Monday, January 9, 2012

Boys want to be the Hero

My oldest son turns 10 today and I can already picture him driving his first beat up truck, earning his first pay check and towering over me with strength to give his old Mom a hug!

There's something special about my man. He's always been a great kid, never been afraid to hug his mom, he has the sweetest freckles and the nicest smile. He can out run a Gazelle and has defeated every villain known to man.

He's been fighting battles since he was two. I used to hear him when he was really young, 3 or 4 years old sitting on the toilet with two plies of toilet paper, one evil ply one good ply. "Arggg..." I will defeat just try!"

Inside every boy is a desire to be a hero, to save the day, to conquer. I think it's so important to allow our boys to express this.

Video games feed this desire faster and fuller than any medium I know but there is such a risk in enduldging too much.

Here are some studies done on such.
Part of the increase in aggressive behavior is linked to the amount of time children are allowed to play video games. In one study by Walsh (2000), a majority of teens admitted that their parents do not impose a time limit on the number of hours they are allowed to play video games. The study also showed that most parents are unaware of the content or the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating (see below) of the video games their children play.

In another study conducted by Gentile, Lynch, Linder & Walsh (2004, p.6) "adolescent girls played video games for an average of 5 hours a week, whereas boys averaged 13 hours a week". The authors also stated that teens who play violent video games for extended periods of time:
  • Tend to be more aggressive
  • Are more prone to confrontation with their teachers
  • May engage in fights with their peers
  • See a decline in school achievements. (Gentile et al, 2004).
I'm like most parents, I think, who feel that their son isn't going to go out and shoot up the neighborhood because of playing too much Halo on a weekend. However, I do try to teach my son what being a hero in the 'real world' looks like.

I try to talk to him about sticking up for the underdog. If he sees any kids picked on at school it's his responsibility to either comfort or seek help on that kids behalf.

If a woman in the cashier line up has her hands full with kids it's his responsibility as a hero to take her cart back for her.

If a school mate drops their stack of books and papers, it's his duty as a hero to run to their aid and help clean it up.

This is what a real hero looks like.

I've seen my son run to open a door for the elderly, he's seen me frazzled and said, "Mom let me clean it up for you.", I've seen him go out of his way to include a friend and I think. "My son is a true Canadian Hero!"

Happy Birthday Buddy!

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