I am a teenager. I like video games, but my parents won’t let me have any. I would like to play these games in secret, but first I would like to ask your opinion…. Does God think video games are a sin? What can I do?
We are honored that you would consider our opinion, and we are impressed that you care so much about doing the right thing.
You did not mention the reasons that your parents have for forbidding video games, but it is easy to guess. Research has shown that video games cause a release of the neurotransmitter called dopamine in our brains.1 That chemical makes us feel good, so it is a primary reason why people like video games.
However, over time, just like a drug, more and more dopamine is needed to maintain the good feelings, so the gamer plays longer and longer, trying to recapture the good feelings. Under certain circumstances, many experts believe that the gamer becomes chemically addicted to gaming. That is why there is a stereotype of gamers as people who retreat from real life and spend all their time gaming, neglecting even their own hygiene. Parents who are thoughtful and informed tend to decide not to take the risk that their child will become one of those who is addicted.
Video gaming has become more and more popular with kids that are much younger than you are. Their brains mature at different ages, but most experts believe that it does not happen until they are in their mid-twenties. Research has shown that when they play videogames before their brains have fully matured, there are circuits in their brains that are susceptible to being rewired.2 Therefore, even though you are an older and mature teen, your parents are wise to be aware of the danger.
You ask if God thinks that gaming is a sin. Given how obvious it is that some games contain violence, curse words, and mature subject matter, there is little doubt that they will have a negative influence on your life. So if you really want to know what God thinks about this, the best answer we can give you is that He wants us instead to fill our minds with things that are pure and admirable.3
However, in your case, there is an even more compelling answer. You are still dependent upon your parents financially and are not yet a legal adult. Because of that, you are still considered a child legally and ethically, even though you don’t feel like a child. Since there is no question that God expects children to obey their parents,4 and your parents have forbidden you to play video games, the answer is that the sin consists of disobeying your parents.
We understand that you are mature and feel that you can control the risks. We understand that all your friends are playing video games and that you want to join the fun. And we understand that you believe your parents are being unreasonable. So now you must decide whether or not you believe that God Himself is being unreasonable by expecting you to obey your parents.
We wish you well,
1 Kabir Lal, “10 Negative Effects of Video Games” <https://www.healthygamer.gg/10-negative-effects-of-video-games> Online 13 November 2020.
2 Amy Paturel, “Game Theory: The Effects of Video Games on the Brain,” Brain and Life Magazine, June-July 2014 <https://www.brainandlife.org/articles/ how-do-video-games-affect-the-developing-brains-of-children> Online 13 November 2020.
3 Php 4:8
4 Eph 6:1