So often I am not home early enough in the day to get to spend time in the evening with my son. So Elizabeth and I have a slight ritual when I come home later in the evening of recanting the day’s details. We were having a late dinner in the kitchen last week, and nothing that was being talked about seemed out of the ordinary. Then the conversation steered onto what Liam talks about a school. Apparently his teacher had talked to Elizabeth about Liam talking about guns, shooting, and playing Halo.
This caught me abruptly off guard. We are fairly progressive household, we don’t own guns. So the thought of my four-year-old child going to school and talking about guns seems incredibly odd. He doesn’t watch a lot of incredibly violent shows. We don’t have cable or satellite in the house. We don’t even have regular television in the house. The only thing that he has access to as far as visual media are Video Games, YouTube, and DVD/Blu Ray.
All these forms of media are intensely censored. I don’t mean to say that we’re somehow trying to shelter our child from the realities of life. More that we simply exercise good judgment in deciding how much and what type of media are young child should be exposed to. As he grows older and develops his own personality and a set of logic/reason skills these decisions will be up to him to make. I have let him play video games in the last year. The majority of the time it has been Mario Kart on the Wii. On two occasions I have let him play Halo with me, but for obvious reasons of hand-eye coordination, and a limited understanding of what is happening on the screen it has only happened those two occasions.
Our son also has Nerf guns and toy ninja swords. He loves the Ninja Turtles and the Ninjago Legos. He has asked before in the past if he could take his Nerf gun with him to the store, or out somewhere in public and the answer has always been the same. We have explained to him that guns even toy guns can make some people uncomfortable. So toy guns are just for at home. We never take them to school or out in public and we don’t talk about them, because you don’t want to hurt other people’s feelings. No I don’t feel but letting my child have Nerf guns or toy foam ninja swords is in any manner irresponsible of me as a parent
I am now questioning if me letting him play Halo at such a young age was a poor decision. I think that the outside Observer may scratch their head, stare at me oddly, and say of course it is if your child talking about it at school. There’s most certainly more to that story though. With the limited hours that I am home most days, and in turn the lacking amount of time that I’m able to consistently spend with my son there’s an ever-growing desire on his part to associate on a deeper level with me.
I have always loved to play Halo! I have even gone as far as to write an article about how much I love Halo, in comparison to other inferior FPS games. So the strong association from him with the game Halo may not inherently be because of his limited exposure to it. This just may be an indication that my child is trying to fill in the gap between the relationship that he has and the relationship that he desires with his father. He is also madly in love with World of Warcraft and Star Wars. He has had zero exposure to World of Warcraft, and his media interactions with Star Wars are similarly limited having watched a couple of the movies on a couple occasions.
The conversation with my Wife the other evening and the subsequent conversation that I had the next morning with my son over breakfast regarding what is appropriate to talk about at school flagged something far more important in my mind. It’s not necessarily the relationship that I have with my child, but the things that I tie importance to he will inevitably associate as being important to me. They’re also things that he may place a greater priority on as he grows older. I started these thoughts out in my head before sitting down to write this article, and thought I was going to ask the question “when should you allow your child to begin experiencing video games?” Through the process of the experience that I had with my son, I have found that it is not the content of the media that is as important as the interaction I have with my child.
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