I firmly believe that video games are a very, very good thing. Video games encourage creativity, problem solving, social interaction, and introduce moral decisions (yes, even the “bad” video games like Grand Theft Auto). On the flip side, games that let a child “zone out” can act like a mental palette-cleaser and calm them down from strenuous studies.
Video games are a modern art form, and should be respected as such. My friend, Chris Melissinos even wrote a book about it and was curator of its Smithsonian Art Exhibit.
Just like so many things, video games become a problem when they interfere with other aspects of a normal life. A problem occurs when video games is all a child wants to do: they aren’t interested in school or anything else that isn’t a part of their video game world. In a case like this, video game time should be limited until a child can learn to manage their own time and make responsible choices.
That being said, our family computer has parental controls and restricts video game time; simply because it is needed to manage (read: not control) our children and teach them responsible behavior. Yes, even the arguments that come about from the “power struggle” of video game time is actually a valuable social tool that will let children debate differences and express themselves later in life.
Parental controls on a family PC can be a controversial subject. Kids absolutely don’t like it for obvious reasons. Parents have their own reasons to limit unrestricted access to the internet and PC gaming. You may feel that having parental controls is better parenting, while kids will argue that you are a hypocritical control-freak who doesn’t trust them.
Regardless of your reasons, sometimes kids and teenagers should have their computer access and video game time limited. Here’s some of the ways to do it for free.