This week I received an e-mail from Jill, who listens to WBCL in Auburn. Jill writes:
Dear Dr Bill,
We have 3 boys who are interested in some new toys that seem to glorify battles and fighting. Since they already do enough of that with each other without prompting, we’re not sure we want to encourage this behavior! But these toys are very popular at their school, and we don’t want them feel left out. What do you suggest we do?
I chuckled a bit when I read your e-mail—especially the part about your boys fighting enough without being prompted!
If you’d asked me this question 30 years ago, I probably would’ve told you that I don’t see any harm in games that involve battles or fighting. Boys are simply wired to be more aggressive and competitive, and they tend to be drawn to more action-oriented games, including those that involve combat.
However, with the advent of very realistic video games, war games have taken on a whole new twist, one that’s often dark and ugly.
My perspective is that toy miniatures and board games that involve combat won’t harm kids or encourage them to be violent. Some video games that depict combat are fine too, but many aren’t. That’s why parents should carefully evaluate any video game before they buy it.
Another important aspect is what kind of moral themes are found in the game. In other words, is it simply a “good guys vs. bad guys” conflict, or does the game encourage things like cruelty or deception?
Our children need our moral guidance as they grow—and that extends to all areas of life, including their play.
Thanks for your question, Jill!