Ask Amy: Is my video game rule for my young kids overreacting?

A new version of their favorite game has just been released, and I learned that it was rated M-Mature by the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Both men think it is perfectly acceptable for our 6 and 4 year old boys to watch and play this game.

I equate an M rating to the equivalent of watching an R-rated movie and insist that boys cannot watch or play this game. They argue that children have played previous versions, also rated M ( without my knowledge), so no harm is done.

I am accused of exaggerating and controlling. The kids are also mad at me for pulling the plug.

Am I overreacting? Should I allow “limited” play?

Unplugged: Did your husband and father start their recreational lives as very young children playing violent video games intended for adults?

I suppose not. I suspect that when they were kids, these older men exercised their imaginations and their bodies the old-fashioned way – in the backyard, on the ball diamond, or around the neighborhood.

Don’t they want the same for these children?

I completely agree with you. Your children are far too young to play (or watch others play) these games.

It would be great if your kids had a dad and grandpa who cared enough about them to get off the couch and take them outside for some truly interactive play. The number of letters I get from parents of teenagers and young adults (mostly men, frankly) anxious about the hours, money, and effort spent on video games would persuade any parent to put off this activity – or at least to offer young children something in the age-appropriate realm.

These adults, who essentially co-opt children to fight with you, also provide an example of adolescent play.

The kids should be left out of this entirely while the adults take care of things.

For more information about the Entertainment Software Rating Board’s rating system (including helpful tips on how families can discuss this important issue), see The site includes information on how to install parental controls on various branded game systems.

It looks like you can also use “grandparent” controls. (June 2012)

dear Amy: My husband and I are both gamers.

We’ve always had a rule that kids can’t watch or play any M-rated games.

We felt that if we let them break this rule, it would set a precedent for breaking others, like going to R-rated movies and drinking before the age of 21.

We limit our time playing these games and wait until they are asleep or close the door to the room.

The kids’ computer is in another part of the house in a high-traffic area to keep them away from sites they need to avoid.

Since breaking the rules means losing IT privileges, they are motivated to behave.

Our children are now teenagers and have been using the computer since they were 3 years old.

The kids complained that we kept them out of the social loop, but we stuck to our guns and they always found alternative games to play.

We even found several games that the whole family finds fun to play.

player: You have the courage to say “no” to something and stick with it. Good for you! (June 2012)

dear Amy: Responding to letter from ‘Unplugged Mom’, who was concerned about her young children playing M-rated video games: In my household, we say these games are ‘I’ rated, not ‘M’ rated.

I think you can guess why!

player: Actually, I can’t understand your home rating system. But the most important thing is that the adults in your household make the right choices and that you are consistent in your application.

dear Amy: As for “gaming addiction”, my mom seems addicted to games on her phone.

I don’t know how to get his attention!

upset: Ask her to accept the limits, post them on the refrigerator and remind her when she wanders off.

©2022 by Amy Dickinson distributed by Tribune Content Agency

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