Questioner: My son plays a lot of violent video games. If I try and tell him not to play, it becomes a big problem. How do I approach this situation?
Sadhguru: So, your problem is not unique, it’s a generational problem. I don’t know to what extent these numbers are right, but I don’t think they are very far from truth. Some survey says, young men aged between twenty-four and thirty, spend a minimum of five-and-a-half hours on the video games in United States of America. Maybe they are a little off this way or that way but I don’t think they are too far away.
See, in a young person’s life, for most human beings, between twenty-four and thirty is the time when you really shape your life, isn’t it so? Hello? This is the time, most people have just finished their education and that’s the time they are really shaping their life, one way or the other. Whether you are going into a profession or crime or politics, I don’t know what’s your choice, but that is the time you are shaping your life. At such a time, a crucial time in one’s life, they are spending five-and-a-half hours on an average on playing some silly game of shooting people or shooting ducks or something, something – all kinds of weird things. I don’t even know what else is there, I’ve just… I know only by what other people have told me, I have never played a goddamn game. I like games but I have never played a video game, because other things have kept me busy.
I am not saying it is completely wrong. It’s a generational thing, digital technology is new and all kinds of things happening on the screen, which is far more active than what’s happening in the world, so it keeps people engaged. This is not a moral issue, this is a mental issue. Do you want to be a moron, playing things which doesn’t get you anywhere. All you do is ‘bing’ in the end. Playing with yourself and playing with a machine – life is going tick-tock. Life is going tick-tock.
Twenty-four to thirty years of age is a time when you have to decide which way you’re going to fall in this life, isn’t it in many ways? For me at twenty-five significant things happened. So this is not about making something wrong, that’s not the point. Well, maybe one day when there is a video game world cup, if you become the champion of the champions, then maybe people will appreciate that also.
But I must tell you this, I know a family, they had two sons – and one of them, the other one I don’t want to talk about. One of them invests only in video game companies, all right? And he plays video games nearly twelve to fourteen hours a day. And a physiotherapist comes and works his joints every day because otherwise he does only this [types on a keypad]. I stay in their home for three days. In this three days, not once did any of those young boys step out of the room. So, this is a phenomena in the world right now, because the technology is new, we are overly excited about it.
First thing is, at the age of three you made him play this, so he doesn’t know any other game. Game means on the video, that’s the only game he knows, you can’t blame the boy for this. Now if you want to correct, if you throw the X-box out, we don’t know what will happen to you. When people get hooked on to something, really hooked on to something, you try to go in the way, they want to kill you for sure, isn’t it? And already he has practiced plenty on the video games! He has practiced plenty, so don’t try throwing the X-box out.
See if you can get him interested, put him in a trekking program or a mountain climbing program, something where it demands physical and mental attention. I don’t think he will go and play tennis. No, but if you put in a program like this, initially he suffers, he wants to run away, usually they don’t let them go. Once you are on top of the mountain, at least you have to come back. There is no this [joystick] to come back, you have to walk down. It may change his perspective, or he may resign himself completely video games, because this demands so much pain and stuff, you know.
Climbing a mountain is not – it’s a joy but it’s not – it’s lot of pain too. It’s a great joy but it’s a lot of pain. Every time, every year when I do this Kailash trek in Nepal and Himalayas, when in Tibet when we trek, I always think enough I have done enough of this things, because going through the treacherous terrain, most incredible terrain – your eyes think so, your mind thinks so but your legs, they don’t agree. Your legs and sometimes your lungs, both of them don’t agree that this is an incredible place. So, for all you know, if you put him through that, he may never again come out of a video game or he may.
Because he knows so much shooting, maybe he should join the army. Yeah possibly, you want to shoot, you must at least be in the army because at least you are shooting for a cause. Otherwise you may start shooting on the street. So if army is not possible, maybe a policeman, at least you can carry a gun, maybe you don’t get to shoot much. I am not trying to joke about this, but this is a painful reality that this generation of people are going through.
If we have children like that at home, there is nothing to blame them for. It’s we who have done this, because lot of people give video games to their children because they want to go to the party, they want to do something else, you want to live your life but this one [child] demands attention. You yourself are dying for attention, but this one demands attention who has just come. So you give him something that engages him. It will lead to lots of things. And there is also a peer situation – his friends are playing X-box, if you don’t bring the Y-box for him, he will create certain situations.
This is why lot of people did not understand this probably. I said – repeatedly I am saying, and I am saying again. See you are not a tiger, nor are you a panda – I am saying you are not an endangered species. It is not compulsory that all of you should reproduce, there is no such thing. Those who think they want to have children and dedicate a certain amount of, considerable amount of time to raise another human being who will be better than them, they should do it because after all human generations need to happen. But it’s not compulsory that everybody must have a child.
If we want to produce children, we must be willing to allot a certain amount of time
So, if we want to produce children, we must be willing to allot a certain amount of time. Accidentally they turned out well, that’s not the point, it’s not right. Once we take charge of a new life, a fresh life, we must be willing to give a certain amount of time, energy and focus that is required to nurture this life in the best possible way, isn’t it?
So one thing, if you want to wean your child off these kind of things, whether it’s video games or television or something, something, in some way you have to make yourself more exciting than the video game, than the television, than something else. You have to make yourself, that kind of a person, they want to be with you.
So, a child is not a machine, you can’t switch it one way tomorrow morning – so video games to enjoying the rainbow, it’s not going to work like that. It’s a constant cultivation, constant cultivation every day, every day, every day – it may work, there is no guarantee it will work, hello? Those of you who raised children, you know, it may work. There is no such thing as it will work, there is no such thing. If you pay enough attention, it will yield good results, otherwise we don’t know, because you are not the only one paying attention to them. There are so many others who are also paying attention, and they may be more impressive than you, yes? Somebody on the street corner may be far more impressive than you and they may influence them much more than you, yes?
So – “Oh Sadhguru, I just ask you about the video games, now you tell me I made the mistake of bearing a child.” I’m not saying that, all I’m saying is, this is the consequence of handling a living being, including yourself. If you attend to it properly every day, every day, it will turn out to be something. If you think once in twelve years you can attend to it, then it’s only by accident. When something turns out well or bad by accident, you will remain in extreme anxiety even if it turns out well, because it’s by accident.
You must understand it’s not about fixing your child’s life, it’s about fixing this [self] life
You must understand it’s not about fixing your child’s life, it’s about fixing this [self] life. If this [self] is fixed, this will create the right ambiance where the child grows up. It is substantially proved that in the making of life, for most human beings over eighty percent of their life is determined by what they are exposed to rather than the genetics. So, you have the twenty percent already in your hands – genetics. Another eighty percent is there – of course children go to school, of course they play on the street, but you must keep your percentage over fifty percent at least, isn’t it?
Because you have the advantage of twenty percent genetics and till they are twelve, fifteen, at least you have some control over their life. So, your share of influence must be at least sixty, seventy percent, isn’t it so? But if that has to happen, you have to do something about yourself that they cannot help looking up to you, not in fear. If they look up to you in fear, aversion will come. Once they find their feet, they will teach you another lesson. Not in fear, but they look up to you because they think you are fantastic. So, you have to do some circus to prove that you are fantastic, that they start looking up to you in such a way that they will allow you to influence them.