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When Are Kids Old Enough to Play Videogames?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the old-enough-to-make-the-jump-in-1-1 dept.

Games 503

A piece at the MTV Multiplayer blog is exploring the issue of kids and gaming, wondering aloud how old is 'old enough'. A recent CES talk indicated that you should wait until at least seven to introduce your children to Mario, and we've talked in the past about the educational role games can have. MTV's Tracey John spoke to a pair of mothers who offered their own opinions on this topic: "When I asked Alisa why she thought that games weren't imaginative and explained that many games have challenging, puzzle-solving elements, she conceded a little but remained skeptical. 'Honestly, I haven't really explored video games thoroughly, and I'm sure there are video games that fit more the bill of something that I'd be interested in, but I'm kind of hard-pressed to find a game that's like reading a book or something like that. I understand the kids like it, so I allow them to do it; it's monitored but it's not my favorite thing for them to be doing.'" What's the right age for a kid to start playing games? Do you see games as more or less acceptable than traditional kid pastimes like TV or reading? Does it matter if the parents are gaming-savvy?

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503 comments

When Are Kids Old Enough to Play Videogames? (0, Flamebait)

daninspokane (1198749) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170402)

When Are Kids Old Enough to Play Videogames?
When they are old enough to not stop crying and annoy the shit out of their parents.

ignorant (0, Flamebait)

deathtopaulw (1032050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170406)

If you are not sure about whether or not there are games equal to books yet, then you're an idiot and should stay out of the argument. Leave it to people who have played the games, and know what they're talking about.

Re:ignorant (1)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170590)

Wouldn't the more important point be not whether there is value to the games, but whether playing games at an early age will assist or hinder the child's chances of fitting in with their family culture?

Families with game centric leisure time habits would benefit their children by teaching them early on how to participate in these activities.

Other types of families, outdoorsy families for instance, would be doing their child a disservice by substituting a video game console for a babysitter (as some busy parents do). This child is not learning skills that will assist in the healthy integration with their family unit.

The value of any activity is not only measured by a person's enjoyment of the activity, but also by peripheral benefits... one of which is kinship with other participants in the activity.

Re:ignorant (5, Insightful)

slyn (1111419) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170630)

If you are not sure about whether or not there are games equal to books yet, then you're an idiot and should stay out of the argument. Leave it to people who have played the games, and know what they're talking about.

I would find it hard to make the argument that games will ever "equal" books, for the same reason that movie versions of books often don't live up to the original books.

Books require a lot more imagination than games or movies because you have to infer what the people/places/things in the book look/act like based off of the descriptions.

That being said, I think it is hard to compare the three. A book like Hitchhikers Guide would make a poor game (IMO). A game like Metal Gear would make a poor movie (IMO). A game like Bioshock would make a poor book (IMO). But each of those excel at what medium they actually are expressed in.

Is a game of catch like a book? (1)

MacDork (560499) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170658)

Or tag? Or t-ball? Why should video games be held to such a standard? I guess she figures if her kid is going to be a nerd, the kid should at least be the smart kind of nerd... Perhaps a bad rep on the part of video gamers rather than the games themselves?

Re:ignorant (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170852)

If you are not sure about whether or not there are games equal to books yet, then you're an idiot and should stay out of the argument.
That's not the point. The act of reading itself has considerable educational value; the storyline is just the hook. After all, we're talking kids here. "Elmo Goes to the Zoo" (or even "Harry Potter and the Next Sequel") aren't exactly Great Literature.

That a mother recognizes this does not make her an "idiot" and it certainly doesn't disqualify her from comment. Although it also doesn't disqualify the idea that some games can promote other skills.

Re:ignorant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22170896)

If you are not sure about whether or not there are games equal to books yet, then you're an idiot and should stay out of the argument. Leave it to people who have played the games, and know what they're talking about.
I don't think I'll be taking parenting advice from someone named "deathtopaulw." Just saying.

As for games being equal to books...tell me one. Few actually manage to remark on anything resembling the human condition at the moment, most seem focused on thrills and production values. In time, I hope this changes. Too bad money-grubbing companies are too busy trying to cram ads in-game instead of making the writing better and fleshing out a mythos that encompasses the game. As flawed as Halo's story is, they did a great job with the various alien races, planets, and history within the Halo universe. I found it rather compelling.

They are old enough when... (5, Insightful)

umrguy76 (114837) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170412)

the parent(s) decide they are old enough. IMHO

Take some responsibility for your kids, parents, it doesn't hurt as bad as you might think.

Re:They are old enough when... (5, Informative)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170562)

You know, part of taking responsibility is listening to expert opinions before making your decision. Making an arbitrary choice without becoming informed first is not taking responsibility, it's avoiding it.

Re:They are old enough when... (4, Interesting)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170884)

You know, part of taking responsibility is listening to expert opinions before making your decision.

Which experts, the ones working for the games industry, or the ones sponsored by 'pro family' groups?

Expert advice is ok up to a point, that point being not very far on what should be a relatively simple issue.

Young kids need exercise to build themselves up, and they won't get it by sitting on their backsides playing games. If you can't figure that one out for yourself 'expert' advice won't do jack.

A mum in my street with exactly the same access to information as me has two horrendously overweight and unhealthy kids (seriously, adult weight at 13, thats serious, and they started off thin). My kid likes the games, but he gets plenty of exercise, and wasn't allowed to start playing computer games a lot until I was sure he had a decent amount of time running about/playing in his life occurring *without* a special effort being made.

Re:They are old enough when... (4, Interesting)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170804)

the parent(s) decide they are old enough. IMHO

From the sumary:

'Honestly, I haven't really explored video games thoroughly, and I'm sure there are video games that fit more the bill of something that I'd be interested in, but I'm kind of hard-pressed to find a game that's like reading a book or something like that. I understand the kids like it, so I allow them to do it; it's monitored but it's not my favorite thing for them to be doing

Parents should know what they're letting their kids do before they let them do it. I was playing arcade games long befpre I had any kids, the quoted parent should do a little research, both on child development and the games themselves.

I sought out videogames for my kids. Sesame Street games when they were Sesame Street age, Carmen Santiago later, etc. When they were teens we had a couple of PCs networked and played Road Rash and Quake II together.

Oddly, my ex-wife came to hate video games after enjoying the arcades earlier and the daughters became "daddy's girls" (I played whiffleball with them, as well as playing their "girl things" with them since their mom wouldn't, too. Evil-X wasn't a very good mom). My youngest turns 21 in March, she's manager of a Gamestop store now.

But what would you expect from the daughter of the guy who started the Springfield Fragfest Quake site?

But more freom the ignorant parent quoted above: I'm kind of hard-pressed to find a game that's like reading a book

Hear that, game developers? How about some old fashioned early 80s text adventures?

or something like that

Where in the world is Carmen Santiago? My kids loved that game. IIRC they were in grade school, but honestly I enjoyed it, too.

-mcgrew

Re:They are old enough when... (5, Funny)

UnanimousCoward (9841) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170846)

Totally agree with the above.

My $0.02: We don't allow our kids to play video games in our house, but don't say that they can't do so at their friends' houses. That way, we never see our kids :-)

Re:They are old enough when... (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170878)

I got my 18 month old playing video games. Not every day, but once every couple weeks I'll sit her down with the GameCube and Disney Cars. She's smart enough to push the big green button to drive, and steer a little bit, but the driving is completely random, and not controlled in anyway whatsoever. Sometimes she'll just press the start button over and over again to hear the horn beeping. I don't think kids are ever really too young for video games. It's something fun to do, and is probably a lot better for them in the end than watching TV. They shouldn't be playing video games every second of their life, but they shouldn't be watching that much TV either.

Sorry, but that isn't insight (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22171008)

I know I shouldn't expect much from people at this site, since none of you probably have any actual children, but parent is extremely overrated.

Doling out glib recommendations to recklessly experiment with one's children is irresponsible and unwise. There have been 10+ years of scientific studies about influences of video games. Asking a parent in this day and age to "wing it" with regard to their child's developmental psychology is actually quite offensive and contrary to the purpose of this article.

If a thinly-veiled insult to the questioner's parenting skills and a bromide is the best advice you had to give on this topic, I don't see why you responded at all.

Re:They are old enough when... (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22171056)

last time I checked, parent's don't know anything about video games most of the time. But hey, my parents decided to put some educational games like Math Blaster on our old windows 95 computer when I was about 8 and I loved em! I thought they were totally awesome! All those games totally improved my math and reading and problem solving skills and I did great in school. And now I'm a software programmer so there you go lol. I say as long as it's kid appropriate and they can read, any age is fine cuz it'll probably help them more than hurt them. As for the screaming 8 year olds on Halo 2 on Xbox Live, that's a big NO though.

When you think they are (1)

nuzak (959558) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170416)

Seriously, not all kids are the same. Okay, if you want a relative benchmark: when they're old enough to enjoy it. There. They're still young enough that you can control what games they play and for how long.

I swear, what's with the slashdot obsession over video games?

Re:When you think they are (1)

winkydink (650484) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170586)

Exactly! My 5-yr old loves Disney Toontown. And it does require some abstract reasoning & puzzle solving.

Re:When you think they are (3, Interesting)

LithiumX (717017) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170818)

Seriously, not all kids are the same. Okay, if you want a relative benchmark: when they're old enough to enjoy it. There. They're still young enough that you can control what games they play and for how long.
Agreed. I don't believe there is a lower boundary to gaming, only lower limits for specific types of games - and those limits depend on the child.

I started my niece and nephew on games at an early age - but I kept it strictly limited to older and simpler games, primarily Atari 2600 ports. When they're 3-4 years old, they can't understand anything overly complicated and should focus primarily on movement and avoidance, as well as pursuit of obvious goals. The games should be fairly easy as well, until they begin to reach their second decade (or until they start to show real skill and need a challenge).

A younger kid can easily enjoy a primitive video game just as well as we could (back when those games were new). It's not until they're exposed to more modern games that the old games begin to show their age. Tempest, Galaga, Pac-Man, Space Invaders, Robotron, and other simple games are ideal for children. Save the modern console games for later, when their minds are hungry for more. Educational games are great, but entertainment is a goal in itself - and entertainment is the first priority of any game, with educational value being a secondary bonus in some cases. Do the education yourself, and let them learn to have fun with their games before you start turning them into work.

That said, educational games are extremely useful, and can form a major component of their learning. They have little value until the child can read well, though. Reading software is entertaining, but usually (from what I've experienced with my relatives) are susceptible to being bypassed by an imaginative child - my niece got through most of her "reading" games without bothering to actually read much.

The key issue, and the one that people usually seem to miss or be incapable of enforcing, is moderation. Limited video game time will not harm your child. Parents can maintain total control of any source of video games when their children are young, and can maintain significant control even into their teens. The primary mistake average parents make is the same one our parents usually made with TV - specifically, using it as a pacifier. If you hand your kid a console, show them how to use it on their own, and then provide very little supervision, the kid WILL spend hours upon hours on his games. Too much time spent in a virtual environment just plain isn't good - but that doesn't mean that limited and controlled time, especially when active parental interaction is involved, is in any way damaging.

Moderation is key, in almost all things. Especially when it comes to children and video games.

Re:When you think they are (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170854)

I swear, what's with the slashdot obsession over video games?

Have you seen the masthead? Hint: It's not "news for middle aged IT managers and PHBs". If you are in fact a nerd, then you are the first one I've ever seen who isn't at at least interested in video games.

BTW, I'm 55 and I still play them.

-mcgrew

Lucky you, no journal today.

Re:When you think they are (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170974)

exactly! age has very little do do with when you introduce kids to video games or anything else for that matter. there are younger kids able/mature enough to play video games than much older kids that really don't have the maturity/skill to play. being dead set on a certain age is just another lazy and ignorant excuse parents use to justify their lack of involvement in what their kids are doing. "You can't play this game until you're 12" is another way of saying "I don't want you to play this because I said so."

Babies (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170422)

I was at a computer show&sale once and one of the people running one of the booths had his kids (I assume) sitting on the table behind him playing some car racing game. They couldn't have been older than two and three.

When they can press the buttons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22170430)

Think about it.

Re:When they can press the buttons? (2, Funny)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170918)

Think about it.

No, technology's not quite that advanced yet. You still have to press the buttons.

They can play them when... (5, Funny)

lonesome_coder (1166023) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170432)

...they know not to wiped out my saved game. Little bastards...

Re:They can play them when... (2, Insightful)

sayfawa (1099071) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170792)

...and learn how to put the disks back in their cases instead of data side down on the floor. Filthy rugrats.

Young as the child/parent wants (1)

Veilrap (875588) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170436)

Age 3 seems old enough to me. But if a kid has hand-eye coordination skills better than the average 3 year old , let them play younger. If they develop more slowly then wait til 4 or something. But really this is a nonissue.

As soon as they're interested (4, Insightful)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170442)

No reason to force your kindergartner to play Grand Theft Auto, but if they want to play Mario or Pong or Tetris, it'll probably do more for their brain and development than passively watching VeggieTales.

Re:As soon as they're interested (5, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170662)

it'll probably do more for their brain and development

I think the key to both activities is adult interaction. With my 4-year-old, he plays some strategy games on the computer, and I explain a little about what is going on and why. When I am at work, he will play around and show me what he has come up with, and sometimes I am impressed what his little mind comes up with. I think if he were just left on his own mashing buttons, he'd get little out of it (now when the little booger can beat me at the games, it won't be so cute ). Same with TV shows. If you find educational programming and spend time discussing and applying it, then it can be useful. You don't even want to know how many life lessons you can get from Thomas the Tank Engine!

Re:As soon as they're interested (1)

ubergoober (151136) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170946)

My 4 year old plays Grand theft auto, and I fully endorse it. Its actually a great starter for his young mind. It doesn't register to try and hit people or use guns, he just likes moving the character around and exploring. I recommend it over a ridiculous spongebob game for engaging him and teaching him the mechanics of games.

Only issue I have and wish I could control is the violence level when he accidentally runs over a pedestrian while driving. Maybe rockstar could program in a kiddy mode without weapons or collision mechanics tied to gore?

Umm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22170444)

Since when has MTV or anyone affiliated with it had an opinion that matters?

Edubuntu (4, Interesting)

spribyl (175893) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170446)

I installed Edunbuntu on a old laptop and my 4yr old loves the Childs Play games.
I have a one of the $20 multi game things. Mr PacMan, Pole Pos, Xevious, Mappy, Galaga.
My kids like to watch me and my wife play.
My two year old thinks he is the ghosts when he plays Ms. Pacman, and he also seems to like Xevious.
I should note my kids don't know how to work the VCR, DVD, or TV remote and are have a very limited TV schedule and game time is even less then that.

So I guess, when they are able to physically play let them play. It is now part of our culture.
I expect to get a wii sometime this year just need to save my pennies.

TV (4, Interesting)

daveo0331 (469843) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170452)

Playing a video game, where they're actually interacting, thinking, solving puzzles, whatever, is far better than just sitting there passively staring at the screen. And if you get them a Wii, there's even an element of exercise to it.

Re:TV (1)

nacturation (646836) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170610)

Playing a video game, where they're actually interacting, thinking, solving puzzles, whatever, is far better than just sitting there passively staring at the screen. And if you get them a Wii, there's even an element of exercise to it.
Agreed... much better than the "glass teat" as the Onion puts it. The only thing I'd add is that as long as it's in moderation and mixed up with other activities, I think it would be more beneficial than not having video games. Having kids play with Lego, Tinkertoy, Meccano, etc. is also vital for their spatial awareness. Combine video games with physical toys and getting them outdoors for some social sports, and I think that would make for a fairly well-rounded kid.
 

!TV (1)

joggle (594025) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170680)

She wasn't comparing playing games to watching TV but to reading books.

While there is problem solving and such playing games I find that I'm usually thinking more abstract concepts and higher order thoughts when reading interesting books so I can see her point.

To me, the key is moderation, especially with playing video games.

Why is TV OK but games aren't? (4, Insightful)

Erioll (229536) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170462)

You have to approach this through terms they know, in that any form of media you expose kids to, you have to ask someone why one is OK and another isn't? If it's pure ignorance, they have no case. If they start citing things like violence, imagery, etc, you confront them with the ratings system, and inquire about how they choose movies, TV, etc, and why they'd allow a higher rating on the games than the other media, and then start complaining about the games.

Just as I wouldn't expose a child to the "Saw" series I probably wouldn't give them GTA or some of the more gory games either. So why is there such an uproar about the latter, but not the former? It's just plain ignorance.

Re:Why is TV OK but games aren't? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22170900)

Maybe there's an uproar because people don't know anything about things they don't see on TV, and, really, the vast majority of games don't get advertised on television. People know Saw isn't for children because the ads for the movie make it patently obvious. But the only way anyone can tell anything about the content of most games is actually looking at the box and at the rating, which takes actual (minor) effort to accomplish. It's the same reason that people still get pissed when they take their small children to see movies that are advertised as family movies, but are clearly rated PG-13.

Video games arn't OK (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170992)

A friend of mine coaches kids for weight loss in the "Shape Down" program. Among the things that are no-nos are TV and video games: including educational games. It's encouraged to get outside and get some physical activity.

Re:Video games arn't OK (1)

Erioll (229536) | more than 6 years ago | (#22171072)

A friend of mine coaches kids for weight loss in the "Shape Down" program. Among the things that are no-nos are TV and video games: including educational games. It's encouraged to get outside and get some physical activity.
There's nothing wrong with physical activity, and is in fact a GREAT thing to get more of whenever possible (I work out 3 times a week myself, plus whatever I do for fun beyond that), but would this same person say "make sure not to read books, as that's a sessile activity"? I would put the odds of that at near-zero.

You need physical activity, but saying all activities where you're sitting down is bad is rather over-simplistic.

Is that a trick question? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22170468)

Right out of the hospital, I'd say. It's a matter of finding the right controller. A tit shaped force feedback controller perhaps?

Remember (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170482)

Before the flamewars begin, let's all agree that sane kids will not kill somebody in real life just because they can do it in a video game.

Video Games TV (1)

jlf278 (1022347) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170490)

At least with video games you are interacting, often problem solving. There are MANY video games that I would consider stimulating and educational (not in the academic sense). Is reading more beneficial? Maybe. But to suggest introducing your kids to video games after they hit 7 seems overly traditional/conservative/ignorant. Not all games have obvious stimulating interaction like Dance Dance Revolution, Wii Sports, or Rock Band, but they certainly require more brain power than the vast majority of stuff of TV 6 year olds watch for hours with glazed over eyes.

As soon as they have the ability to. (1)

Bo0bMeIsTeR (1066964) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170498)

I began playing video games further back then i remember, but i do know one thing, i learned a considerable amount from them. For example, i have developed my reflexes and learned to drive in video games. Now in actually driving i have used those skills more times than can be counted, but i do know that because of it i have yet to smash up the car. People say video games are violent, however i believe that it is a place where you can take your violence out with no consequence rather then in the real world. I have learned problem solving skills in some cases (although normally limited) but in newer games this is becoming more prevalent. (Portal for example). I believe video games do a lot of good for the kiddies.

Well I was... (1)

solar_blitz (1088029) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170500)

I was 3 when I first played a video game. It was PacMan on an Atari. Never really cared for it, though. Then I got a Nintendo for Christmas of 1990. I was 5.

Seven is a good age, and five is okay as well. But I'd be paying close attention to the games my child plays, and the games he/she plays at their little friends' house. If I find them playing Grand Theft Auto at the next-door neighbor's house at the age of 10, I'm going to have a stern talk with the parent. They can't use the excuse "video games are harmless" because I'd just show them my International Game Developers' Association card - they knew I knew better than them. w0rd. Then I'd show them the master's degree I earned in media studies.

Re:Well I was... (2, Insightful)

crabpeople (720852) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170940)

"Grand Theft Auto at the next-door neighbor's house at the age of 10, I'm going to have a stern talk with the parent."
Why? You do know that video games are not real right? They arent actually stealing real cars... My girlfriends 5 year old loves just driving around in GTA, because he sees me driving around IRL and wants to imitate it. Its more about spending time with the kids then the content of the game. Racing games where you can both drive around together teaches sportsmanship and gives the kid a sense of self confidence (if you let him win sometimes :). Im actually surprised how well he can control the cars, turning into curves and not hitting the sides (like me).

"I'd just show them my International Game Developers' Association card - they knew I knew better than them. w0rd. Then I'd show them the master's degree I earned in media studies."
See kids, this is what we call an egotistical self important asshole who, lacking real world experience or any evidence to back up his point, has fallen back on a little piece of paper (or two) that he claims allows him to dictate morality, and also apparently sound parenting advice (they teach that in media studies? who knew!). Please dont grow up to be like this man.

My kids did not "start" it has just always been... (5, Interesting)

netsavior (627338) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170508)

I have 2 kids, 2.5 and 1.5 they both have always had video games around I mean they probably heard Zelda In utero. They both know how to move a guy on the screen with a d-pad, they both know how to push buttons, how to get a game to boot up on a gameboy (insert game switch power on).

There was no "start" I played games with the kids in my lap from the first day they were born. It is part of their life, part of their culture, part of their education.

It is like asking how old they should be before they are allowed to listen to a conversation...

Re:My kids did not "start" it has just always been (1)

LionKimbro (200000) | more than 6 years ago | (#22171024)

Here here.

Playing video games, while holding a tiny baby in the lap -- same here.

She first started playing Starcraft when she was 4, [taoriver.net] I am proud to say, and yet she was playing Wind Waker before that.

Amber & I both remember with great fondness when we first found her, running around in Wind Waker, fully competent, attacking goblins with a sword. Just the day before, she was bonking into walls. 24 hours later, she's running around gleefully, cheering, hacking up monsters. We are so proud!

Presently, she's six, and we're playing Okami [wikipedia.org] tag-team. Soon, she will be 7, which means Shichi-go-san... [tsubakishrine.com] We take our video games and literature very seriously. :D

go for it.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22170510)

My child is 4 and he can turn on the tv, select video inputs, turn on the xbox/xbox 360, and play Halo 1, 2, and 3. He can play just about any shooter game, driving game.. some GTA (doesn't do missions, just drives around- jumps ramps, follows the law when driving, etc). I suppose he's my little science experiment. I'll post in about 15 years to see whether or not it was bad for him.

When they can hold a controller. (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170534)

When they're old enough to hold a controller you can start them out with Pacman. When they're a little older, move on to Mario. When they're 10 or so, introduce them to Doom. When they're 13 or 14, they can probably handle some GTA. It's like the history of the video game industry in microcosm. Ontogeny recapitulates gameogeny?

SEVEN!? (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170536)

First, I started programming before I was seven. BASIC for the TRS-80 Model I, and it only warped my slightly.

Second, My kids started Flash based games at 2 and 3-years old. For my older, I think it is good to teach him decision making, and giving him a desire to read (so he doesn't have to ask daddy which button to push each time he starts a new game).

I will not allow them to play a game with violence to people (or animals).... I steer away from them myself (usually ). A five year old playing Mortal Kombat is not cool.

So, basically, it comes down to the kid and the type of game.

Seeing how Videogames are destroying my generation (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22170538)

I'd suggest not letting them play them. Who cares if it ostracizes them from a subset of friends, those kids are all going to be addicts anyways. They have prematurely thrown their lives away.

I've seen the finest minds of my generation wasting away on XBOX and other console games, spending hours playing WoW and working dead-end jobs (computer janitors) to feed their addiction.

Videogames waste people. Don't let your kids become waste.

Oblig Mitch (5, Insightful)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170542)

"Every book is a childrens book if the kid can read."

Whether a child is "Ready" for such things isnt something that can really be generalized. It really depends on each individual child, their ability to see the difference between reality and escapism, and their desire to make use of this kind of media.

hmm... (3, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170556)

When I was growing up, for educational games we had Number Munchers, Oregon Trail, Otter Lake, etc. While educational, we never really thought of them as being so because of how they were designed; they were just plain fun, while still being highly educational. Most games I see for kids nowadays seem to be more about entertainment than education.

For me personally, I would want my kid to play things like an Atari 2600, old NES games, old arcade games like Galaga, etc. The purpose behind this is to improve their hand/eye coordination and reaction time, two things that would benefit them in every day life. While every child is different, if pressed to pick an average I would say sometime between the ages of 4-6, depending on the intelligence level and how quickly they developed.

when they can hold the controller (1)

jenilyn (645376) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170560)

It's just like everything else out there, use in moderation. Don't let your kid play Star Wars Lego all day long, every day, whether they're 3 or 10 (or 20 for that matter). Also, don't let them eat bananas all day long, either. And tooth brushing, they shouldn't do that all day, every day.

People are pretty sturdy. If you parent, as a verb, and observe your kids, you'll figure out what's okay, and what's causing them to freak out. Avoid the latter.

MY kids (1)

alta (1263) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170618)

Ok, they're 5.5 and 3.5. Both boys. They currently play Starwars battlefront II, and starwars lego's on the PS2. The younger one has a harder time, so he's not as interested, but he loves to visit noggin, Sesame street, starfall, Nick, which all are educational. The older one LOVES to play transformers on the PC, and used to love need for speed underground, but when he got old enough where I thought he'd notice the questionable language and skin colored graphics, that game suddenly dissapeared. They have a number of other educational games on the PC. I made the mistake of getting the PS2 this christmas before learning there are nearly 0 educational games for it.

Leave it to the parents (1)

Skaarg (1226352) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170628)

Personally I think it's up to the parents to decide when they want their kids playing video games. Me I've been around video games all my life. When I was a baby my dad used to turn Baseball for the NES on and just let it play the demo or he'd play SMB and I'd fall asleep. When I was three I started playing their old NES, of course then I wasn't good, but then I got a console of my own, a SNES, when I turned 4. So really I've turned out to be a good person, but I think it depends on the parents and how the kid(s) reacts to video games.

Re:Leave it to the parents (1)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 6 years ago | (#22171044)

I grew up on Super Mario 3, Zelda, Bubble Bobble- all great for hand-eye coordination, and Battleship- great for strategy and analytical thinking. I started playing when I was 3... other than getting to play Doom 2 at my cousin's house sometimes (I'm not a violent person, but I don't think it did me any good), I think video games were an overall positive influence. Of course, back then we had to turn off the console after a while because it tended to freeze up when it heated up too much, so limiting play time was simpler. I think a child can play video games as soon as the parents are ready to supervise and make sure it doesn't become the only thing they do.

Own Experience (1)

usul294 (1163169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170650)

I'm 19, so I'm relatively young, the first game I played was Duck Hunt, at a friends house, when I was about 4. My parents didn't care if I occasionally played SNES or Genesis at my friends houses, but they were apprehensive for me to have my own system. My parents decided to see if I would go bonkers playing games and ignoring everything else if I had a system, so we borrowed my uncle's Genesis, put it in my bedroom with an old tv, that wasn't hooked up to cable or anything. I played a few hours a week, so that Christmas I had a brand new N64('96, I was 8, almost 9) with Shadows of the Empire. I'd consider myself a gamer now, I still play less than 10 hours a week on average, its a healthy diversion, and it sure beats TV.

I think that as long as kids consider that games are a fun thing to do, but don't let it consume them, theres nothing wrong with having them play. I had Shadows at 8, which these days would probably be rated M, but I knew it was fake, and I was just controlling a guy kinda like Han. As long as someone is mature enough to be able to play games without letting it become the only thing they want to do it is just fine.

3-4 for Wii sports games (4, Interesting)

landimal_adurotune (824425) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170660)

When we were snowed in last week my daughter and I played some Wii tennis. She's 3.5 years old, bowling was a bit much for her and she lacked the eye-hand coordination for the baseball game. She also likes to hop around on Dance Dance Revolution mats, but is pretty far from being able to line up steps with the screen.
I know I was a Pac-man player around age 5-6, but with the Wii being so engaging I can see kids taking off using it sooner. Plus in areas with terrible weather it is a nice way to keep kids moving when outdoor play is not available.

Old enough? (3, Insightful)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170684)

My daughter is already facinated by games, and she's 3. She loves watching daddy play WoW, and most Wii games. She doesn't have the cooridnation yet, but she still loves to play games.

I think any time a child shows interest in any activity, as long as it's monitored and moderated, they should be allowed to do it. And as far as how it compares to the TV; games are more like books that a child can play. I personally think they rank right up there with books as far as importance in this day and age ( note that this means if my daughter plays games for an hour, we read for an hour too ).

Simple (1)

Sta7ic (819090) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170686)

"When there's doubt, there is no doubt."

If you aren't sure if your kids are old enough, don't let them play games. Parents are supposed to make the major choices for their kids, last time I checked. Why is this even a question?

Interesting source... (2, Funny)

Lurker2288 (995635) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170898)

I'm not sure if it's awesome or awesomely disturbing that you've just cribbed parenting advice from the movie 'Ronin.' Bold move, in any case. I can't wait to tell my kids that they talk a good game in the living room, but they're weak when they put their spikes on.

subject (1)

hellfish006 (1000936) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170700)

I was 3 when I first started playing, it was Rad Racer, World Class Track Meet and Mario. Then it was jeopardy and wheel of fortune. Reader Rabbit, Mario Teaches Typing...

Depends on the child, of course. (1)

Zerbey (15536) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170704)

My 5 year old showed really no interest in computers until he was 4 years old. He plays age appropriate games, eg the stuff Fisher Price put out but also loves Guitar Hero. I don't see any problem with video games, they are improving his hand-eye coordination and rational thinking.

My 2 year old, on the other hand is already into computers but still at the randomly hitting keys to see what happens stage. So, we have an older machine that I don't mind him beating up on and some simple video games to nuture his interest. I think this is the one that'll follow me into the IT field.

We also spend plenty of time teaching our children traditional games as well. Seems to me almost every toy you get now requires AA batteries (not included) so I've made a point of buying manual toys for them to play with. Lego is a big hit! It's important to have a balance between the old and new.

every kid is different (1)

Flint Dragon (597473) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170712)

Yes, some toddlers/pre-k kids will pick up a mouse/joystick/wiimote and thrash it around because they can't quite understand what they are doing nor have the patience to figure it out. But some like mine, are able to. My kid at age 3 could play "mario" type games except the object could be to pick things up in a certain order. She can play the Wii darts game. There are games that uses a pointer so that promotes hand dexterity and writing skills. There is a whole host of educational games I believe to be very good IF the kid is able to sit down and play it. If they can't, don't let them play it as the article states. They are probably not ready and could harm them is some way.

My two year olf niece (2, Funny)

MacarooMac (1222684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170716)

partitioned my c: drive and installed Kubuntu whilst I was outside cleaning the car. She was playing Portal when I left her - I swear it was under twenty minutes and I was watching her through the window the hole time!

Re:My two year olf niece (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170986)

I think you were just looking at the other side of the portal, looking at a different window entirely. She's even more clever than you know.

Just keep her away from the cake. Between the sugar and the disappointment to find out about the lie, it'll be a bad experience.

Re:My two year olf niece (1)

MacarooMac (1222684) | more than 6 years ago | (#22171060)

Sound advice. She's already persuaded my sister to let her get the Companion Cube tattoo for her birthday, though. I can't see the little f***er backing down on that one now.

Reading books ?!?! (0)

unity100 (970058) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170730)

Writers of the 17th-19th century would give an arm and a leg to be able to use a medium like digitized media, cds, games audiovisuals and whatnot. and here we are, in goddamn 21st century, with people who are doing over-late book elitism.

Better Question (1)

imyy4u1 (1222436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170736)

When are people "too old" to play video games? :-D I am guessing the resounding Slashdot answer will be NEVER!

Depends on what the game teaches (5, Insightful)

timster (32400) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170742)

A skills-based game, like Super Mario Bros. as a classic example, teaches the meaning of success and failure (something schools increasingly don't do). If you are good enough, you will win; otherwise, you fail. But everyone fails at first, over and over again; these games teach that if you want to be good at something, you have to suffer through being bad at it for a while, but you will eventually improve.

Games like the traditional JRPG or most MMORPGs probably shouldn't be played by children, as they teach that the way to succeed is not to improve your own skills, but to put in a lot of time leveling up. This perspective will be useless in the real world unless they get one of the few seniority-based union jobs.

This sort of philosophical distinction is seldom appreciated in discussions of children and video games, being drowned out by a debate centered on violence, but I think that in a long-term sense it's a much more important consideration.

Doom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22170744)

I played Doom almost daily on a 486 when I was six, and I'm not "scarred for life" as the politically-correct world would like to think. There was never a need to call DSS on my parents, and I don't see visions of demons lurking in the shadows.

Keep it in perspective: if you buy into this new concept that violence in video games cause children to commit violent acts, your kids, being raised in the same environment, probably will as well.

It all depends... (2, Informative)

Pollux (102520) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170768)

It all depends on how much cognitive development you want to provide for your child.

I contend that video games don't harm cognitive development, but they (for the most part) don't help it either. Books, on the other hand, do. It's not so much on what's the appropriate time, but rather how much time is appropriate. I started playing video games at the age of seven, but my hours were heavily regulated by my mom, who (like the librarian she was) made sure that I was reading my quota of books for the week and getting my schoolwork done. On the other hand, if you're letting a seven-year-old frag away for five hours a day, then I'd really start getting concerned.

For those who disagree with my statement that video games do not help cognitive development, they don't. Cognitive science research indicates that students develop with "experience," experience being anything that a child experiences, from eating a meal to smelling something yucky to hitting a baseball to getting hit by a snowball to climbing a kitchen cabinet to get to the cookie jar that mom set down on top. Then, as a child learns words, they match words to experiences. If a child limits what they do every day to watching TV and playing video games, they don't get much opportunity to learn by doing. And for a child, tactile learning and feedback plays a crucial role in cognitive development.

Confessions of a gamer geek (1)

armada (553343) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170798)

First off, I'm a 35 year old hard core gamer in ever sence of the word. This concept is very important to me not only because of my love of gaming but also because my wife and I have decided to have kids. I have thought about this point myself many many times in refference to other kids and now that I have the unique focus of applying it to mine I can honestly tell you that I am leaning toward later in life than I had originally thought. Although video games are a big part of my life and one of my main hobbies I also race motocross and roadracing. Have been an accomplished windsurfing competitor. Have engaged in yacht racing. I have a passion for the outdoors and travel as well as a fascination with making my own coffe (all the way from plantation through importation to cupping). In saying all these things i'm not filling out a dating profile but rather trying to make the point that my interests and passions run the gambit. Personally I think that had I been exposed to video games earlier in my life I would not have been involved in all the experiences that created such varied and forming interests througt my early life. I would not have been into riding bikes, climbing trees, exploring caves, creating imaginative games of my own and with my friends, reading, etc, if I had been alowed to lock myself in my room playing video games or waching television for that matter (we were only allowed to wach with my parents in their room). Therefore, I can offer the fact that I, I dyed in the wool uber gamer geek, will be limmiting my kid's television viewing and video game playing during his youth. I will not howerver base it on how many times he has gone around the sun but will rather apply observation and allow him access based on his involvement with other interests.

My experience (1)

qqqlo (1191709) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170822)

One of my earliest memories is of playing many, many classic Atari games - Space Invaders, Defender, Centipede, etc. - on my parents' bed at the age of 2. I can't see any way that it hurt me. My brother and I often used the on-screen action to make up elaborate stories, especially when there seemed to be little "plot." Some of my fondest memories from elementary school surround playing MECC games on the crappy Apple's we had. And it was college before I learned anything new about chemistry after a computer game my uncle gave me when I was 9 or so. I'd say that it depends on the parents exercising their judgment about what is right for the child. Not that parents commonly do this anymore, unfortunately.

Make the right comparison (1)

AmeerCB (1222468) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170824)

Honestly, I haven't really explored video games thoroughly, and I'm sure there are video games that fit more the bill of something that I'd be interested in, but I'm kind of hard-pressed to find a game that's like reading a book or something like that.


I hear this argument all the time and it drives me crazy. This assumes that videogame time will always replace reading time. What if your kid is playing videogames instead of, say, watching "edutainment?" I'm a 25-year-old with an 11-year-old brother. When I was 20 and he was much younger, I let him watch/play video games with me (I DID excercise discretion when determining WHICH games he could watch/play). As a result, he now chooses to play videogames over television most of the time. This is seperate from the time he spends reading. Depending on your opinion, a child can get a LOT more benefit out of playing Rock Band than he can watching Pokemon.

When they are old enough, you will know... (1)

Brew Bird (59050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170832)

My 5 year old has enjoyed playing video games with her dad for the last year or so. She loves throwing curve balls and change ups at me in wii baseball, and is wicked at wii tennis (bowling bores her, as does golf) About 3 months ago, we were playing a kart racing sim (she steers, I work the gas), when I had to get up for something. I was ASTONISHED to come back and see her playing on her own, after having relocated the pedals to where she could hit them with her one foot, while standing up, and steering with the table mounted steering wheel! Not only that, but she actually managed to stay on the track without bouncing from wall to wall. I watched her quietly for about 3 minutes before I asked in my booming daddy voice 'What are you doing!' The look on her face was worth the wait... She cant pass the CPU yet, but she does enjoy just driving in practice mode by herself.

A Tale of Two Kiddies (4, Interesting)

Xian97 (714198) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170848)

I have two children. One played mostly educational games such as the Jumpstart and Reader Rabbit series from an early age, even pre-kindergarten. The other showed no interest in games and preferred to play with traditional toys. The one that played games is in the top 10% of their age group for reading and reading comprehension, where the one that did not play games is an average reader. Both grew up in the same environment with lots of children's books to read and have had bedtime stories read to them since birth. They even had the same school teachers, yet one surpasses the other. I am pretty sure the educational software had a large part in assisting a beginning reader and giving them a solid foundation to build on.

Pokemon (1)

Kludge (13653) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170902)

My son started playing Pokemon when he was 3. By the time he was 5 he could read all of it and follow the story without my help.

Of course, this happened because when he played it, I played it with him, and I asked him to read words where he could.

Games are what kids love. And they are great tools if you can get games that require thought or reading like Pokemon.

Now he is older and I'm teaching him to make his own video games with Blender. Fun for me too!

Navigating 3D (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170928)

My daughter has preferred to watch me play games (and kibbitz) over actually playing on her own. She's taking the reins more and more, though, and I'm not trying to dictate what is better... when it comes to learning, I feel that what she finds fun is better for her.

When my kid was 5, I started letting her watch AND try navigating in 3D games like Ty the Tiger. She understood what she was watching but wasn't able to navigate with confidence. "Can you get me to the bridge again?"

When she was 7, she liked the first island of Zelda: Windwaker and could free-play that for half an hour and have fun. For the longest time she had absolutely no ambition to try the first "scary" area herself, even the really cartoony goofy villains you have there.

She's 8 now, and can navigate Mario Galaxy with confidence, is trying Lego Star Wars games alone, and even finds some shortcuts or features I had missed. I'm impressed with the navigation controls (and usually the camera features) on modern 3D games, they just get better and better.

I know there are kids a LOT younger than her who are playing much more intricately visual and spatial games. Great. She was also reading the text of Final Fantasy II (US) when she was 4, so I have no worry that she's exactly where she should be in her own development curve. Every kid is different.

With apologies to Charlton Heston... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22170944)

They can play video games when they pry the controller from my cold, dead hands...

Depends on the kids and parents (1)

InlawBiker (1124825) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170956)

Obviously, a good parent will take care not to let very young kids become immersed in video games - especially violent ones. Kids are extremely impressionable at this age. Letting them play games can be fine, and it's also a good exercise in teaching them restraint and keeping their lives balanced. They started with Flash Noggin games at a young age, and the 5yo plays his portable Leapster. I don't think he's even aware that the games are educational. Diego and Dora counting games are good too. We screen each game and monitor their time on them. No shooting games are allowed. We recently let them play Pac Man and help with some non-violent adventure games. I enjoy games and I see no reason they shouldn't enjoy them too. It just takes some common sense.

Television?! (2, Insightful)

morari (1080535) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170970)

What's the right age for a kid to start playing games? Do you see games as more or less acceptable than traditional kid pastimes like TV or reading? Does it matter if the parents are gaming-savvy?
I sure as heck find them a lot more acceptable than TV! Never would I have considered that a "traditional kid pastime".

Old Enough? (1)

j_kenpo (571930) | more than 6 years ago | (#22170980)

If you refer to modern games, there are games that I don't think I'm old enough for :)

That being said, there are tons of "educational" and brain stimulating games out there. Reading Rabbit, Brain Age, that stupid talking fish, that are great games for kids. The problem with the modern gaming era is that there aren't really any games that break from the first person shooter or RTS to be suitable for kids. Its not like when we were kids and there were games like Kings Quest (even the VGA remake) that were like interactive story books. Not that these games went away, and maybe I am a little removed from the current crop of kids games, but these were games that influenced me as a child, along with the 2d side scrollers of the NES. Although the interactive nature of the games on the Wii provide a great opportunity to improve not only puzzle solving elements, but hand eye coordination.

Of course, this wouldn't even be an issue if parents took time out of their "busy" schedule to maybe spend some time with their kids, get to know them a little, and guage for themselves which games their kids can handle both on a content level and a difficulty level. Who knows, maybe parents might even actually start playing them with the kids and spend some quality time with them.

I have some insight from the other side-ish (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22171006)

I do NOT watch television, and despise broadcast television. It is difficult for me at times when I have to explain to people things like: No, I've not seen that beer commercial, and no, I don't know what a soup nazi is, who is Kramer?

You can hide your kids from games all you want, but if all their friends are playing them, you are effectively isolating them from the social circles they should be able to take part in.

I have to try to learn stuff about television happenings over the weekend so I don't look too stupid on Monday in the break room. If you kid has to pretend he knows what everyone is talking about, it's an ostracizing effect.

Technically, when they are old enough that you trust them to stay over at a friends house, they are old enough for games unless you are going to ensure that your kid's friend's parents are going to prohibit game playing while your kid stays with them.

Don't let them start too early ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22171016)

I have two kids. A 16 year old girl and a 13 year old boy. The girl was never that interested in games although she had a phase where spent a lot of time online in sites like Orisinal. She spends her time getting A pluses in school, playing in the school jazz band, singing in the choir, performing in the musical production, hanging with a small group of good friends, learning to drive standard and generally having a good life. She starts next term of Grade XI with math, physics and chemistry (I'm envious!) and is talking about med school (she has a young female family doctor who is quite inspiring I think).

The 13 year old boy also does well in school but only because the standards are sooo low in middle school. He's much more interested in spending all of his time online or on the Wii though that's mostly lost its initial excitement (we've had it for almost one year). He started playing computer games at about five years old with simple things (Commander Keen rules!). We bought a game cube when he was nine or ten and you know about the Wii. Until recently he always had limits on TV and game time. He plays in a soccer league as well and just started an early morning paper route. His latest thing is painting Warhammer models (now that's a business isn't it?) though he's not interested in playing (the nerds he sees at the store are a little to closed to the world even for him). Anyway we didn't (don't) allow twitch and splat, first person shooter games (Does Metroid count? It's pretty recent in our house). I think he's getting along reasonably well considering.

So those are my credentials. When kids are little (less than four or five) you should avoid TV and video games -- they are too addictive and they need human interaction and reality to set some objective standards for their universe. After that everything in moderation. Limits are good as setting them makes you a parent. You thought it was actually reproducing that made a parent didn't you? When they are old enough they'll do the right things on their own (cross your fingers).

Santa brought me an Atari 2600 when I was 5... (1)

wikthemighty (524325) | more than 6 years ago | (#22171022)

...and I seem to have made it OK in life.

For the longest time we only had Combat, Maze Craze and Space Invaders.

Combat was great, Maze Craze was my favorite (my dad hated it though) and I later found out that "Santa" had been up playing Space Invaders every night for several weeks before Christmas. ;)

From there on I got games at a pretty slow trickle, which gave me the chance to really play the hell out of each game before moving onto another, which was actually really good. I'm sure my reading and troubleshooting skills went up because nobody told me how to play these things, I just got the manual and the game and dove into them.

Of course these weren't the most complex games in the world, but many of them weren't just arcade-twitchers, like Haunted House [atariage.com] of which I have a great memory of my mom correcting my pronunciation of the word "urn" (the game has you retrieving three pieces of a "Magic Urn" and escaping) where not knowing any better I had been sounding it out more like "urine". :D

I still love to play video games, and fully intend to introduce my kids (if/when I have them) the same way, and see how they do. There are still many playable 2600 games (and even new ones! [atariage.com]) if the graphics and sound don't put you off. (The first thing I hooked up to my new 36" Wega flatscreen when I got it was the 2600...)

What I haven't seen anyone mention yet... (2, Insightful)

StargateSteve (1054492) | more than 6 years ago | (#22171026)

What about LEGOS!? Seriously, they have a track record of several decades of non-damaging, brain-challenging, mind-engaging entertainment, and have been responsible for the last ~75 years of engineers. On that note, you might want to keep your kids away from them, or else the /. boards will be flooded in 15 years. Who knows what logical thinking and problem solving will do to today's society?

video games are like french fries (2, Insightful)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 6 years ago | (#22171028)

They're an entertaining diversion that, while not inherently destructive, can be damaging when eaten to excess or in place of other foods. I'm giving games the benefit of the doubt and assuming we're talking about age-appropriate titles and not GTA. Some games have puzzles, but it's nothing compared to, say, playing a strategy board game, doing a crossword puzzle, playing chess, etc. And games do little to enhance verbal ability, unlike reading. If you want to develop fine motor skills, why not take up billiards, foosball, table tennis, golf, etc.

Just like eating one serving of fries isn't going to kill you, neither will playing a moderate amount of games rot a kid's brain. But if he eats fries five times a day and consequently skips the vegetables and fruit...there will be consequences. Also, just like fries (and other unhealthy foods) games can be quite addictive.

18, as long as he's not living in my house. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22171052)

Hate to disagree with the mass opinion on this one, but I know too many kids^H^H^H^Hpeople (adults too) who are in my oh so humble opinion chronically obsessed with playing video games.

I visit them and rather than playing host, they keep playing their game and tell me there is beer in the fridge.

Their children talk (when they talk, which is rare) about nothing but video games.

I really don't see much positive aspects to the games. OK, maybe it has some benefit for hand-eye coordination (at least insofar as it's the fingertips coordinating with what happens on a monitor). But there are far more important things to develop in a young mind than hand-eye coordination. Things like social skills, and physical fitness.

I don't care how much you enjoy technology and science. It doesn't mean you have to spend your entire life couped up in a little room with a machine.

I would seriously rather my kids watch porn than play video games. At least with porn there's something to learn about anatomy.

Real issue: when are kids a "target group" (2, Insightful)

SplatMan_DK (1035528) | more than 6 years ago | (#22171058)

Parents holding their kids back from videogames probably have all the best intentions in mind - as they should, since kids are in no position to do so by themselves. The constant rabble about Japanese teenagers dying at the local internet café after playing WOW 36 hours straight, or kids steeling cars after playing GTA is all the reason most parents need to be sceptic about computergames.

The lack of games actually targeted towards 2-7 year old kids is a much bigger problem IMHO.

I am a 34 year old gamer, and I have a 2½ year old daughter. I have tried on countless occasions to teach her how to play games (on our PC, Mac, Xbox PS2, DS) but most of the games are either too abstract or too advanced for her. Keep in mind that something as simple as "shooting" is a rather advanced concept for a 2-year old girl, and that "death" or "number of lives" can be a hard thing to teach a kid that age.

The real question is not "when are kids old enough to play videogames" but rather: "when are they old enough to become a target group" in the videogame industry,

Today's games are ill suited for very small kids - not because games in general are bad for kids - but simply because the lack of demand for such videogames has resulted in the absolute absence of suitable games for kids of that age!

- Jesper

(And BTW: suggestions on good games for a 2½ year old girl are welcome...)

I've never understood these kinds of questions. (1)

drcagn (715012) | more than 6 years ago | (#22171066)

I've never understood why people ask the question "when is my child mature enough for ?"

Surely the maturity to understand something comes with exposure to it? Why not expose your kids to things early on, and with parental help and explanation, make sure they understand?

Why is it that people don't deem their children 'mature enough' to start understanding sex until they're in their early teens/tweens? I heard about sex and knew exactly what it was, along with all the crude humor and slang, long before that age through the world around me, the media, and the bad kids at school. Surely you'd want to talk to your kids and give them a healthy understanding of sex long before they hear it from someone else you don't trust?

Surely you'd want your kids to play video games and understand them before they get invited to a friend's house one day to play GTA for the first time when they're actually old enough to pick up a gun and go shoot someone before they get home?
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