A reality check and video war games

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I was in a library recently checking emails and the adjoining room was buzzing with kids playing video war games. I don’t know the specific game, but a soldier with a machine gun was running through bunkers looking to gun down the enemy. I heard excited yelling about getting and counting kills and how awesome it was.

I understand that there are other games that are not so violent. This is not an anti video game statement. It is a real concern for “playing” at something so deadly and serious. What is this teaching our next generation about the reality of war? I know some veterans (including my husband) who experienced physical and mental trauma when serving in the military. I am concerned for our children becoming desensitized to lives harmed and lost in wars.

As I researched gamer kids, a news article from Aug. 8, 201,4 from The Local (news@thelocal.se) caught my attention. A Swedish dad, a journalist and teacher, took his two boys, ages 10 and 11, on a trip to Israel and Palestine. Why? The boys were presented with a deal — visit cities impacted by war, and then they would be free to choose the video games they wanted to play after returning home.

The boys’ parents were concerned after hearing his boys describe the guns and missions from “Call of Duty”. He had spent time himself as a journalist in the Middle East witnessing the realities of war.

The family visited a refugee camp in Jerusalem, a children’s medical clinic, and toured other non-combat areas in the Middle East. They interviewed families, soldiers and children affected by war. After returning home, the boys decided not to play “Call of Duty” and said they would like to visit these countries again.

Of course there were pro and con reactions to the Swedish dad’s opinions and actions. He ends the article by stating that in Sweden and Europe people have wealth, rights and social services (that sounds familiar) and we have the responsibility to educate and supervise our children about playing video games.

I will conclude by commenting that few parents would take such drastic steps to make a point. But as parents or mentors we can give our kids attention and information to help them make decisions with wisdom and compassion. Awesome!

RIVER and MICHAEL JACOBSON

Clark Fork

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