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Does anyone know of a laser-tag place around here? My son has told me he would LOVE more than anything to have a laser tag party for his upcoming 10th birthday, but I don't seem to find one in a reasonable distance to our home (in Oakland) when I look on line. Any ideas? Karen
My son has his heart set on a laser tag party for his 11th birthday. He really wants to do it outdoors with trees. Has anyone done this? Any recommendations? Thanks in advance. Party Planner
My 10 year old son's summer day camp is planning an outing to a laser tag facility & I was wondering if other parents have problems with this activity. I've called the facility & was told that the object of laser tag is to "zap" members of an opposing team. Each team member wears a vest, carries a "phaser" (essentially a laser gun) & is given 6 "lives." When their vest registers "hits" they loose a life. When they have lost all 6 lives they must be "recharged." "Techno" music is played, there are obstacles to hide behind & the children reportedly love it! Am I being too fussy when I object to promoting an activity that, I believe, teaches our youth to fantasize about shooting one another? What do other parents think?
I know that many parents worry about their sons playing war games, and fear that it will promote warlike tendencies. I do not believe this is so, and it has not been my experience, growing up with a brother and raising two boys, now teenagers. Boys seem to really need to play these cat-and-mouse games. They enjoy running around in a pack of boys, weilding weapons or weapon-like objects (sticks, swords, cardboard tubes, you name it). I do not see any harm in this. On the other hand, I have known kids who were strictly forbidden by their parents to do any of these activities. Sometimes they are fine with that, but sometimes they become obsessed with the things they are not allowed to have. One kid would visit our house and have no interest in any other activities besides non-stop water gun play, because he was not allowed to have water guns at home. My kids quickly became bored with his single-mindedness, and went off to do other things while he continued to run around by himself waving the water gun.
So, I think you don't need to worry about your son playing laser tag, and furthermore, if he likes it, you should have a family outing sometime so you can try it yourself. It is not my cup of tea - I would rather be gardening. But when I try something that my kids enjoy, be it laser tag, or rap music, or TV shows & movies, I am showing them that I respect their opinions and their preferences, and they are more open to trying things *I* like. I think this teaches them about tolerance and respect for people who are not like they are. I always give them my opinion, which they are free to disagree with (and they often do). But they also ask my opinion about things ("Mom - look at this video game - isn't this cool?") So, I have some clout, plus, I get first-hand knowledge about them and their world. And every once in a while, they even introduce me to something that I really like, that I wouldn't have known about otherwise. -- Ginger
Furthermore, I've seen an article by a self-described former "kill-ologist" who used to work for the US Army, who basically described how giving soldiers regular target practice with bullseyes didn't overcome people's basic aversion to killing others, so that when they were actually presented with an "enemy" they often didn't shoot or missed on purpose. The Army learned that in order to break down people's inhibitions and get them to actually shoot other people, you train them by giving them realistic human-shaped targets in target practice, which vastly increased the Army's "efficiency".
So why does the laser tag bother me? Well, I vaguely remember reading something of Bateson's many years ago, in which he talked about young animals play fighting. What interested him, was that play fighting implied simultaneously sending the message "This is a bite." and the message "This is not a bite.", and the paradox inherent in that implied a higher order system of symbolic communication. It seems to me that what many parents and kids miss, in forbidding all gun play, is just how complex such play is, and the many sorts of things that might be being worked out in it. On the other hand, I think the thing that disturbs me about this laser tag game is that, in it, the "This is not a bite" component essential to play has become weak, perhaps dangerously weak. The kids aim at one another, and their shots actually land, by lighting up the vest or whatever. In turn, this means that, unlike with invisible or stick guns, or water guns, the victim has no choice about whether to be "dead" or not. Moreover, in such a formalized game setting, their is no room for the play to morph from the very narrow shooting/killing thing into other games or types of play, as such things always do in the younger crowd. Thus, in many ways, rather than (open, negotiable) play, it starts to seem like training, hence scary.
"...we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter... We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire..."
The full speech, On the Mindless Menace of Violence, can be found at: http://www.rfkmemorial.org/about/april5_1968.htm
Thanks, I appreciate this forum as we consider how to best raise our children and keep them safe and loved in this society.
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