When I was a teenager we played Nintendo 64. My friends and I loved playing Mario Kart, NFL Blitz, and Super Mario 64.
It is breathtaking how much video game systems have advanced in the past ten to fifteen years. Recent systems like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are incredibly realistic, which poses a problem for middle school boys—but not for the reason you may think.
I personally don’t worry much about the content of the video games that boys play. Sure, they can be violent (Call of Duty) and contain sexually explicit material (Grand Theft Auto), but a lot of that is not much different from what they can see in PG-13 movies.
I hate video games because of the amount of time they suck from boys’ lives.
Teenage boys have all the time in the world, so many resources at their disposal, a ton of potential, and so much to be discovered about themselves and the world. Instead, boys are content to spend a good chunk of their lives in front of a TV screen.
When a boy tells me he plays lots of video games I want to say to him, “When you’re an adult you’d kill to have the free time you have right now, and you’re choosing to spend it playing video games?!?”
Granted, I’m sure middle school boys have always been drawn to video games. My friends and I probably wasted plenty of time on my Nintendo 64.
The difference today is the graphics are so advanced they are almost life-like. This means games are highly entertaining to play, which in turn makes it easier for teenage boys to spend excessive amounts of time gaming. In some ways I can’t blame boys for spending so much time playing video games.
Video games are easy and mind-numbing. As an adult I wonder how gaming affect a boy’s motivation, his ability to relate to real people face-to-face, his worldview, and his soul? How are his video game habits today going to affect him ten years down the road?
Video games aren’t bad. I’m not wired to be a huge gamer, but I enjoy playing them from time to time. They’re sometimes a great means to connect with boys, but personally my brain is fried after about an hour of gaming.
People who play video games aren’t bad, and parents who let their boys play video games aren’t bad. However, on more than one occasion I’ve wanted to rip a middle school boy’s gaming system out of the wall, throw it out the window, and get him out of the house to explore a world that sits at his fingertips.
I know parents have a tough battle when it comes to video games. If all of your son’s friends have the coolest new game and their parents don’t limit the amount of time their kids play, you’re suddenly uncool and mean by not providing him with the same privilege. And sometimes gaming is all he wants to do.
I don’t have an easy solution if that’s your situation, but don’t just throw up your hands and let your son have his way if all he wants to do is play video games. A boy’s middle school years are too formative and too short to spend them with a game controller in his hands the whole time.