A Dad Took His Sons to Israel and Syria to Show Them the Difference Between War and Video Games

8 months ago




Frank and Leo with two Israeli soldiers. (All photos: Carl-Magnus Helgegren)

When Carl-Magnus Helgegren, a Swedish journalist and professor, heard his two sons begging to play violent games like Call of Duty, he was concerned that they didn’t understand the real impact of war.

The father made a pact with his two sons, Leo, 11, and Frank, 10, that he would buy them the game if they first went to Israel and Syria with him to see the reality of war.

According to the Daily Mail, the boys agreed to spend 10 days in Israel and occupied regions of Syria with their father and mother, Elisa.


Helgegren previously spent time in the Middle East as a journalist, and said, “I wanted to show them the negative effects war has once the guns and the canons have silenced. The people affected are someone’s father and brother and sister and mother.”

The family landed in Israel last April, only a few months before the conflict between the country and Hamas began.

They traveled to a refugee camp in Jerusalem where Palestinian children seek shelter. Helgegren said one member of the medical staff told his kids about three boys who were in wheelchairs after being shot through the spine with rubber bullets. He explained it to them by saying, “No more football practice.”

His children were shown firsthand that pretend games fail to show that men in battle aren’t the only ones who get hurt.

“I don’t like the normalization of guns. I do not believe in a world without weapons where guns are used as flower pots. But why should children be exposed to guns and violence several hours a day?” Helgegren told the Daily Mail.

The Helgegren family also visited Golan Heights — a Syrian territory occupied by Israel — to visit with other families who continue to fear for their loved ones lives each day.


Upon returning home to Sweden, the boys no longer showed an interest in war-related games, but their dad says they both constantly ask for updates on what’s happening in Syria and Israel.

Helgegren admits that taking children to the Middle East is extreme, and not every parent needs to do that, but he does think it’s important to educate kids on the reality of war and guns.

Do you think this is too extreme and merely exposing children to violence further, or is it an eye-opening experience that kids can benefit from?

RYOT NOTE from Viola

There are currently 51.2 million refugees worldwide, and as the violence throughout the Middle East continues, that number will only increase. Organizations like the United Nations Refugee Agency are working hard to care for the millions displaced, but their funding’s struggling to keep up with the aid needed. Click the Action Box to learn how you can help the millions of refugees around the world, and don’t forget to share this story to Become the News!



guns israel Syria video games war

A Dad Took His Sons to Israel and Syria to Show Them the Difference Between War and Video Games

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