Posted on 21/01/2016

About A Boy: Part 4

This week’s blog is the fourth in a series ‘About a Boy’.

In the first I highlighted the fact that boys are different to girls and therefore need a different type of school; a school that is geared towards boys. In the second and third I outlined the main attributes of such a school, and how these are driving FBS forward. In this week and next week’s blogs, I want to consider three factors outside school that have an impact, and what parents can do to help develop aspirational, high achieving young men of outstanding character. Today concentrates on the first of these factors, computer games…

I would argue that video games, particularly certain types, and if played in excess, are damaging to a boy’s character and achievement. The unreal world that many boys escape into for hours and hours every day is so much easier than the real world. It is a world where they are in charge; they’re in control and winning and success are much easier than real life. When things in the game get tough or they lose or get ‘bombed’, they just switch it off and start again. Boys would far rather spend time in this world than in a world where they have to work hard, sort out problems, put things right, face up to things; a world where they can’t run away or switch off when things go wrong; a world where they are not in charge but have to listen and follow instructions. The world of computer games seems so much better than the real one. The more time they spend in it, the harder and harder the real world becomes.

However, I do appreciate that there are different types of games. Games influence boys. They affect the way they think, speak and behave. If they play a game where they are rewarded for killing a policeman, having sex with a prostitute, and get even more points if they then kill the prostitute and get their money back (a game that has outsold any box office film!) imagine the influence on their young minds. Other games are different. Sports games and games where strategy and planning are important, where bravery and courage are commended – these games are ‘boyish’ and great fun. Even so, should these games be played at the expense of homework, family time, friends and getting out and doing things? In my opinion boys should not be on their game consoles more than about 40 minutes a day, maybe an hour on a Saturday.

But if we want to encourage boys to stop playing on their computers and games consoles, we need to offer something better – real games and real life adventure. Simply stopping, or limiting , time for gaming will create a void, and if it isn’t filled they will just want to go back to their games which will inevitably create tensions.

We need to get boys to see that, even though it can be tough, the ‘real world’ is so much more exciting, healthy, rewarding and fulfilling than the ‘pretend.’

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