carrying the burden of parenting for some of these players. In the open letter, it appears to advocate a style of passive-aggressive parenting that doesn't impart the right message to younger players.
Simply put, in both cases, I feel that while the "fun" of play is warranted as a cause for concern, it does not excuse poor parenting or possibly a lack thereof.
Now, I am no parent. In that department, I am merely an observer.
What I do see, however, in some of my cousins and in a portion of the younger generation that is both technologically savvy and isolated in their experiences is the inability to take responsibility for their actions because there's no one showing them the consequences of irresponsibility.
Creating teachable moments
Over on the gaming blog Kill Ten Rats, blogger Ravious describes a parenting technique called the teachable moment. When there's a time to act on a child's irresponsibility, it is important to connect your disciplining action to the child's poor handling of a luxury given to him and the responsibility that comes with ownership of that luxury.
Ravious' example is related to the League of Legends open letter above. Instead of letting your child continue playing and then grounding him, he advocates ending the game and then making sure that the child understands his role as a responsible gamer.
He wrote, "I would pull the plug. I would use the moment to teach my child how they affected those 9 human beings with their poor responsibility. I would discuss potential fallout from their lack of responsibility. I would discuss how to approach the event next time it could occur."
While this teaches responsibility, empathy is another matter, and to that end, both Ravious and I are of the same mind: parents have to understand the world of a young video game player.
"The best thing is for a parent of a young video gamer to understand the games their child is playing, especially online games where my child can be affected by other people, and vice-versa," Ravious wrote. "A parent with such knowledge would understand how to illuminate the possible pitfalls of a child’s allotted play time. I can then illustrate that my child 'probably has only time for one match before dinner,' etc."
While parents don't have to play the games, they have to at least try and understand whether a game is proper for their child's age, whether that game can be used to teach the child useful skills such as logical judgment or empathy, and whether that game is affecting their behavior – either by virtue of the game itself or by interactions with others. – Rappler.com
Computer gaming at Internet cafe image from Shutterstock