What are kid-friendly alternatives to GTA

Should an elementary school child be allowed to play "GTA"?

Question: My son is nine years old and likes to play on the computer. At home we have regulated exactly what he can and cannot play. He's not allowed to play "GTA 5", but now I've heard that he's playing it with his best friend. What can I do?

Answer: At workshops I keep hearing from elementary school students that they like to play "Grand Theft Auto" ("GTA"). This computer game is only approved for ages 18+, but that doesn't keep children away. They organize the game through older siblings, the circle of friends, and sometimes through their parents themselves. At one school, a teacher told me that he had allowed the children in the afternoon care to play "GTA" without knowing what it was about. The children had assured him that it was just "a car racing game". When he realized what "GTA" was about, he of course banned it.

The problem is that in my workshops parents sometimes know that their child is playing "GTA", but they don't do anything about it. Especially when the game is played with friends, this is often taken helplessly. What else? "You couldn't undercut contact with the other child". Yes, it is a challenge for parents to respond correctly to this.

The game "GTA" has been on the market for a long time, some parents of today's elementary school children probably already know it from their own gaming experience. The players slip into the role of a criminal, there are missions or an open game mode. The extent of violence, such as a highly criticized torture scene, the glorification of alcohol and drug excesses, the handling of sexuality and women, all of this has a disturbing effect on children. In short: the game is not for children.

However, prohibitions alone do not go far. Recently I was in an elementary school class where some children said that "GTA" made them "sometimes not sleep well" and "that there are things there that are scary". They didn't want to talk to their parents about their fears, because they shouldn't know about it.

So what can you do? An elementary school child should not be allowed to play "GTA", not even with his best friend. It is important that you consult with the parents of the child concerned. Perhaps they consider the game to be a harmless car racing game and would be amazed or grateful to find out what content their children encounter.

But I also advise you to talk to your child about the game. Try to convey that age ratings are definitely justified. Who is "good", who is "bad" in the game and why? What does that do to me How are women portrayed in the game? When talking to children, I notice that some consider the game to be a realistic illustration of life. It is therefore important to help them distinguish this violent content from reality. (Barbara Buchegger, May 26, 2017)

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