Video/Computer Games: Drug of Choice

After the blitz of the holiday season, I have several rants bouncing about in my rattled mind. Perhaps I’m a bit raw since I have an extremely active toddler (whose toddler isn’t active?), however, there must be some logic behind my recent annoyance with video/computer game usage in close proximity to my child and I.

Full disclosure that I do come from the generation that was enchanted by the Atari home game system, original Nintendo and Sega Genesis. As such, I was exposed to this form of entertainment and even at one point in time was familiar with some of the popular games. I’m not trying to be a hypocrite when being critical in the following diatribe.

Gaming has blossomed into a full-scale entertainment world of its own, complete with movie trailers that advertise the next best program. Obviously there have been some major advances in this medium since the 80s and 90s last century including connecting people throughout the world on the internet to play with each other on many different game options.

I’ve witnessed college students who are either engrossed heavily in a game system or just socially play during their down time (wish we had that downtime these days!). My husband and I lived and worked in the Washington DC area where we had friends that he would occasionly enjoy the latest NCAA or NFL football video game–and these were guys working at high levels in Congress, Executive Branch and other areas of our nation’s government.

As alcohol, caffeine and nicotine are drugs that are deemed legal for those of the appropriate age in our American society, I sense that this gaming culture offers similar psychological and physical enticements to people of all ages (whether or not a game is age-appropriate or not). In fact, I also believe that just as the aforementioned drugs can adversely affect one’s social and family life when used in excess, the same is true for video/computer games as a drug of choice.

In the past month or so, I have been in close contact with persons close to me who play these games. I have been both cheered and revolted as I’ve tried to keep my son from exposure. Thank you to the family member who would immediately turn off the TV when playing a violent shooter game after my son and I walked through the door. No thank you to those who are so engrossed that they forget who’s around and even when made aware continue to inhale a worthless usage of their time.

Again, let me stress to any who may be offended at reading my scathing words that I’m not declaring that these video/computer games should never be played. Yet, considering them as a drug of choice, I do think that people need to evaluate why they do play them and examine closely to make sure that they aren’t doing themselves or others around them harm by spending hours a day on them.

I once played video games on a weekend here and there while a student but as life’s gates opened in my early twenties I personally reached a point where I stopped nearly altogether any sort of gaming-save for some tic-tac-toe type game when in the dead office hours during my desk job days. We have so much coming at us these days, I can’t fathom how people can and do spend so much time voluntarily glued to a screen when they walk away with nothing but a digital experience that fades until the next drug-like high, level reached, shooter game conquered, et cetera.

My message to those young people who are in college or freshly minted young adults aquiver with opinions and protests about how our society is so poisonous, politics are horrible and the complaints go on: STOP wasting your mind then on these games when out of your mouth you disdain the world around you that you seem to ignore and avoid when investing your precious time and mind energy on useless video/computer game outcomes.

To my colleagues who are parents: beware for your children, include gaming as just another drug you need to be aware of. You know what’s best for your child/children, I will not dictate what you should consider doing. I will share with you that although my children may hate me at times, I am willing to risk that hatred as my husband and I have decided that there will be zero tolerance in our home for video games. It means I’ll be very exhausted in coming years but safeguarding the development of their personal discipline habits, imagination, verbal and social skills will be worth every wrinkle and gray hair I develop.


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