I’ve heard of parental controls in the context of television sets and video games, but having no kids of my own, I’ve never had to implement them. I certainly didn’t apply any when I set up my PlayStation 3 system; and their necessity never occurred to me when I connected an Xbox 360 for my five-year-old nephew and activated “Xbox Live.” Undoubtedly, I’ll be blamed for the consequences.
Given all my prior missteps, why would anyone in my wife’s family ask me to assemble a gaming system for one of their children? The answer, simply put, stems from two traits shared by all Gambinos: frugality and technological ignorance. Stated less diplomatically, none of them knows squat about connecting an Xbox system to a TV, and they’re too cheap to pay someone else to do the job for them! Those are the reasons why Franco’s Christmas gift remained in its original packaging until Sophia volunteered my expertise in electronics’ assembly for the task.
I connected young Franco’s gaming system and set up its online gaming feature, Xbox Live, a week ago. Until this morning, neither his parents nor grandparents realized that parental controls hadn’t been enabled, despite Franco having donned his headset for games with far-flung friends each night.
I still don’t know which title Franco cued up this morning before his parents summoned him downstairs for their family outing. What I’ve since pieced together is this. Although the lad turned off the TV, he failed to terminate his game session or power down the Xbox prior to scurrying from the den. Minutes after he and his parents left the house, my mother-in-law wandered past the den’s open door. At that moment, commentary from one of Franco’s online teammates broadcast from the still-active headset. Maria heard the disembodied voice and peaked into the room to investigate. Knowing nothing about Xbox Live, the highly superstitious woman jumped to the obvious conclusion that her house is haunted. More to the point, when the “ghost” shouted “die Motherfucker, die!,” she assumed an angry poltergeist had directed the comment at her.
Maria fled from the room and straightaway informed her husband about the malevolent presence. Vito, who’s equally clueless in the realm of video gaming, went to investigate. Though not fully convinced of a ghostly manifestation, he conceived no better explanation for the agitated voice which threatened: “Your ass is mine, bitch!”
Not one to panic needlessly, Vito telephoned me for a second opinion. I walked to their house a couple of hours ago and quickly figured out the source of the mysterious voices. Now I’m facing an obvious lose-lose proposition. If I belatedly activate the appropriate parental controls, as I suppose I must, I’ll certainly catch hell for Franco’s week-long exposure to foulmouthed strangers. Even worse, once the truth about the poltergeist emerges, my mother-in-law surely will abandon her current demand to move as far away from here as possible, as soon as she can.