Being 12 years old is quite an exciting time in life. You are finally old enough to make some of your own decisions and, after years of waiting, you are considered old enough to play certain video games. But being able to play these games comes with more responsibility. I have learned you have to be able to control: 1. How long you play them, 2. The environment you play them in, and, most importantly, 3. Pay attention to how the games you play make you feel.
Video games are great, but if you spend too much time on them they can have a negative impact on your life. If you play too long you might notice your grades dropping or that you’re not spending enough time with your family because you spend too much time on the game. It’s important to decide how long you’ll play before you start so you can monitor how much you play and know when it’s time to do something else.
When I choose games to play, I pick games that allow me to stay sensitive to real life war and loss of life. I don’t play games that are harsh or where your objective is to kill other humans because it can dull my spiritual sensitivity in real life. Instead, I look for games that are very noticeably fake, and set apart from the real life horror of war. My favorite game is a first person shooter game in which you are a tough soldier out to save the galaxy. This game features a lot of shooting, but the main character of the game doesn’t shoot other humans. This, for me, separates the game from real life and instead it feels like a simulation.
Another thing we do in our family is we control the environment of play. For example, I can’t play with my 6-year-old brother around because he doesn’t understand what I do about the graphics of the game. Another big deal when I got my video game system was an agreement with my parents that it would go in the family room on the main floor of my house. This makes it easy for Mom and Dad to check on what I’m playing to make sure there is no inappropriate content and help me regulate how long I play.
Also, to keep the Sabbath day holy, our family doesn’t play video games on Sunday. This practice has been a source of many arguments over the years, but as I’ve gotten older I think I understand why setting the Sabbath apart matters. I don’t think I would ever realize how much I think about playing video games if we didn’t make a point not to play them for a whole day. This is another way we separate the Sabbath from other days and it provides a big difference in my life to differentiate the Sabbath and make it feel unique.
Finally, I would recommend praying about what you are going to play and how much you’re going to play it. I promise that if you do you will come to an agreement with God about how you are going to keep the spirit in your heart and keep an environment that welcomes it. Good luck with finding your balance; Game On!