August 26, 2009
In the previous post on electronic games, I wrote:
Electronic entertainment is one of the few realms in which boys can still be boys. I agree with Ron on this point. And, it’s a very important consideration.
But, it shouldn’t be that way. Virtual games, at least the obsessive and exclusive playing of them, are not a good replacement for other types of aggressive play that involve physical movement and real social interaction. The boy who plays games and only plays games is in an artificial world where he is not forced to respond to real people. In sports or idle rough-housing, there is a check on the isolating aspects of male aggression. There are real people interacting with each other and a boy is forced to react to them. That’s not the same as responding to someone in an electronic game.
In truly aggressive play, the boy’s energy is used and satisfied. He is ready to turn to things that involve a different sort of mental effort and patience. A boy can be sated by aggressive physical play. Games are addictive and a boy never realizes he has had enough until it is too late to play outside or shoot hoops. He gets easily lost in them. That explains the irritability of boys who sit for long hours at the screen and their declining performance in school.
I think games in excess are much more destructive for younger boys than for older ones. They are used by parents as a form of babysitting. Many parents rely on them almost out of necessity because of the destruction of real community in which kids can congregate outside for pick-up games and boys can engage in mischief.
My husband strongly believes that electronic games do not relieve male agression, but cause it to build. They are no more a complete outlet for healthy masculinity than watching football games on TV. He maintains that the idea that games serve a healthy function is equivalent to saying that pornography is a useful aid to male sexuality. The virtual experience replaces and perverts the thing itself.
I would like to add that I blame the over-use of electronic entertainment on women. They use electronic games as an easy form of childcare so they can go off and do their own thing. The departure of women from the home has caused the decline in normal outdoor play.