I have three sons, and they feel I am far too strict when it comes to their use of video games – I don’t think so. There is lots of research that video games can have a negative impact on children.
I do understand that from the average teenagers point of view games are a unique form of entertainment that encourages them to become a part of the game’s script. They are able to engage at both a physical and emotional level.
Playing these games in not a passive experience, in order to play and win, the player has to be an aggressor. Unlike watching violence on television the participants have to commit the violent acts to participate. Most researchers acknowledge that this kind of active participation affects a person’s thought patterns, at least in the short term.
Another concerning factor is that the violence that is enacted within the games is rewarded. In army and sniper games, players move up through the levels based on how many people they have killed.
There are grave concerns within my own field that the more frequently violent games are played the more likely this will alter a person’s perception of violence and its consequences.
A significant number of studies show that video games with violent content are linked to more aggressive behaviour in teens (males in particular). Many games now have violence as a primary focus and the repetitive nature of these games is proven to be an effective method in reinforcing learning patterns.
A 2010 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation (USA based Health policy leader) found that young people age 8 to 18 spent more than seven-and-a-half hours a day on TV and computer games and less than half of the children surveyed said their parents have no rules about the shows and games they could watch or play.
What can you do?
- Know the rating of the video games your child plays
- Sit with your child and have a good look at the content of the games
- Do not install video game equipment in your child’s bedroom
- Set limits on how often and how long your child is allowed to play video games
- Monitor all of your child’s media consumption—video games, television, movies, and the Internet for violent material
- Educate your children about what these games can do to their perception of violence and possible aggressive behaviour
- Supervise your child’s Internet use, there are now many “video games” available for playing online some are extremely violent
As parents it is important for us to understand the impact of video games on children.
I would love to hear your comment, questions or suggestions in relation to this blog or future posts.
Until next time ..