I have missed opportunities in my life that could’ve been so much better”…”It is kinda tough for me to think of my actions in games versus in real life.
– 15 year old xbox player
The above quote is from my fifteen year old stepson. I told him I was writing about Xbox and I asked for his insight. He’s the first, and last, to admit he’s addicted to video games. He’s the first to admit it when he’s feeling down on himself such as after he’s failed a class because he “forgot” to do his homework or when he doesn’t make the sport’s team because he hasn’t played sports in ten years. But, he’s also the last to admit he’s addicted because…he’s ADDICTED! Addicts can always find the negatives when they’re feeling down, but push the positives when they need a fix. It sounds like I’m talking about a crack addiction here, but in my house, the Xbox addiction is just as serious and just as severe.
You’re probably thinking, “Well, who buys the games?” or “He can only play as much as you allow”, but as a step-mom, I am not the one who buys him things that fuel his addiction. Every Christmas and birthday when I’m asked what he should get, I’ve NEVER advocated for video game consoles or games. I’ve done my part to avoid the predicament we’re in now, but nonetheless, we are in this predicament.
Here are 10 Reasons Why I’m Anti-Xbox
1) Xbox has created a false sense of reality.
When I asked him about this he said, “It has helped by increasing my awareness in situations and my decision making.” The problem with this is that the only place he makes decisions is in video games. In real life, 9 times out of 10 he makes the wrong decision. He admitted that sometimes he forgets there’s not a “restart” button in real life when he makes a mistake or a poor decision. He has struggles with awareness of reality and real world consequences because he hasn’t experienced them.
2) Xbox negatively impacts health.
His mother is 6’1, his dad is 6’5 so he has the genes to be tall, strong, and athletic; however, he’s spent his adolescence and half of his teen years playing video games, therefore negatively impacting his weight, strength, agility, and stamina. He’ll often forget to eat, drink water, shower, or brush his teeth and he stays in the same position on the floor for hours upon hours while he’s playing.
3) Xbox affects grades.
In elementary he was identified as one of THE smartest kids in the district. His teachers think he’s gifted. He was reading at a fifth grade level in first or second grade. But, he’s constantly struggling in school. Why? He claims not to have any homework so he can play video games. At fifteen, how do you know it’s not true until you get the email that he has zeros? It’s not like in elementary or pre-k where they have one teacher, an assignment book, and a zillion reminders about work. At this point, it’s on him. He lacks the focus and the drive to get A’s, but he definitely has the potential.
4) Xbox affects creativity and imagination.
I remember when he was seven years old and we watched the movie “Bedtime Stories” with Adam Sandler. The little boy in the film is very curious and always getting into mischief and boyhood trouble. My stepson leaned over and said, “I wish I went on adventures,” and in my head I thought, “Me too”. But, the video game exposure and addiction started so young that he literally could not think of any way to fill his time if he wasn’t on a game. There were never robots made of boxes, puppet shows, skits, coloring on the walls, or fantasy play games outdoors. It’s always been-xbox. We always went places when he was with us to entertain him because if we were at home we knew that was where he’d be…in front of the xbox.
5) Xbox creates a false sense of self.
He hears about, and reads about, youtube phenomenons who play video games for a living and make millions of dollars filming themselves playing games. He thinks this is a possibility for himself. Why get good grades and try to get into a good college when you can make millions playing video games in your underwear all day?
“It can help out by promoting teamwork and leadership in games where you have a squad”… is the xbox where you want your child “learning” about teamwork, leadership, and professionalism?
6) Xbox friends are fake.
He’s never been one to have a lot of friends and part of that is because he’d rather play video games than socialize, but another part of that is he is naturally an introvert. Being an introvert is perfectly okay, but, when you use video games as an escape from socializing and dealing with real world people…there’s the problem. When I asked him about friends a few years ago he listed names I thought sounded odd. Here’s the shocker…they were screen names! They were “friends” he plays xbox live with around the world! He’d never met these people, interacted with them, or knew anything real about them. They were fellow gamers, therefore they were “friends”.
7) Xbox can cause ADHD.
Numerous articles have linked video game usage and TV watching early in life to a rise in ADD and ADHD. I’ve seen the affects firsthand. The fast paced images, bright colors, loud sounds…it’s no wonder school is “boring” at a REALLY early age. It’s no wonder kids struggle to get through an entire book.
8) Xbox increases violent and aggressive behavior.
I’m not even going to tell you the things I’ve seen or heard while he plays these games or while other children play these games, but I will tell you that I believe in my heart that they are contributing to the demise of our country and our society. Gang violence, murder, throat slitting, curse words, rape, drugs, theft…this is a game?! Kids playing these video games for “fun” only decreases their shock factor, ultimately dulling their conscience. I want my kids to know right from wrong and have their stomachs drop when they see, or hear, something foul and hurtful. I don’t want them to be accustomed to violence and cruelty so much that it doesn’t strike them as sick when it’s real life.
I hear you, “Just don’t buy them the violent games”, right? If you’re thinking this you either don’t have a teen or you don’t know what they’re up to. The technology is so advanced now! They can “gift” each other games, download violent extras, trade games…stuff I’ve never even heard of.
9) Xbox robs them of childhood (life lessons).
Kids should be playing outside, building things, running, creating, learning, laughing, wrestling, singing, dancing, imagining, and exploring. Children learn by experiencing and when all they’re experiencing is an alternative world they’re not really learning anything other than what someone else has created in the make believe world they’re playing in.
10) Xbox prevents them from engaging in life.
The only way we can get him to do anything with us is by force. “Get up, turn the games off and get dressed. You are going with us and you WILL have fun!” Trust me, forcing a kid to get up and come enjoy the day with you is about as fun as it sounds. This puts him in a bad mood and then us in a bad mood.
To tell you the truth, he does regret his time spent on video games. He says he wants something different for the kids his father and I have one day and he thinks it was “inappropriate” that he got to play them when he was so young. So, if you’re a parent of a young child and you’re contemplating whether or not to get video games…DON’T! They can play at a friend’s house, play at birthday parties, play at the neighbor’s, but do NOT bring them into your house because once you do, it’s hard to stop.