Video Games

When Two Parents Got Rid Of Their Xbox

Delaney Ruston, MD
December 14, 2021
Xbox and Playstation logos

When Rob and Maggie’s sons were about 13 and 15, they finally let their boys have what they were begging for: an Xbox. Their kitchen is attached to their family room, and Rob and Maggie soon started hearing one particular game getting played a lot: Grand Theft Auto

Rob told me, “We remain embarrassed that we neglected doing the due diligence before we let Grand Theft Auto into our house. And that when it was in the house, that we kept it so long.”

For those who don’t know, Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is a game about stealing cars and fighting, so there’s a lot of violence. (By the way, this game is brought up in the first Screenagers movie). 

Rob told me that his boys had other activities in their lives and that they weren’t always playing video games. That said, there was still a fair bit of playing. What got to Rob and Maggie was hearing all the nonstop violence in the game.

Rob said he played the game about ten times over the two years they had it — stating that he wanted “to see why it was so attractive to them.”

He saw how one could get “sort of a sugar high” from it, but he just kept seeing that. “It was the same old thing over and over: stealing cars and beating up people.”

Rob said that it ate at him that “the game normalizes violence.” There was also the time-sink factor of the gaming console. “I could see that none of their chores were getting done, but the gaming was getting done.”

Maggie said, “I also was irritated because I would want to watch a show, and the darn Xbox would make getting a show to play so frustratingly difficult.”

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Another concern that bothered the couple is what Rob referred to as “the surveillance factor of the game. When any of us entered the room, it would say ‘hi’ to us!” Rob and Maggie just didn’t like the fact a camera and microphone were listening and peering into their lives. 

They began talking with their boys about the fact they were considering getting rid of the Xbox, which made the boys pretty upset. The topic would be raised every few weeks for a couple of months. 

Finally, one day Rob and Maggie said, “We have decided to put it away indefinitely.” 

I spoke with their son, whom I’ll call Tim. Tim told me he was bummed when his parents finally decided to put the console away. He wasn't devastated, but he was definitely mad for a couple of weeks. He added that when his parents went to disconnect the Xbox, he ran to it and did it himself because he didn’t trust his parents’ ability to disconnect it without breaking it. 

Tim and his older brother were able to play video games on regular computers, just not on the Xbox. They didn’t play as much as when they had an Xbox. 

When I asked what he thought of GTA, he replied, “Adults think it promotes violence, but I think that is inaccurate. Many friends play it, and they are not aggressive.”  
Of course, I believe him that his friends aren’t aggressive. The impact of such games on aggressive thoughts and behaviors is complex and not the subject here today. However, the Screenagers Podcast episode, “Violence in Video Games and Shows And Why Should We Care?” explores the topic and is a great one to listen to as a family, perhaps during a car ride.

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For almost two years, Rob and Maggie kept the Xbox hidden away. Then, at the end of this past summer, their younger son, who was entering his senior year in high school, asked if it could come out again. Since his life was full, in a good way, Rob and Maggie said okay. It turns out he told me he only plays it about once every two weeks at most.

I asked Tim this question, “Let’s jump into the future and say you are the father of a 15-year-old son. Would you let your son have an Xbox and GTA?” 

He replied, “Hmmm, that is a good question. I think it varies kid-to-kid.”

I asked if he was mad or sort of appreciative that his parents put the gaming system away for two years. He said, “I am not mad, mainly neutral, but I was somewhat upset when they did it.” 

Questions to get the conversation started:

  1. What are your favorite video games these days?
  2. Do you know the recommended age for Grand Theft Auto? Let's check Common Sense Media 
  3. Let’s jump into the future and say you are the father of kids, would there be an Xbox and GTA in the house? What would be your parenting policies? 
  4. During this winter break, what are the plans for which video games will be played the most? And how much time will be spent playing?

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Video Games

When Two Parents Got Rid Of Their Xbox

Delaney Ruston, MD
December 14, 2021
Xbox and Playstation logos

When Rob and Maggie’s sons were about 13 and 15, they finally let their boys have what they were begging for: an Xbox. Their kitchen is attached to their family room, and Rob and Maggie soon started hearing one particular game getting played a lot: Grand Theft Auto

Rob told me, “We remain embarrassed that we neglected doing the due diligence before we let Grand Theft Auto into our house. And that when it was in the house, that we kept it so long.”

For those who don’t know, Grand Theft Auto (GTA) is a game about stealing cars and fighting, so there’s a lot of violence. (By the way, this game is brought up in the first Screenagers movie). 

Rob told me that his boys had other activities in their lives and that they weren’t always playing video games. That said, there was still a fair bit of playing. What got to Rob and Maggie was hearing all the nonstop violence in the game.

Rob said he played the game about ten times over the two years they had it — stating that he wanted “to see why it was so attractive to them.”

He saw how one could get “sort of a sugar high” from it, but he just kept seeing that. “It was the same old thing over and over: stealing cars and beating up people.”

Rob said that it ate at him that “the game normalizes violence.” There was also the time-sink factor of the gaming console. “I could see that none of their chores were getting done, but the gaming was getting done.”

Maggie said, “I also was irritated because I would want to watch a show, and the darn Xbox would make getting a show to play so frustratingly difficult.”

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