You know that I love you, and I am proud of the young men that you are becoming. I see you making great decisions, choosing good friends, and embracing the values that we have taught you. I am so grateful for that, but there is still much life ahead of you. Lately, I have been worried about some trends that I see in society these days, and what they might mean for you and your future. Allow me to take a couple of minutes to make a few things clear.
Research has shown that forty years ago, men represented 59% of the undergraduate student body on college campuses. Today, they are the minority at 41%, and the percentage is dropping. “The widening gap,” says Margaret spellings, US Secretary of Education, “has profound implications for the economy, society, families, and democracy.” (Source)
Additionally, the Census Bureau reports that one-third of young men aged 22-34 still live at home. That number has doubled in the past 20 years. Girls are not following the same trend. Young men are not growing up and accepting responsibility like they should, and like they have done in the past. That is troubling.
Although there are many reasons for these trends, the one that I am most concerned about at this point is the rise in excessive video game use among young men. The average male teen spends 13.5 hours a week playing video games, which is the equivalent of a part-time job. Keep in mind that this is just an average, which means that there are some who spend much longer than that.
I have seen first hand the devastating effects of a gaming addiction. Instead of going to college, seeking employment, and being responsible for their own futures, too many young men are wasting their lives sitting in front of a screen. Many are not engaging in real-life relationships. If they do, they may neglect their wives and families for games that have no real meaning or value.
Tim Elmore, an expert on teaching youth leadership skills, reports that he has lost count of the number of young newlywed couples who married for love, then, somehow things changed…and [the husband] returned to his natural habitat – the screen. One young woman even classified herself as a “video game widow.” (Source) I’m sure she is not alone in that classification, and it breaks my heart.
It is also interesting to note that Stanford University will no longer accept “gamers” into their medical school because it requires too much extra work for the faculty to prepare them to operate on real human beings. (Source)
You may wonder why this concerns me. After all, we did get rid of our video game system years ago. But, here’s the thing…you will be leaving home in a few short years to go out into the world and make your own way. I am doing my best to teach you now, hoping that it will be enough to set you on a course that will lead to success and happiness. However, I also understand that you will need to decide for yourselves whether to continue to follow those teachings or to take a different path. That is part of growing up.
I worry about what might happen when I am no longer there to remind you that there is more to life than a screen. I worry that you might feel that you have been deprived of a lifetime of gaming, and want to make up that by wasting inordinate amounts of time playing useless games, at the expense of pursuing education, love, and family – the things that will bring lasting fulfillment and happiness. I worry about how you may throw away your amazing potential if that is the course that you decide to pursue. I want you to understand the reason why I am concerned, and the statistics that I mentioned speak for themselves.
Since I am assuming that you will eventually become fathers, you need to be willing to engage in some serious preparation before you get to that point. That preparation should start now, and continue into the years ahead. As fathers, it will be your responsibility, with the assistance of your wives, to provide for the needs of your families. Education will prepare you for that by unlocking a world of possibilities. Make it a priority in your lives. Study hard and prepare for college now, and then go to college and continue to study hard. Don’t party away those vital years of training, or give up because it is too difficult or not as “fun” as you had hoped. Life is about a whole lot more than fun.
Perhaps you feel like I worry too much, but that is my job as your mother. I have seen glimpses of the greatness within you. You are talented and capable. But as Stephen King said:
Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.
You need to work. Hard. You need to be strong enough to focus on your goals and ambitions, which can quickly be swallowed up by distractions if you are not vigilant. I know that you can do great things…hard things…even when I am not there to watch. Resist the urge to take the path of least resistance. That path will not lead you to the greatness that you are capable of achieving. I can guarantee that.
Some decisions are better made early when clarity of thought and foresight are on your side. This is one of those times. Decide now how you will react when you get to college and have a roommate who neglects his studies to play online games. Will you join him?
Decide now what you want your future to look like. What does success look like to you? How are you going to get there? What distractions could potentially thwart your mission to achieve that success, and how can you avoid them? Decide now.
And, just so you know, if you ever neglect your future wife and children in favor of video games, or anything even remotely similar, you can be sure that I will not be quiet about it. I will remind you, with as much motherly love as possible, that behavior like that is absolutely NEVER ACCEPTABLE!!! You were born for greater things, and I expect you to act like it.
But, don’t do it for me. Do it for you. Do it for the beautiful wife that you will have one day. Do it for the children that will be born to the two of you. Do it because you care about them, and about their future. Do it because you have better plans for yourself than a life wasted in pursuit of beating levels and winning games. Grow up to be men, not perpetual boys.
Remember that I will love you forever.