Violence in video games has been a concern since its inception; especially its effects on children. The fear is that since vioent video games contain role playing elements, they could simply be practice for real-world violence. The reasoning being that children learn by observing, mimicking, and adopting behaviors. Over time, playing violent video games could desensitize youths by numbing them emotionally, causing nightmares and sleep problems, impairing sleep performance, and lead to aggressive behavior. This is the view shared by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). The validity of these viewpoints are being called into question.
A 2001 report by the US Surgeon General, which reviewed both psychological research studies and large observational studies,has found an association between violent video games and increased agressive thinking. Dr. Patrick Markey of Villanova University and Dr. Charlotte Markey of Rutgers University have found that some kids may become more aggressive when playing violent video games, but that most are unaffected. Children who participate in violent behaviors tend to have these behaviors before they started playing video games. Children who already have these behaviors tend to enjoy violent media, but that doesn’t mean that everyone who enjoys violent media has these behaviors.
In a study by Christopher Ferguson and his colleagues at the Texas A&M International University, they found that there seemed to be no significant relationship between violence and video games and real-world violence. They followed 165 young people over a three-year period. They instead, found a correlation between kids whose parents or friends were more violent were more likely to participate in real-world violence. When the US Supreme Court and the Australian government were presented similar cases of the violent effects of video games, they both concluded that the correlation between the aggression of minors and violence in video games is unproven.
If there is still a fear of the effects of violence in video games on your child. There are steps that you can take.
1. Check the ESRB rating for content within a video game. Pick video games that you feel are appropriate for your child.
2. Play video games with children in order better understand the child and the content of the game.
3. Place video game consoles in common areas rather than their bedroom
4. Set limits for how long your child can play video games.