My son thinks everything is a next-gen video game
I'm almost 30. I've been married since 2007 and I have two sons, a four-year-old and one-year-old. While gaming was just taking off in the 80s, our children now are being raised with video games as a mainstream activity – one that is being celebrated in pop culture. My four-year-old, Colton, like many other children, is already into video games. It started with iPhones. It's like kids are born knowing how to use them.
The convenience of mobile gaming, combined with my profession, has subjected Colton to a lot of video games. Now, I'd be irresponsible if I just let him sit there and play all day. Colton gets to play games in short periods of time, most of the time with me, but sometimes on his own. His favorite games are on the 3DS and Wii U, as that's what he plays mostly. Mario Kart 7, Super Mario 3D World, LEGO Marvel Super Heroes, LEGO Batman 2, Cars 2, Minecraft, Skylanders SWAP Force and Disney Infinity are the games he plays regularly.
I noticed something funny, though; Colton can't always tell the difference between a video game on TV and real people on TV, and it started with the PlayStation 4.
Up until the PlayStation 4 release, the only games he's seen are ones that are obviously games. None of them have realistic graphics, even though they're visually impressive. With the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, games have more realistic visuals and tons of particles. While he's played a little Resogun and Knack with me, he didn't mistake anything in those as real. Enter Madden NFL 25.
I've played Madden the most on my PlayStation 4, and Colton always asked me what I'm playing. He asked what team I am and then which team is the good guys and which is the bad guys. It's adorable. He sits there and watches me play, asking some questions and cheering when I say a good play just happened. You should know that I'm a Denver Broncos fan, so I've been watching every week religiously. Colton, showing an interest in football and sports, would ask me during an NFL game what game I'm playing. I'd have to explain to him that I'm not playing a game, that this is TV – real people.
To his little four-year-old eyes, it's hard to tell the difference between a football video game and an actual football game. While adults, like myself, might look at Madden NFL 25 and think it's impressive but would never be mistaken for an actual NFL game, to kids it's the same thing. I already don't play shooters and violent games in front of Colton, and moving forward in light of this I'm going to continue to shield him from violent games. Granted, there is a level of violence from consuming a mushroom and jumping on top of Goombas' heads to kill them. Still, what about the adults that are letting their children view and absorb games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto?
I'm on the record with my opinion that video games do not cause violence or shootings. Gaming isn't to blame for mass killings and other things of that nature. I still believe this. Active and proper parenting should help children understand what they're consuming and prevent them from playing games they shouldn't. However, parents don't educate themselves on such matters, as evidenced by my time in a GameStop this past weekend when an eight-year-old convinced his mom to buy him GTA 5 because he's played past GTA titles with his older brother.
Video games are reaching a point where it's hard to tell them apart from real actors, locations and events. It's harmless with Madden, but if Colton sees me shooting someone on-screen, what's to say he'll know it isn't real? This is next-gen gaming.