Just the other day, I was talking to someone about how playtime has changed since when we were children. The line that my parents used to say all of the time was “go out and play” and off we would go, getting into trouble outside, coming back with scrapes, bloody knees and bruises, covered in dirt and physically exhausted. However, now it seems that kids don’t want the physical outdoor experience, they want a virtual one.
With the abundance of gaming system, portable gaming devices and powerful smartphones, is it difficult NOT to be attracted to these bright and flashy games and online worlds. Kids these days hang out both physically and virtually. They chat via text messaging or Facebook. They exchange and share photos via Instagram. And many of them are connected through video games by having created personas and personalities tied to their login name and account. Each gaming system has the profile creation process and part of the process is crafting your avatar to “represent” you.
So with gaming worlds, your kids are creating virtual identities that either reflect who they are in real life, who they want to be or something completely different. And there is no way of truly knowing who exactly the person is that they are playing with, unless they are kids that you as the parents know or if the kids are physically planning with your own child in the room together.
Honestly, I think that most parents just sort of turn their kids loose on video games. The TV has always been the digital baby sitter but that is an easy device to control. It’s passive. You can easily censor the content coming out of it. When it comes to video game consoles or devices, it is a lot more difficult to control the content and the interactions. Video gaming is active. Not only do you have to ensure that your child is playing age-appropriate games (be sure to check the ESRB rating), you need to be sure that the people that they are playing with are known, trustworthy and not potentially dangerous.
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