A 12-Year-Old Wants To Play World Of Warcraft On The Internet. Is This Appropriate For A Child Of This Age?

Steven Schlozman, M.D., Massachusetts General Hospital

Question: A 12-year-old wants to play World of Warcraft on the Internet. Is this appropriate for a child of this age?

Answer: This is increasingly the most common question I'm asked. In part it's because I personally happen to love video games. It's also because we experience the Internet and computer games and video games as something brand new as parents and yet to children it's very much part of their culture. So I would encourage parents whose kids start playing video games to know about those video games. To watch the child playing it if you have that opportunity -- to look at games like World of Warcraft.

World of Warcraft is in the group of games that many people have written about as potentially addictive games. These are games that children have a very hard time not playing. And in the case of World of Warcraft, it's because of social interaction that while playing it. It's a strategy-based game that requires many children and adults to interact in real time over the Internet, and that's a very, very potent, compelling thing to do. It allows you to be with other people in a very social environment.

If as a parent you can monitor that play and if you can monitor the language -- and the website by itself by the way, monitors the language fairly well -- if you can monitor it and if you're comfortable with it, I think it's okay. But if you're not comfortable with it, there is nothing wrong with saying to your 12-year-old "I'm uncomfortable with you playing this game and let me tell you why" and then looking for other games that might substitute in its place. There are other strategy-based games that you can look up online similar to World of Warcraft that aren't quite as violent.

Steven Schlozman, M.D., Massachusetts General Hospital
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