Parents’ reflections upon mediating older teens’ online gaming practices
Media@LSE Working Paper Series
School of Arts and Humanities / Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education & Communications
This paper addresses the experiences of five parents from three families in a group of older gamers. It is unusual because the gamers are aged 16-17, and the parents recognise that their mediation role will soon be redundant. The gamers concerned have all played in the same gamer teams for a number of years and there are a range of indications from the parents’ accounts that each of them is mindful of the circumstances under which the other team members are allowed to game. Indeed, it could be that the favoured game they all play, DOTA 2, was chosen because one gamer’s family would not allow him access to 18+ games such as Call of Duty. The paper provides examples of where parents and children have each moderated their behaviour with the needs of the other in mind. It suggests that, as they reach the end of their active parenting role with their child moving into legal adulthood, parents become more willing to trust their own evidence of the impacts of their decision and are more likely to reject the cautionary tales of moral panics. Gamers’ and siblings’ perspectives will be considered in a further paper, but parents’ comments suggest that older teens are more able to see things from their parents’ points of view and try to make it easier for the parents to make the decisions that both parties will find easier to live with. Unusually, this paper also considers the impact of siblings upon parents’ mediation practices. It suggests that parents who have to take account of younger children in the family negotiate the impact of their individual decisions upon all the children in their care. It is clear that peers are also considered when it comes to parental regulation of older gamers’ online activities. This paper suggests that parents of younger teens might feel more relaxed about their own children’s online activities if they had more opportunity to talk to parents whose children have matured beyond the key early teen years of 13-16.