Posted: 11:32 pm Monday, July 14th, 2014

What to do when summer camp breaks house rules? 

By Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

This week my 11-year-old son is attending a video game design camp through one of the local school systems in our new community. I thought it would be a nice way to keep his mind active and to help him meet some guys with similar interests. So they are working on some graphic design programs, some coding programs but then for two of the six periods they get to just play video games. And today he was allowed at camp to play two video games that I don’t allow at home — “Mortal Kombat” and “Call of Duty.”

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In general I don’t allow my kids to play “Mature”-rated games. I don’t like graphic, realistic first-person shooter games or graphic, realistic fighting games. There are some games on Steam that he plays where you are shooting others but the graphics are not good and definitely not realistic.

I was so surprised when my son told me the camp allowed them to play these games.There were much younger kids there as well. So the questions is do I say something to the camp director? Do I make a stink about why the camp has the games? Do I say I don’t want my son to play them? But then he is ostracized from the group and the whole point in going was to meet people. Or do I just release on this and not worry about it? It’s one week, and it doesn’t change my rules at home.

22 comments
April-01
April-01

The camp director exercised poor judgement in allowing these games to be played by campers this young. I would question his training, also. He is opening himself up to all kinds of problems. I teach middle school and have a better understanding of what kids really do than most. However, just because they have played a game, heard a word, or seen an image before does not mean that it must become common place for that child.

Saying that Teresa should have asked before hand is unreasonable. Before I took my 13 year old to camp, I did not ask if the camp planned to provide her with cigarettes or allow her to drive a car. Those activities are not recommended for children her age.

TobyFoote
TobyFoote

Theresa,


I'm a camp director for another technology camp, Classroom Antics in Ohio, and there are several thoughts I have when reading your post.


First, I'm surprised that the kids play video games in camp when this is a DESIGN camp (a video game design camp). In our Video Game Design camps, we don't play games that we didn't design ourselves. There is SO much to learn in designing games, I personally feel that playing video games may take away valuable time to learn the design aspects. As a parent, I would not want to see ANY game playing of video games that aren't our designed games.


Secondly, camps have a responsibility to run camp appropriately for the age groups they are serving. I would highly recommend you talk with the camp manager or camp director to voice your opinion. If this is a reputable camp, they will listen and take your concerns seriously.


Toby Foote

Classroom Antics

@ClassroomAntics 

www.classroomantics.com

Rory_Bellows
Rory_Bellows

More first world problems. If the concept that your son might hear profanity, or see over the top animation of violence, then you are doing really good. Think of the parents in third world countries, wondering how to protect their kids where the violence is real. Or wondering how they will feed their kids.

You've got it real good so stop your whining and try to inspire others about real life tragedies that we can try to make a difference.

GoodGooglySmoogly
GoodGooglySmoogly

I believe you have an obligation to let the camp director know that you don't let your child play these games and that you did not know these games would be allowed.  My 13 year old is in the Duke TIP studies class (a "college" course taken over the summer), and we were made aware that there was going to be a documentary with graphic images of war.  Society expects parents to be responsible for their child, so we need information in order to parent appropriately.  I allowed my son to watch the documentary, but that was a decision I made.  You didn't get to make that decision because you were unaware that the camp was going to allow kids to play video games that were rated above their age level.  The camp director is not responsible for your child, he/she does not even know your child, so why does he/she get to "make" that decision for your child?  Mature games are rated "mature" for a reason...and the camp director needs to know that next time he/she should inform parents.

ssidawg
ssidawg

I'm with Theresa....I wouldn't expect a camp geared toward children to be using 2 of the most violent games in the history of the gaming industry.  Just because something is popular doesn't mean it's appropriate for children.  

K's Mom
K's Mom

If your son is 11 and mature rated games are designed for 17+, I would not have asked beforehand, I would talk to the director and if they continue to allow him to play them, I would pull him out of the camp. You are the parent, you make the rules. In my opinion if they were going to let kids play Mature rated games that should have been in the literature.

RichardKPE
RichardKPE

I hate to break it to you, but your precious little one that you've tried to shelter from reality has been playing violent video games and saying the f-word since he/she was old enough to pick up the controller.  You're simply living in denial.


On a related note, it is not possible to make it out of elementary school without being exposed to pornography.  FYI, that was my theory in Nineteen Ninety friggin Two, which was before the internet made it so easy to access.


If you want to stop your kids from being exposed to naughty language and violence (South Park made a movie about this), I'm sure there are methods like buying a private island with no ability to access the internet and banishing the kid there.  Or, you can acknowledge that you live in a world with these things, and educate your kid on reality.  Or just Blame Canada.

FRMRTCHR
FRMRTCHR

@NEWNAME has it right.  This is information you should have sought prior to enrolling your son in camp.  Mentioning it after the fact does little good.  The camp directors might take it into consideration and they might not, depending on the number of complaints received.  But it seems a logical question to ask when enrolling a student this age in this type of camp.  A brief look at the camp schedule should easily have led to this question. 

AJCmomania
AJCmomania moderator

The oldest age in camp is 8th grade so not meant for high schoolers.... Never would have occurred to me to ask since is rated M... Would never in a million years think it would be allowed ....

Georgiamomof5
Georgiamomof5

I am blown away by the lack of discernment here in the responses. The rating system is in place to help ADULTS understand the appropriate age of maturity on games/movies/etc. it's a guideline, and you will find the 12 who can handle PG13 fine, as well as a 14yr who cannot. But no way would I allow my 11yr old to play M rated games (that is, games designed for ages 17+). It's not "just violence" and the images SHOULD be disturbing, but also the fact on the dialogue you can experience the f-word 17 times in the first five minutes. I worry about desensitizing our kids, and the fact that we expose them far too young to far too many adult situations. For the love of all that's good (and there are loads and loads of games not rated M) let the kids be kids! If they made an exception and allowed your 11 yr to go to game camp for upper high schoolers--that's on you. Otherwise, I think they need to be made aware this material is inappropriate for this age. As I tell my kids, once it's seen or heard you can't unsee it. But you don't need to continue to reinforce it either. My guess is the camp is unaware and councilors don't have kids yet.

AtlantaMom
AtlantaMom

I would certainly mention it to the camp director. That's pretty inexcusable in my opinion. Of course I didn't let my kids watch R rated movies in HS either.

And next time I'd ask before I enrolled my child.

Rory_Bellows
Rory_Bellows

Lighten u[ Francis.....It's a fictional game. If you REALLY think these games will cause him to shoot up a mall, then you do not grasp reality. 

BehindEnemyLines
BehindEnemyLines

Hard to realistically criticize a gaming-oriented camp for allowing the play of two of the most successful gaming franchises in the history of the industry.

NewName
NewName

You might have wanted to ask about this BEFORE the camp since you signed him up for something so subject-specific and you have rules governing this type of game. Him playing those games at camp will not change the person you have raised him to be.


Hopefully, he will learn something to help him with video game design from the experience and you have learned as lesson from this situation as well.

K's Mom
K's Mom

Just because a kid is exposed to something does not mean a parent has to allow their child to think it is ok, that is why we have parents. It is a parent's job to instill some sort of value system in their children. It may not be your value system, but if it I'd Theresa's and her husband's then she needs to raise her hand.

RichardKPE
RichardKPE

Oh, and in the last 20 years, along with the proliferation of violent video games, violent crime among youth is down....WAY down.

Rory_Bellows
Rory_Bellows

@Georgiamomof5 

The "F" word? Really? You don't think your children already know it? Know it's meaning in several different contexts? Use it whe you are not around? The more you demonize words or these games, the more powerful they become. If you are a good parent and are consistent with your rules, you should have little to worry about. At some point, no matter what you do, they will hear the word, use the word, and act it out.....It's in the bible......Be a good parent and don't worry about it.

Rory_Bellows
Rory_Bellows

@BehindEnemyLines

 I remember the cartoons I watched as a child. Some were really violent, but in an over the top cartoon manner. Never did I want to drop an anvil on my brother, or put a bomb down his pants. To think these games automatically turns a child in to a psychopath is absurd.

Rory_Bellows
Rory_Bellows

@RichardKPE

Good point.

If you are a good parent, you should not have to worry about the affect of violent video games on your children.

RichardKPE
RichardKPE

@Rory_Bellows @RichardKPE Woah, woah, woah Rory.  You're twisting my words.  I in no way advocate not worrying about the effects of violent video games.  I'm simply advocating educating your kids on the difference between fiction and reality, to stop the games from having an adverse effect.  


I advocate that approach much more strongly than trying the sheltering approach and acting as if it works.