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Is Virtual Violence an Acceptable Parenting Technique?

Is Virtual Violence an Acceptable Parenting Technique?

A story circulated last week about a father in China and his 23-year-old son who were at loggerheads over the son’s perpetual unemployment and his seeming addiction to video games. The son, as reported Kotaku East, spent nearly all of his waking hours playing first-person-shooter games against online opponents, much to his father’s chagrin. The son became so adept at killing and dominating within this virtual world, that all real life prospects of a job or personal growth soon fell away. Until one day the son started playing the game and losing to other players who seemed to be specifically targeting him for assassination. Soon, the truth became clear. Grossly unhappy with his son not finding a job, his father decided to hire players in his son’s favorite online games to hunt down and kill his son (in a virtual sense). The father’s hope was that his son would get bored of playing games if he was killed every time he logged on, and that he would start putting more effort into getting a job. Unfortunately the son figured it out (by communicating with his virtual assassins) and soon thwarted his father’s grand plan.

In a contemporary culture where technology has eclipsed real life interaction, it is unspeakably difficult for parents to provide suitable guidance for their teenagers, let alone know what they are doing. Some parents deal with these challenges with grace and respect, whereas others resort to evasive action and varying levels of manipulation and public shaming. The example above is hardly the worst. About a year ago a North Carolina father took possession of his 15-year-old daughter’s laptop computer and destroyed it with a .45 pistol – videotaping the entire act of aggression and posting it on Youtube.com. All of this because his daughter had used her Facebook account to lodge a lengthy complaint about the chores her parents asked her to do (see video here).

So in the face of technology run amok and teenagers using such technology to thwart responsibility or undermine parental authority, what sensible approach should parents take? Are highly symbolic acts of violence, like the ones mentioned above, a sensible and reasonable approach, or are they inherently too disrespectful and manipulative? What do you do to keep your teenager grounded in the real world?

Read more: ADHD, Blogs, Children, Family, Parenting at the Crossroads, Teens, Videos, , , , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

55 comments

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12:18AM PDT on Sep 13, 2013

one of the main problems is parents not taking their job seriously. I see so many parents nowadays who try to be their kids friend and not a parent , you can be both a parent and friend just set boundries!

9:48AM PDT on Jun 17, 2013

important issue

4:03PM PDT on Apr 25, 2013

Noted.

3:53PM PDT on Apr 25, 2013

Thanks Eric.

3:45PM PDT on Apr 25, 2013

and - by the way, we used to watch Bugs Bunny cartoons with those RoadRunner chase scenes, and we knew the 'violence' wasn't ACTUAL. Now we're being instructed that 'virtual violence' is the same as actual violence, WAAAAA ???

What ARE WE THINKING???

3:42PM PDT on Apr 25, 2013

Geeeeeez,
back in the '50s, problems with discipline were sooooo different~ Reading some of the comments, though, seems to indicate the basic evaluation, of parents are just trying to parent in a tech-NO-world that has lost connection with living breathing organic humans~ There aren't any instructions booklets for how to compete with technology - which has taken over the younger generations reality. In fact, earlier today, someone came by my desk and said that his teenager told him to 'post it on Facebook or it doesn't count as having ACTUALLY HAPPENED!' That's how a great % of teens believe and how they behave. A couple of weeks ago some 'messed up' teens at a party (boys) gang raped a drunk girl - and posted it all for the 'actual event' to be experienced in REALITY. (???) Her humiliation from the taunting and teasing of those images left her in despair, and she committed suicide. Pandora's Box is too too open! We need to study the consequences of 'virtual' mentality, but it has already lifted its ugly head!!!

10:52AM PDT on Apr 13, 2013

ty

12:06PM PST on Feb 28, 2013

As usual these kind of stupid articles are ripe with hypocrisy and self-righteous assholeisms. Which I believe is the sole problem of our society. This article complains of "faked" violence and public shaming when in fact the sole purpose of this article is to publicly shame these parents for trying to parent. Maybe if everyone would give parenting a try instead of getting on the internet to see and triumphantly point out others faults we would not have as many problems in the first place.

8:27AM PST on Feb 6, 2013

Parents are suppose to be good ROLE MODELS is this how YOU want to be treated?

TEACH YOUR CHILDREN

7:27PM PST on Jan 24, 2013

Lmao that is a funny idea! Honestly, his gaming device would disappear in my house if I were his parent.

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