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DAILY MANIFESTO

How To Tell Your Kids No When They Want M-Rated Games Like GTA V

Posted on Tuesday, September 24 @ 11:00:00 Eastern by


Just do it.

That's my advice to you, parents. If you're a mom or dad and you've got a child who is just dying to play that hot, new violence simulator known as Grand Theft Auto V, it's time to channel your inner 90s marketing campaign, the one that pushes you through to the end of your spin class, and tell them "No". It's time to consider how you were brought up and what made you into the person you are today.

But first, a disclaimer!

I'm not a parent. Raising kids is not my job, but I was a kid once, deeply entranced by video games and the allure of virtual adult hood despite raging adolescence coursing through my veins. I was once told no. In fact, I was repeatedly told no and I still turned out OK for it. More importantly I don't hate my parents for it either. That's the message here. It's easier to coast through life without ever giving your son or daughter something to be upset about. Saying yes is easier, right? Saying yes makes the screaming and crying go away right?

WRONG. It doesn't make any of that go away. You will never be able to shield your child from all the terrible things in life. You will never protect them from their first crush, the one that will inevitably end in heartbreak. You will never be able to keep them from making mistakes… in fact some mistakes they need to make, but that's not the point here. The point is that disappointing your children gets harder the longer you refuse to do it, especially when it comes to menially trivial things like "mom didn't buy me that video game."

If you're mindlessly pleasing your children, it probably means you have very little time on your hands, so here are a few more do's and don'ts so we don't abuse what little you've allocated to GameRevolution:

  • DO tell them No as often as possible. Get them used to hearing it so they accept it more readily after you've said Yes to a few things.
  • DON'T tacitly endorse a child's bad behavior by giving in. If you say no, and they start screaming and kicking or acting out, saying yes will reinforce that this type of behavior is the way to get you to say yes. And this is the opposite of what you want.
  • DO rationalize with them by using the ratings system against them. Kids and teens are not stupid. They know exactly what's going on in Grand Theft Auto or any other M-rated game. Ask them if they think butchering an entire population of people is OK or if they think they'll get the keys to your car on the weekend when they've been smashing into every pedestrian on Grand Theft Auto's virtual sidewalk.
  • DO offer your kid options. If you really don't want them playing an M-rated game, give them something you can be more supportive of instead. Maybe they've been wanting a guitar. Sure it'll be noisy and it might get them into an entirely different set of problems, but the public school system sure as hell isn't going to give them music as a way out of other societal issues.
  • DO talk to them about what Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty say about our society. Ask them if they think shooting people is OK or if they would want to meet the characters they play as in the game. Even seemingly stupid questions like "would you ever want to shoot someone?" can bring about wisdom and genuine thought from your kid. Would they be scared to deal with Trevor? Would they want to experience the horrifying "No Russian" airport terminal massacre level from Call of Duty first-hand?
  • DON'T give in right away. Start from No, then say Yes after you've had some time to think about it. That is if you've come to the conclusion your child can handle it. 
  • DON'T say Yes and then say No later. That hurts way more than a No up front followed by Yes later. Where a yes-then-no situation makes the child feel lied to, a no-then-yes situation will be cause for celebration.
  • DO embarrass them as a last resort. This one seems cold, but I have never behaved better than when I was conscious of society around me. If you get to GameStop and they've somehow traded the copy of Madden Football they-were-going-to-buy with the copy of Grand Theft Auto they-really-wanted-all-along, tell them you said no previously. Then when they start the tantrum or they start giving you the cold shoulder, let them know you're ready to walk. Follow that up with actually walking out the door. No teenager can withstand the embarrassment you can dish out in front of the 20-somethings behind the counter.
  • DO play the first hour or two of an M-rated game you've bought with your kid. Sit down on the couch or follow them to their room and watch them play. Then decide for yourself if you're OK with them continuing when you're gone. Decide if you'd rather they only play in the living room where you can subject yourself to all the horrible things they find so entertaining.
  • DO be involved in your what your child finds entertaining in general. Not just with video games, but in movies, TV, and even books. Your child is probably exposed to a lot more sex, drugs, and violence than you think. Being involved in your child's life is the very best way to decide if they are ready for such mature themes.

Being told "No" didn't stop me from playing M-rated games. I racked up hundreds of hours at a friend's house and in the end it helped me to socialize and keep me from getting too sucked into the game. Keeping your kids out of M-rated games will prove as impossible as it was for your parents to keep you from seeing R-rated movies or drinking in high school. Think about all the terrible things you did as a child, as a teenager, and now consider the society we live in. You won't be able to keep your children from disappointment and you won't be able to keep them from the things they really want to do, but at least you could create an environment where they're not only responsible for their actions, but one where you're aware of them and what's going on in their lives at the same time.

Tell your kids "No". The worst thing that can happen is they move out at 18 and you get a room in your house back.

Related Games:   Grand Theft Auto V
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