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Dad Makes Son Honor Geneva Convention

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To play Call of Duty, 13-year-old Evan had to follow some unique rules.


We often wonder if we should let our sons play violent video games, especially ones that involve guns.

Dad Hugh Spencer came up with what we think is a brilliant solution.

When his 13-year-old son Evan wanted to play "Call of Duty," he was on the fence, since it involved guns.

"I looked at the game. I've done a lot of research for military museums so I could tell that the content was accurate -- but there was lots of shooting and blowing things up," he writes for Boing Boing. "But there was a fair bit of that during World War II. So it was undeniable that Evan was experiencing history and there was this teamwork factor."

So they compromised.

"I asked Evan to Google the Geneva Convention. Then he had to read it and then we had to discuss it. This we did. So the deal is that Evan has to fight according to the rules of the Geneva Convention. If his teammates violate the Convention, then play stops and Call of Duty goes away for a while."

Even if one follows the rules of the Geneva Convention, what effect do violent video games have on teens? A study has found that adolescents who play violent video games may exhibit lingering effects on brain function, including increased activity in the region of the brain that governs emotional arousal and decreased activity in the brain's executive function, which is associated with control, focus and concentration.

"Our study suggests that playing a certain type of violent video game may have different short-term effects on brain function than playing a nonviolent - but exciting - game," said Vincent P. Mathews, M.D., professor of radiology at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. "Based on our results, I think parents should be aware of the relationship between violent video-game playing and brain function."

Larry Ley, the director and coordinator of research for the Center for Successful Parenting, which funded Mathews' study, says the purpose of the research was to help parents make informed decisions.

"There's enough data that clearly indicates that [game violence] is a problem," he says. "And it's not just a problem for kids with behavior disorders. Let's quit using various Xboxes as babysitters instead of doing healthful activities."

Do you think this dad's solution is a good one, or are violent video games bad news for kids no matter if they honor the Geneva Convention or not?

next: Rosie's Kids Got Her to Quit Drinking
5 comments so far | Post a comment now
xyzpdq February 26, 2009, 3:56 AM

I guess it depends on whether or not Dad is right there making sure the kids are following the rules or not and how long the kids are allowed to play. My 14 yr old son is really into scary movies right now and I just think they are too violent. Our compromise is that he’s only allowed to see scary movies that are pg 13 and no more than 1 a month.

Kristen February 26, 2009, 9:22 AM

I just don’t understand how people think this is allowing their children to experience history, have them read a book for crying out loud.
I am not opposed to video games and I do think this dad was pretty clever in making this a lesson but most parents don’t do that, so I’m not worried about this kid, I’m worried about the kids with no supervision that are learning that violence is fun.
Also to the other poster, I think it’s great that you were able to find a way to compromise with your son without making the scary movies forbidden fruit, but also continuing to be a parent by being responsible for what he sees.

Lisa February 26, 2009, 9:43 AM

xyzpdq - how do YOU know that your son is only seeing 1 scary movie per month? Do you supervise him continuously? Or do you trust that when he’s at friends’ houses that he is honouring your compromise. Not watching them and then not telling you about them. Perhaps this father is exercising the same level of trust with his son and his video games.?

Ju February 27, 2009, 1:15 AM

My hubby and I love video games, he especially loves the old Nintendo stuff. I didn’t get a game system until I was 8 and ten my Daddy chose the games I got. When my daughter gets older, we plan on doing much of the same. Just because she wants it doesn’t mean she needs it or will get it.

xyzpdq February 28, 2009, 3:14 AM

Again the blog owner had to approve my message…. I hope whoever it is will take the time to read my comment and allow it to post.

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