Note: This article assumes that you have already approved the purchase and playing of Call of Duty by your teenager in your home.
Somehow, someway, Call of Duty has found its way into your home. Perhaps your teenagers were introduced to it at a friend’s house, perhaps it was a present from an unsuspecting grandparent, but whatever the source, it has infiltrated your family.
As a parent of a teenager you are no doubt constantly dealing with a variety of headache-inducing technology situations - cell phones in the classroom, texting at the dinner table, iPods, instant messaging, cyber bullying….the list goes on. You may even have had to deal with some none techno teenage issues such as drinking or drug use. One of the most challenging issues for moms and dads today is managing their teenagers gaming activity. The launch of Call of Duty:Black Ops earlier this month has many parents gnashing their teeth in frustration as their children disappear for hours into their bedrooms and basements, emerging only for more pizza and pop.
At this point though, you have been a parent long enough to know that defining rules and setting parameters with your kids is extremely important, and best tackled as soon as the situation arises. As the mother of two teenage sons who have been gaming for the past seven years, I have learned a thing or two about managing and monitoring their Call of Duty for Xbox 360 (and prior to that,SoCom) play. Here are tips on parental controls for Call of Duty Black Ops and other things to keep in mind when you are setting up parental guidelines for online playing time.
The Call of Duty franchise of games are first-person shooter games, and set in a variety of war-zones. First developed in 2003, the latest in the COD series is Call of Duty:Black Ops, and was released on November 9, 2010. COD can be paid on Xbox 360, Playstation 3, Wii, Nintendo DS, and Microsoft Windows. With 7 million games sold on the first day of its release, Call of Duty Black Ops broke the sales record set by COD: Modern Warfare 2.
Setting Limits on Gaming Playing Time For Your Teen
- Clearly set your limits on playing time as soon as Call of Duty enters your home. Is one hour a day reasonable, two hours, or more? Will you allow play on weekends only, or weekdays as well? Take advantage of setting parental controls on Xbox 360 to limit their playing time. For other online games, search the internet for free parental controls settings and free parental monitoring software.
- Can it be played after school to relax, or must homework be completed first? What about daily or weekly chores?
- How will you handle gaming over holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and March Break? What about the summer when kids have all day to play?
- Can they go to a friend’s house to play COD? It is easier to monitor playing time and behavior if your children are at your own home.
- Are you comfortable using extra playing time as a reward for success in other aspects of their lives, such as getting better grades or completing chores that aren’t part of their regular responsibilities?
- If it is being played on a family television, have you established priority and precedence rules? For example, no one can play on Sunday nights at seven p.m. (because Mom is going to watch 60 Minutes).
- If you have younger children in the house, how will that impact your older children’s playing? All Call of Duty games are very violent and graphic. Will you allow your youngsters to be in the same room when your teens are playing?
- Any first-person shooting game is fast-paced and pressure filled. Discuss with your teen what is acceptable to you in terms of venting frustration verbally. What language is acceptable and what is unacceptable? Whether your teens are gaming in a family room, bedroom, or basement recreation room, do you really want to be serenaded by a stream of profanity every time they get blown up or shot?
- What (if any) unacceptable behavior will result in the withdrawal or restriction of the agreed-upon playing time? For example, “if your average drops below a B plus, if you don’t put out the garbage…”
- How will you handle the end-of-play time? When you announce that dinner is ready, will you allow your gamer to finish the current game they are in, or must they drop the controller as soon as they hear the word? Be very clear with your teenager as to how this is to be handled.
Your Teen and Online Gaming
How to Set Your XBox 360 Parental Controls
Gaming is becoming increasingly popular amongst teenage girls
Gaming as an Addiction
While online gaming was developed to be an enjoyable recreational activity, it can become an addiction for certain people, much like gambling. Discuss this with your teen, and emphasize to them that they are responsible for their actions and to make sensible choices. At the same time, be alert and aware of any changes in your child’s behavior. Consider what you will do if their gaming becomes a problem and negatively impacts their school, extra-curricular, or family activities. Are you going to restrict their time, or remove the gaming console completely? And if they are playing responsibly, are you going to reward your teens’ self-discipline in staying within playing-time limits? See the Web Resources on this page for more information on dealing with problem gaming behavior.
Prior to the release of Call of Duty: Black Ops you couldn’t play simultaneously online on the same unit. An ever-too-common sibling situation was one with two or more kids and one gaming system, and mom or dad having to monitor individual playing times and govern sharing rules. Now, more than one person can play simultaneously online on the same system. They will automatically be placed on the same team….this could be a good team-building activity and certainly alleviates the constant parental refereeing requirement. Or it could result in a heated argument. Just a warning.
Both of my sons play COD on teams where they personally know the other players. Their COD teams are made up of friends from high school and university and from their various football teams. Call of Duty has also been a way for them to connect with their uncles, cousins, and extended family members whom they only see a few times a year. Strange as it seems to me, online gaming seems to be a way for my kids to socialize and stay in touch with friends and family who have moved away or who we don’t see on a regular basis.
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Emma from Houston TX on March 12, 2011:
Sarita Harbour (author) from Yellowknife, Canada on February 14, 2011:
I am so glad you found it useful, Steph. Thanks for stopping by!
Steph Harris from Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom on February 14, 2011:
Very good hub, you have given a worried mother of a 13 yr old boy some great tips. Thank you.
Sarita Harbour (author) from Yellowknife, Canada on January 31, 2011:
Thanks, Maggie-May! It will be easier on you in the long run to establish the rules right away - I learned THAT one the hard way. So glad you found it useful, and great to see another Canadian!
Nadine M AuCoin from Fort McMurray on January 31, 2011:
Thank-you so much for the info...my son is seven going on eight and just received an xbox 360 and a ps3 for x-mas...the xbox360 is here with me an he plays ps3 when he visits his father...useful info..thank-you!