You are what you repeatedly play

Assalaamu alaikum!

My son is obsessed with his games. It started with a mobile phone. I’ve tried taking the middle ground here, by not letting him have it on his person twenty-four-seven like ‘all the other moms do’ so he gets to use it for maybe five or ten minutes a day to play with his VR, check his messages and his cryptos, or so I thought.

Video games are basically drugs for little kids

A couple times I’ve found him sneaking into the room and taking the phone, and whenever there is no sign of him and the house is too quiet, I know he is playing some game on that device. It’s gotten so bad that I’m convinced that mobile games are drugs in disguise.

Lying, cheating, stealing the phone and basically trying to do anything to get another fix, this is what these devices reduce our kids to. They can’t focus, they have fidgety hands that are in perpetual game mode and fingers that are ready and waiting to press any button that comes in their way.

I have see many kids with this same dilemma, and parents that are completely oblivious to it.  Studies have shown that kids who play violent virtual reality games often have  higher heart rates, experience more dizziness and nausea, and exhibit more aggressive thoughts  than those who don’t.  

Your child is traumatised

Just the act of remembering the last time they played is enough to get the blood flowing in their veins again. Now, every child in every class suddenly has ADHD. Teachers want them to sit still and be quiet for hours at a time, concentrating carefully on a book and pen on a drab table. Meanwhile your child’s brain is ready for fighting, flying, running, jumping and shooting.

Video Games can be violent

Our kids are in distress. They may even be experiencing symptoms of PTSD. Video-game violence is very similar to real life violence. It has a similar effect on your brain and emotions. Continuous exposure to violent environments like this, whether real or virtual continue to desensitize children around the world on a daily basis, and turn them into cold, unfeeling, anti-social and disconnected individuals.

In military style,  first-person shooter games, players take the role of soldiers engaged in combat in environments modelled on real-life war-zones. Players are exposed to varying degrees of reality in war-zones via their senses while engaging with these virtual machines. That can’t be good for them could it? When we were little we used to watch the Gummi Bears, now our kids are out there killing others in virtual worlds!

Your child is learning to gamble

 

It’s not just the violence. Mobile games that you happily let your little ones play with so that they stay out of your hair and give you a few minutes of peace are actually preparing them for gambling. Whether it is a loot box that they are waiting for, that regularly appear in games for children and can be bought with real money, or the random rewards that they get if they just do the next action, these are all psychological manipulations meant precisely to make the player spend money and time on the game. 

By playing and getting rewards at random intervals, people cannot predict how much they’re going to get, and when this happens, they often get very focused and fixated on it, and want to do it over and over again, past the point of rationality. This works especially well on kids, unfortunately. They become obsessed with playing just one more time, just for five more minutes, just in case they get another reward. They don’t want to miss anything. Sound familiar?

Basically, your child is being groomed to be a gambler.

The exposure to sex, violence and criminal activity is overwhelming

I was at a store over the holidays and I saw another mum buy her 12 year old child a brand new Playstation 4 bundle complete with a set of 4 games. The child was so excited and the mother was just there to swipe the card. She couldn’t care less about what he had in his hands. He was probably traumatising her all year to buy it.

When I saw the games. I was disturbed. A child that age should not be playing GTA or God of War. Actually, nobody should. What could your pre-teen possibly be learning from a fully 3D environment  where players can car-jack vehicles, solicit prostitutes, steal, kill and create mayhem they would just be arrested for on-the-spot in real life? How could he possibly benefit from a game allowing him to  use his bear hands to literally rip off a man’s head, and get  points from killing innocents?

Majority of the content in these video-games are worse than the things your child may watch on a television show. In the case of a game, your child is not just watching, but also participating in gambling, committing violent crimes, promiscuity, listening to heavy metal and reinforcing their altered state-of-mind, harming other people, and being rewarded for it!  These games are rewiring your children’s brains, literally. It is rewiring them to live a life that is contrary to the teachings and values of Islam, and we are allowing it.

You are what you repeatedly play

The plasticity of the human brain is such that you become what you repeatedly do. The reason why this saying is so true, is because although our neurons do not regenerate themselves, they make new connections and pathways in the brain and change our ways of thinking and behaving based on what we are doing at the moment.

This alone is a very petrifying thought. Imagine a generation of violent, sociopaths whose brains light up every time something sinister, violent or gruesome happens just because we allowed them to grow up that way? Wait, we’re already there!

Take control

Once you see symptoms of desperation in your child’s eyes, where you know they are hooked on these digital drugs until they are in a state of complete and utter dependence and seem otherwise brain-dead in real life, it is probably already too late.

But, if you suspect that your child is headed in that direction, it is time to pull the plug. Go ‘cold-turkey’. There is no other way to do it. Negotiating with your child to be ‘the nice parent’ will only end with them manipulating you. They have learnt many more skills and tactics from these games than you can ever imagine.

It’s easier to throw a $100 game in the trash than throw your child’s brain down the drain, right?

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About the author

Zahara is an entrepreneur, homeschooling mom, education specialist, UX designer and writer. She currently lives in South Africa and works with social enterprises and faith based companies around the world. You can see some of her projects at http://zaharacassim.com/

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