Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: My husband and my father are both video gamers. A new version of their favorite game just came out. It is rated M-Mature by the Entertainment Software Rating Board. The men believe it's perfectly acceptable for our 6- and 4-year-old boys to watch and play this game. I equate an M rating to watching an R-rated movie and am insistent that the boys cannot watch or play this game. They are arguing that the kids have played previous versions, also rated M (unbeknownst to me), therefore, no harm is being done. I am being accused of overreacting. The kids also are angry at me for pulling the plug. Should I allow "limited" playing?Unplugged Mom
DEAR UNPLUGGED: Did your husband and your father start their recreational lives as very young children playing violent video games intended for adults? I'm going to guess not.
I presume that when they were children these older men exercised their imaginations and bodies the old-fashioned way -- out in the backyard. And don't they want the same for these kids? I completely agree with you. Your children are way too young to play (or watch others play) these games. It would be great if your kids had a dad and granddad who cared enough about them to get off the couch and take them outside to engage in play that is truly interactive.
The number of letters I receive from parents of teens, anguished over the hours, money and effort spent on video gaming would persuade any parent to delay this activity -- or at least offer younger children something in the realm of appropriate.
These two grown men basically co-opting the kiddies to do battle with you is also an example of adolescent gamesmanship. The kids should be left entirely out of this while the adults hash things out.
For more information on the Entertainment Software Rating Board's rating system (including very helpful tips on how families can discuss this important issue), check ESRB.org.