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Raising Teens Today: Help Deciding the Proper Video Games For Their Age

This is a simple-text form (with bold as necessary) of this blog article, "Raising Teens Today: Help Deciding the Proper Video Games For Their Age." To view the original article with rich-text format, GUI, and/or images, please go to the link below:

Raising Teens Today: Help Deciding the Proper Video Games For Their Age | CurlyStache Blog

This blog article resides in the Raising Teens Today / How to Tackle Questionable Decisions / Sensitive Entertainment section. Click on each link to view related blog posts related to each section.


Screens are a HUGE part of society and our teens' daily lives, even if we wish it weren't the case. Nearly all people under the age of 20 end up in front of a screen multiple times a day, whether it's to socialize, listen to music, watch a video or a show— or even perhaps what has become one of the most popular options that encompasses socializing, entertainment, riddles, hanging out with friends, or even remaining anonymous: Video Games. In this raising teens blog article, we will cover the pros and cons of video games and how to overcome any issues you may have involving them with essential parenting dos and don'ts to ensure you get the desired results!

Types of Video Games

What could be described as a video game exactly? A video game is a form of objective or puzzle played on a screen against a computer or other players locally or online. Let's face it: we all love video games to some extent, whether it's Super Mario Brothers, Candy Crush, Madden, online Poker, Call of Duty, Soduku, or even Chess. Most games are entirely benign and fun, exactly what we think of when we say "games": a program played on a screen with an objective or puzzle experienced with others or alone. This article is not about the innocent games we've all learned to love throughout time but rather the morally unsettling ones.

Find Your Video Game Moral Compass

Every family is different with their values, and that's ok! Some families are conservative and refrain from allowing any violent or explicit influence, including some sporting games such as "Undisputed" (boxing), only allowing for adventure, puzzle, and strategic games or online board games such as the popular "Monopoly Go." On the flip side, other families do not put merit on the impact of video games and the potential influence they may have on their impressionable teens.

V.A.S.E. Chart

That said, you need to ask yourself your family's stance and how intensely you feel video games impact your tween or teen's moral outlook. It is crucial to do this because it helps set base rules for your children and allows you to remain consistent when the time comes to approve (or deny) a new video game. The good idea is to create a V.A.S.E. (Violence, Abusive, Sexual, Explicit) Video Game chart, as shown below, to help you stay on track with your family's rules and values.


LINK of example >>>

As you can see in the VASE example, the parents immediately grayed out columns that are not allowed in the house based on their beliefs, so if a video game intersected, it was instantly banned. Likewise, the parents highlighted (oranged out) one column they would allow if they felt their child/teen was ready. To ensure the parent stayed on track and reasonable with their child's request to play the five games, they researched and checked off the boxes for which the game was known, clarifying whether to allow it.

ESRB vs. "FRB"

ESRB is the corporation that rates all video games and stands for Entertainment Software Rating Board. They are the guys that stamp the big "E," "T," or "M" (or whatever!) on the games, so you know if it is age-appropriate. Their thought process and logic in rating games are sound but not concrete. ESRB knows what they are doing, but make sure you compare it to and trust the FRB.

What is the FRB? FAMILY Rating Board. Every family is unique in their background and perspectives on life. One family may find a game they rated via their FRB a 10+, whereas their neighbors deem it unacceptable until their child reaches high school— ALL WHILE the ESRB rates that same game as "M" (mature, 17+). It is all the more reason to take time, fill out a VASE chart, add additional columns or notes if necessary, and thoroughly evaluate the video games. Most of all, once you have established what type of games with what content you allow (or deny), stick to it regardless of what the ESRB or other families say because it is your family, not the ESRB or others!

Find Your Precise Umbrella

Nowadays, if you try to shield your child or teen from every game with questionable influence, there would be very little to play— because everything is open to interpretation and can become twisted. The solution is NOT to watch them play the game, and the moment something violates the condition of allowing them to have the game (i.e., swearing), you tell them they cannot play anymore.

Instead, ask yourself what is the number one subject above all others that you disapprove of and cannot tolerate under any circumstance. Have you got your answer? Good. Take that answer and let that be the first rule and primary reason for having or not having a video game. That cringe-worthy subject is your Precise Umbrella. It's a precise topic, or matter, that you cover over your home, like an umbrella, to ensure it does not get in. In other words, there is no way in hell you will allow that one topic to be on a screen in your home.

Take your VASE chart and gray that section out like nobody's business, or add it to the VASE chart if it's not there, or note it if needed- whatever it takes to make it the golden rule for video games. For example, sexual assault and sexual abuse are the Precise Umbrellas in the CurlyStache household. If a game (video game or any other material) with sexual abuse or sexual assault makes its way into the home, there will be severe consequences of biblical proportions. Therefore, if my wife or I get asked or see a new game played in our house, we know we can count on each other to vet the game for sexual assault while our children know what to expect.

What about other negativity not in the Precise Umbrella?

Need some truth? Let everything else fall by the wayside. Take one letter from the VASE chart (or a 5th letter if it's not on there) and concentrate on that letter explicitly as your Precise Umbrella. Whether it is racism, sexual abuse, violence, explicit gestures or materials, swearing, or whatever causes you the most grief and heartache, concentrate on that. All the other negativity in a video game should not make or break being able to have or play the game. The reason for this is because you are a great parent! You've already taught them your family's viewpoints, beliefs, morals, and rights from wrongs. By the time they are asking to play [insert game], chances are they already know that all four letters in VASE are wrong, illegal, or immoral in real life; you are just going to take the one topic you find the most concerning and drive it home by telling them "Not even in a video game can I allow this."

I need 2 Precise Umbrellas

As stated in the beginning, every family is different, making all families unique. Some families may feel very strongly about two letters in VASE (or an additional 5th letter) needing to be covered, whether it is because they have personal experiences with one matter or another, religion plays into it, behavioral issues, or any number of reasons. If you feel it is necessary to add a second Precise Umbrella, please do; only you know what's best for your family and teen. Nevertheless, I strongly recommend using as few Precise Umbrellas as possible to help mature them as they prepare for the real world— after all, this world can be ugly if you don't prepare for it.

Do Video Games Help or Hurt?

Lastly, the big question is: "Even though my teen wants to play video games, shouldn't they be outside like I was as a kid?" The answer is YES! That's optimal; let them get the fresh air, be social (in-person vs. virtual), play sports, and get involved with nature. Unfortunately, despite all that, screen time is still up there, so are video games good for your teen? The answer to that is also a resounding YES!

Emotional Impact

It is important to remember that even though we may disagree with some of the content in the games, it doesn't mean their brain processes that content in the way we see it. In a hypothetical game, for example, as a parent, we see their character picking up a gun, shooting another player, and getting awarded 50 points. This situation can be horrifying because it shows they were rewarded for killing someone. To flip things around, the child/teen is not thinking about using a gun and killing anybody. They are thinking objectively. They know the game's objective is to get from point A to point B with a man in the way. They are not thinking, "Oh yeah, awesome! Look at that GUN! I'm gonna pick it up, and YES! I can SHOOT somebody! I'm going to try it out now!" They know that per the game rules, the only thing that can defeat another player or man is the gun in front of them. The 50 points may seem like a reward to a concerned parent, but to a child/teen, the 50 points make it that much closer to an achievement or something they can get with the points. The result is that the gamer usually sees it as problem-solving, solving the equation instead of focusing on the objects used and what was done with it. The sad truth is, it just makes sense: Men block paths and are gatekeepers, and guns kill men, so that's what we see in video games.

Positive Gaming Impacts

Video games not only encourage problem-solving but offer an array of other valuable essentials in life. Hand and eye coordination significantly improve as your child or teen plays intensely. Along with doing two things at once and working together, their multitasking skills become exceptional the more they play. One of the best consequences of playing video games is the improved cognitive skills that the player develops.


There are many benefits to video games, whether it is Solitare or Final Fantasy XVI. It is up to you and your family to determine how beneficial each video game is based on your family's outlook and core belief system. Using the VASE chart and your Precise Umbrella, you can have a good foundation with essential parenting dos and don'ts when guiding teenagers today and video games. With this as your guide, your teens will be able to play the games they love, knowing there are certain lines they cannot cross while respecting your decisions regarding the approval of video games, knowing it's coming from an unmoving set of views.

Enjoy a free VASE chart to print!

[Link] >>>

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