I’ll set the scene: Your kid is playing an online multiplayer game on their tablet, computer or other electronic device. It’s also time for dinner, or you need their help with something, or they’ve got a chore to do. But, they plead, they’re in the middle of a game; can’t they finish first? One dad has gone viral for arguing that, yes, they should be allowed to finish up their game — and he’s right. Because, as many parents may not understand, these online games are live, they cannot be paused, and the players are relying on each other.
TikTok user @billyvsco (a perfect “Dad of tweens on TikTok” name) offers an explanation and implores parents to ease up on the “Do what I say when I say it” mentality of old-school parenting, at least when it comes to online gaming:
As he says in the video:
Parents, let me explain something real quick, just in case y’all didn’t know. Online games? That’s like if she was playing a real game and I made her say, “Mr. Referee, can you pause the game real quick?,” and let me have her come over here and take the trash out, and let all of her teammates down.
Here’s the deal with online games: It’s the same thing. You can’t pause an online game, and she’s got teammates that she’s gonna let down if you just have her come take out the trash right now, when we know that trash can wait for 10-15 minutes, or however long this online game takes.
These games are happening in real time, and kids are usually on some type of team with other players; if they leave before the game is over, they are probably putting their teammates in a more precarious situation. They don’t want to be abandoned that way, and they don’t want to do the abandoning. No, it’s not quite the same as peacing-out midway through the third quarter of a basketball game, but it’s still a competitive activity among kids who have built a camaraderie with each other and are working together toward a goal.
There are caveats, of course: They should ask politely and respectfully to finish up. (If you tell me, “Nope, I’ll do it after I’m done with this game,” that game is going off right now.) And they need to hold up their end of the bargain. (When the game is done, come do the thing I’ve asked you to do, or I won’t be so flexible next time.)
This isn’t a case of the child running the show; it’s a case of the parent modelling respect and patience for another person who is in the middle of something that is important to them — and that’s always a good lesson.