Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Runs with Chainsaws

Saturday I was enjoying a bit of peace and quiet when I noticed that things were too quiet. I did a mental checklist.

Husband? Check. At the YMCA.

Baby daughter? Check. Snoozing in bed.

Seven-year-old son? Che….

I could hear him. He was in the next room. He was in the next room sitting at the communal desk clacking away at the family computer. He was being quiet. But so quiet.

I got up and walked behind his chair. He was wearing earphones and did not hear me approach. I looked over his shoulder. I could see the screen. Oh, look. He’s playing a new game on the computer, I thought. I wonder if he got it off that new site he’d said the kids were jazzed about: mostfungames.com.

I bent forward, looking more closely at the screen. Odd. One character — what looked to be small child with a skeleton for a head — was shaking another character, an adult male in a business suit.

I cocked my head. It looked as if their bodies were melded together and trembling. My mouth opened. This was thrusting. What the flip! Is this…is it…time for Pedobear?

"Wha…wha…what is going on here?" I asked, leaning still more forward, trying to comprehend this gyrating congress between skull-boy and suited man.

My cherubic seven-year-old son — the one who it seemed just days ago was peacefully playing with Thomas the Train and Dora the Explorer — pulled back on the mouse and turned to gaze sweetly up at me.

His movement of the mouse retracted the child-with-skull character away from the adult-in-suit character.

As skull-boy moved back, a great bloody chainsaw retracted from the suit-man's abdomen. Blood spouted uncontrollably out of the adult's body and the psychotic skull-child bounced up and down in anticipation, bloody chainsaw at the ready for more ghastly carnage.

"Noooooooooooo! No, no, no, no, no, no, no!" was all I could manage. “Noooooooo! The Buddha! The Buddha would NOT like this!" I tried again, my voice rising an octave.

My son’s face contorted and crumbled. Tears began streaming down his cheeks. "I…I…I didn't,” he began, but he couldn't finish his sentence. “I…I…I didn’t know!" he finally blurted, wide-eyed and self-aware enough to begin the damage control.

"We do NOT play those kind of games in this house," I said my voice quivering. "NOT okay. NO violence. NO bleeding. NO hurting people. EVER!” I then shook a wire hanger at him and rolled my eyes back in my head.

Just kidding.

“Where did you get this game?" I continued.

"My friends told me about it. I didn't know it was bad!" the kid said, crying harder. I pulled him to me and hugged him.

"It's okay. I am not mad at you. I'm just shocked. I didn't expect to see blood. I didn't expect to see guys killing each other.”

You do know why this is wrong, right?" I pulled him away from me so I could look him in the eyes.

He nodded. "Because we don't hurt people."

"No. Because we're Buddhists and Buddhists try not to hurt people. The very first rule, the most important rule that the Buddha gave us, is 'Do no harm.' Do you know what 'harm' means?"

"Hurting people," he wailed, hugged me harder, the tears flowing. I hugged him harder.

"I promise I'm not mad at you. But I need you to know why I'm telling you not to do this. I want you to understand that it's not because I'm mean."

I felt his little head nodding up and down on my stomach.

"Do you think it's okay for a game to teach little kids to chainsaw people, to saw them in half and make them bleed? Does that sound right to you?"

"No! I don't know why they would teach me that!" He cast a wide-eyed look at the evil Apple, a desktop killing machine. He was most eager to pounce, to deflect all blame away from himself.

"I need you to promise that you won't play any games with killing or blood, okay?"

"Okay. I will never play a game with blood or killing in it. I will not kill people any more!"

"Thank you,” I said, hugging him tighter.

Good lord Buddha, did I learn a lesson.

He's only seven and I need to watch what he's doing on the computer like a mother hawk. Watching every 15 minutes is wholly insufficient. I need to be up in his business while he’s on that thing, checking constantly.

I mean, seriously.

Who made this game? Who would want to train our young to gleefully chainsaw the grown-ups in half?

Clearly, the terrorists have won.


  1. I wasn't at the Y. I was in the back yard dissecting squirrels.

  2. Thank you, Editor-in-Chief. I should give you a byline.

  3. Once, I had the 9 yr old, his 7 yr old brother, and their 5 yr old cousin, playing a game on the computer, in the same room as me. I was listening to them speak, not watching the computer. They were all fun and games, until I heard, coming from the 5 yr old, "Hey, cut off his head!"

    Y8 dot com has some really great games for kids. And some really NOT great games. I had to apologize to the cousin's mom, that he saw stick figures being decapitated. It's okay, she almost got me back, as the kids were watching Titanic this weekend, and got to the part where he's sketching her. All the adults were talking, in the same room. Then we heard unabashed, unaltered, uncontrollable giggling. From the boy children. Boobies.

  4. i am with you, sistah! life has been so much easier since the desktop died (it appeared to be a painless death), and i am so enjoying NOT having to constantly hover over my 6- and 8-year-old boys (seriously, there are lego games with cusswords!!!), that i haven't bothered having it fixed or replaced.



  5. This is how they prep for Order 66...

    BTW, do you have a chainsaw in the house? sleep lightly.

  6. Oh, hon.

    I'm sorry.


    We had to figure out a system for our computer in order to block certain stuff.

    Let me know if you want any help doing something similar.


  7. @Soobs: I'd rather it was boobies than bombs.

    @zanna: That would make it easier.

    @Cary: No, we're not a handy people. Haha.

    @Susan in the Boonies: Fortunately he still needs me to type in web addresses for him, so I just need to pay more attention.

  8. This all felt like "déjà Vu". *sigh* 8yo typed in the web site address for my 7yo. *sigh*

  9. my sister is dealing with the aftermath of computer game addictions with one of her sons. it is good you're nipping this in the bud now.

    there is weird ass shit out there.

    i know my mother is rolling in her grave, but...she was right about being strict about a lot of stuff.

  10. @Who: They're crafty, aren't they?

    @Char: To each his own. I'm putting this stuff on lockdown, STAT. Sounds like your mom would approve.

  11. My son and his friends grew up on some of these violent computer games. It seems, though, that it actually raised their sensitivity toward empathy - it seems they can compartmentalize the distinction.

    My son and his friends are the sweetest and most sensitive kids I've known. My son turned vegetarian when a neighbor shot his sister's cat.

    Maybe being exposed to this sort of violence but learning what is not acceptable about it, is better than avoiding it all together? Donno. You might have had a very good and necessary "teachable moment".

  12. It doesn't sound like one I want JDaniel to play either.

  13. I don't know why they even make games like that! It's disgusting!

  14. @RoberttheSkeptic: I agree. I think seeing his mom freak the flip out over violence was a teachable moment. Ha. And I'm not deluded enough to think that I'll be able to keep him away from violence entirely. I'm just going to try to limit it on my watch as much as possible.

    @JDaniel'sMom: Watch out for mostfungames.com. The most fun ones involve chainsaws, apparently. ;-)

    @Eva: I find it bizarre.

  15. This took my mind on an interesting journey. My first thought was 'oh! I can choose not to let my kid play those kind of games?!' As kids we played Street Fighter, Tek.kin, with the "FINISH HIM" special code that made it so you ripped out the other guy's spinal column. Kids play games, where they kill little turtles in Mario, it's part of it, little brown I don't even know what. Blood and guts is a natrual progression. So after it occured to me that I'm in charge and make the decisions, I then realized that not only am I ALLOWED to choose to not let my child play violent video games, it may very well be oh, I don't know, my responsibility?! Who would have thought? Thanks for helping a sista out. I'm all for epiphanys.

  16. Luckily Club Penguin violence is limited to snowball throwing. My boys are a little too comfy navigating the computer. Where is Pong when you need it?

  17. When Joe was 2.5 he could start the computer, start his game (Freddy Fish then), play the whole thing and then shut it all down. I didn't worry about it too much because it wasn't an internet game and he didn't know what the internet was anyway. I left the room for 5 minutes, came back in, and he had opened the browser and started random clicking. Of course that led to the one place that all internet links go to eventually (naked stuff) and he had gotten a video going. Horrified mommy shut it down (luckily it was *really* closeup and he had no idea what he was seeing) but he was mad for hours about that.

    Now he is about to turn 10 and the games I find out he plays over at his dad's house are giving me fits (I actually had to explain the pedobear because it was a poster on the wall in one of his games... Sigh).

    Glad you have the jump on it to start with because getting them out of it is even harder.

  18. I set up the parental controls on the cable box after noticing that just scanning the guide you find titles that read, "Bunny Blows Bobby" and "Ass Smackin'." Not even mentioning the ScyFy channel's latest movie, "Mega Piranha vs Gatoroid." Laptop use is restricted to on the dining room table--next to me. Dammit. When did being 10 become so dangerous??

  19. Maybe you need to invent a line of Buddhist-friendly video games for kids! Put the terrorists back in their place. :P

  20. Crap. My husband has been insisting that we put my 10-year-old's computer in the same room as our computers so we can monitor what she's doing. I seem to have an inappropriately optimistic attitude considering I used to work with pedobears.

  21. My son and daughter did not watch television when they were small...o nly a children's show .. they read , colored etc ..
    My son came home from school and would run through the house with an old block from his set of blocks, point it at us and shoot us with it.

    sigh .. I don't know who it is but yes, "they" won.

    They, the toy people who make crap like this for children .. and the game people and the television people and on and on ... all adults who make money off of our/your children. and it is all based on violence and ugliness. Such a shame.

  22. Oh man. I got a little nauseated on your behalf.

    I giggled at the "Nooooooooooo!", though. I'm know for a protracted "Whaaaa?"

    *SIGH* I'm making sure my child is computer illiterate and possibly hobbled in the attic.

    It's better this way.

  23. this freaks me out to no end. my sons (5 and almost 4) are already on the computer playing nick jr. a bit, but the thought of walking up to see the chainsaw game on the screen one day(and I'm sure I will) freaks me out.

  24. I find it disturbing how hard it is to find games without violence in them. Even my beloved Angry Birds is about killing on some level.

    What are we teaching the future?

  25. Regrettably, we--as a people--love violence. It is as American as Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chev...

    Okay. I don't suppose I need to finish that, do I?

  26. @Amelia: Believe me, I'm under no delusion that I can control what he sees and does all of the time. I'm just trying to do the best I can do in my own house. He may be ripping out spinal columns at his friends' houses all the time. *Sigh* At least he knows I don't want him to and he knows why I don't want him to. The rest is up to him, even if he is only seven.

    @Wow: What's Club Penguin? Should I google this for snowball-throwing games? Do the snowballs bloody anybody?


    @SaraReno: Is it wrong I snorted when I saw that PedoBear was a poster in his game? Good lord!

    @Chantel: Now that he's learning how to read I'm going to have to get all fancy like that.

    @Mel Heth: You know those games would suck.


    @Tanya: Yeah, my husband and I have agreed that the kids don't need any computers or tvs in their rooms. We want them out in the open where we can sneak up behind them.

    @a Broad: Early on I realized he was going to make guns out of spatulas, so there is a limit to what I can do. But I'm still going to do what I can. I'm not ready to wave the white flag just yet. He's only seven. Ha.

    @Kate: "It's better this way," made ME laugh.

    And I totally pictured you as Kathy Bates.

    @Sherri: They're really good at finding this shiznit. I tell you.

    @Logical Libby: I was wondering about Angry Birds the other day. Why are the birds so angry? They don't look angry. And it's not really the birds who are launching themselves at the pigs. It's you, the human player. Maybe it should be called Angry Humans. Maybe I think about this stuff too much. Har.

    @Piazza: I no longer write for that account so you can See the USA in your Chevrolet all you want.


  27. OK.

    My heart was pounding on that one.

    Pounding in commiseration.

    We learned the hard way to get all these parental guides b/c of THIS EXACT SAME THING.

    How does it happen?

    I could go on forever.

    It's a battle for our children's souls.

    I heard a fascinating professor on NPR speak on what this repeated viewing of violence does to developing minds.

    It made me burst into tears.

    I'm with you, and I hear you.

    I was that sobbing mom, too.

    Fantastic post, though, I am sorry for your emotional pain.

  28. My toddler is more fluent in iPad than I am. Didn't even know it had a youtube app already installed until I found her watching "Dark Chocolate Dipping." And no, it was not about a sweet confection. My eyes are still burning.

    I am hoping that I'll be prepared for this day or the internet will have imploded before the kids learn to surf for games.

  29. We need to develop some Buddhist games, like where you can combat the three poisons: anger, craving and delusion. The game weapon could be a chainsaw...

  30. The more I think about this, it really isn't so fatalistic.

    The 18 year old (OMG!) grew up on video games. Grandma made sure that he had every game system. Call of Duty is a favorite. He also ran around at 3, pretending he was shooting a gun, and we aren't "gun people." He's also one of the MOST compassionate, healthy, level headed people I know. He isn't even on medication!

    The 9 year old and 7 year old grew up watching COPS with mom and dad, singing that song at 2 years old. They aren't out killing anyone, either.

    Maybe what we show our kids, is more important that what they watch on television, or on the computer.

  31. My kids wanted to play mostfungums. I checked it out. It is never going to happen.

    Once, my mom let my (then)5 year old go on youtube alone. She didn't know. She put on a cookie monster video for him. She didn't know. She went to make dinner. She came back and he and been clicking through links. She didn't know.


  32. It's not the terrorists. It's the god-eat-god world non-Buddhists have painstakingly created over thousands of years of bloodthirsty evolution. Kids have been cruel and grim for as long as I can remember, and living out violent fantasies vicariously is as far as most of them ever go with it. I'm not excusing, so much as accepting that that's how we got here. And yes, paradoxically, you have to watch over them ever more closely the older they get. Ask me about my 16-yr-old.


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  34. well, you are certainly interfering with the kid's ability to fight the zombies when they come for you.

  35. I am sure you won't be able to prevent him from being curious about all the stuff on the internet. He will no doubt run into a lot of different kids as he will also go through a rebellious period. I think he will be fine , because he will always know he was truly loved. Pedobear is just disturbing and creepy.