Last week, a headteachers group in Cheshire, England, came to limelight for dispatching a rather controversial letter to parents. The group warned parents that they will be reported to the authorities if their children were found to have played 18+ games. Understandably, the message was taken as a threat by many and wasn’t well-received. Following this, Eurogamer interviewed a teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous, currently working at a school in the Crewe and Nantwich area. The teacher wrote that while he plays and loves games himself, he can understand why that letter was sent.
The teacher’s letter to Eurogamer is very long, and if you’re interested in reading the full text, click here. But here are some selected excerpts from it, which put his point across.
The letter was more of a blunt tool to get a message across. Communicating on games is very difficult. Parents are ignorant or apathetic about what games actually are.
The letter was just a way of saying, ‘look, this is an issue.’ It is something schools would be obliged to report. It’s part of a bigger picture of general neglect. I don’t think it would just be, ‘if a child had been heard to be playing Call of Duty,’ that would be reported. This is one of many things.
My children in my class are eight. Some of them are nine. Lots of them would get messages over Xbox Live, voice messages, written messages, that can be very unkind, or inviting them to come play 18-rated games, which they can’t play, and then mocking them because they’re not allowed or they’re too scared to play them. It’s another channel of communication a lot of parents are ignorant of.
I don’t think teachers at large or the writers of the letter have a problem with the game industry. It is parents.
The teachers who wrote that letter don’t want to be making threats. But this isn’t the first attempt at communication. This letter is more of a last resort.
This letter, this threat, it is a bit clumsy, but teachers have tried. I’ve seen in our newsletter, ‘it’s coming to our attention that lots of children are playing games that are perhaps inappropriate for them. Please be sure to check any games your child plays are appropriate.’ Teachers have tried that. This dialogue has been attempted and had limited success.
The teacher went on to give a specific example of a child who he believes was impacted negatively by video games:
I taught a child two years ago who had been a high achiever for a long time. Then, when he got to year five he suddenly became incredibly sullen, very angry, frustrated and exhausted. We brought in a therapist to speak to him. Eventually it came out that he was watching lots of Let’s Plays of Resident Evil and other horror games. He had access to some he would play as well on his tablet. He told me he would be playing games at night and watching Let’s Plays, and he said lots of them scared him and he couldn’t sleep because of it. Of course, his parents should be intervening because of that. And his parents did once we raised it. But it still took him a long time to be able to sleep properly. He was 10.
Towards the end of the letter, the teacher encourages the gaming community to help educate parents instead of “sneering” at teachers. “Help teachers. Help us make sure kids get to enjoy games as they should be enjoyed,” he wrote.
What do our readers make of this?