The Games Our Children Play

Video Games vs. Our ChildrenIt seems like every child these days has a Game Console or a Xbox, PlayStation or Wii and they love to play video games. Game consoles plug into your television and can even connect to your home’s internet router so games can be played in Multi-Player mode with other online gamers. Some games can be educational while others, particularly on the WII, promote exercise. However, the most popular games don’t provide your children with any educational or physical value. The most popular games are First Person Shooter (FPS) games like Call of Duty and Battlefield. Call of Duty has a series of FPS games for game consoles and there’s also a version for personal computers. The latest release is Call of Duty / Modern Warfare 3 which has sold over 50,000,000 copies to the gaming public. This game simulates war type scenarios and is very violent. I’m just wondering if parents that allow their children to play FPS and other violent video games are really aware of what effect this might cause to the future psyche if their children.

Let’s take a look at what we know and why you should be concerned:

  • Recent research has shown that connections between children playing violent video games can cause later aggressive behavioral problems.
  • FPS video games may become such a part of their lives that they may start to believe it’s real and they may want to combine their real life with their gaming life. Not good when their gaming life consist of killing people and blowing up things.
  • Research has also shown heavy gamers, which is four or more hours a day, put in less effort at school, have poorer reading skills, play less friendly with friends, have fewer hobbies and activities, and are more likely to be overweight.
  • The American Psychological Association says there are three major effects of playing violent video games, children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, children may be more fearful of the world around them and children may be more likely to behave in aggressive or hurtful ways toward others.
  • The online gaming community in general is not a place for the weak or for gamers that lack skill. The sub-par gamer is often ridiculed and called names like noob (a derogatory term for new player), loser, names that question their sexuality, racial names and more during the course of a Multi-Player online game. This might create an inferiority complex with the child and make them start to believe they can’t accomplish real life tasks.

Watch the video of a child raging during a session of Call of Duty. My question is, where are his parents?
Warning: Contains strong language and content that may be disturbing.

More facts about real life tragedies that violent video games may have contributed too.

The Academy of Pediatrics says “More than one thousand scientific studies and reviews conclude that significant exposure to media violence increases the risk of aggressive behavior in certain children, desensitizes them to violence and makes them believe that the world is a ‘meaner and scarier’ place than it is.” If children begin to think that this type of violence is normal behavior these thoughts are often said to be difficult to change later on in life. This is similar to the studies of domestic violence where children who are exposed to violence either become offenders or victims because they believe that what they are exposed to is the norm. One instance that brought the worry of violence in media is the Columbine incident. The two young men that committed this act of violence were said to have played numerous hours of violent video games. Their exposure to violence is said to have been the cause since the children involved in Columbine came from secure home environments with active parental influence. As with Michael Carneal, from Kentucky, who in 1997 shot and killed three of his classmates. He too was also said to have been a video game fanatic. Michael Breen an attorney in the case against Michael Carneal stated in court; “Michael Carneal clipped off nine shots in a 10-second period. Eight of those shots were hits. Three were head and neck shots and were kills. That is way beyond the military standard for expert marksmanship. This was a kid who had never fired a pistol in his life, but because of his obsession with computer games he had turned himself into an expert marksman” (Ivory, 2003), (Hanson, 1999, p. 15). These two instances in a whole may be small evidence however, proves that violent media play a role in such violence.

Did you know that:

  • 99 percent of boys and 94 percent of girls ages 12 to 17 play computer, web, portable or console games?
  • More than 90 percent of kids play video games 30 minutes a day though boys spend twice as much time playing than girls.
  • In fact, video gaming is so widespread among American kids that studies show that nearly every teen plays games in some way, regardless of gender, age or economic status.

What can we do, as parents, to take control of this rapidly growing issue that has become the norm amongst our children?

  1. When your kids are young, choose video games for them. Look for games that don’t contain violence or stereotyping. Talk to other parents for advice and suggestions of good games. Always check the rating and content descriptors on a game before renting or buying it.
  2. Parents are often frustrated by how little they know about the games their children are playing. Sit down and play with your kids, particularly if they have a new game and you’re unsure of the content. (Be aware that games can become more violent as you play them longer, so be prepared to invest some time in playing a new game with them.). If they play online, make sure you sit in on a few sessions of their online play and who they are interacting with in Cyber-Space.
  3. If possible, have your computer or video game console in a public area of your house so you can closely monitor what your kids are playing.
  4. Talk to your kids from a young age about why you find certain video game content objectionable. Most teens will play video games with violent or sexist content from time to time, so it’s unrealistic to try to ban them outright at this age. However, if you talk to your teens, about why you find certain games offensive, they will respect your feelings, and hopefully they will carry your values with them even when they play games away from home.
  5. Encourage critical thinking. Discuss with kids how believable events or story lines in games would be if they happened in real life. Challenge stereotypes when you see them, and encourage your children to do the same.
  6. Do whatever is necessary to encourage and support your child’s participation in other activities such as boy / girl scouts or after school sports. If your child doesn’t seem to be interested in anything other than video games, try a tie-in to one of his or her favorite games. If your son prefers fantasy role-playing games, for example, you might encourage him to read books with fantasy themes.
  7. Limit the amount of time your child is allowed to play video games at home. 1 to 2 hours a day with 1 or 2 days of NO video games at all and 2 – 4 hours during the week-end seems reasonable. Also, talk to the parent’s of your children and find out if they are playing video games when they are away from home. Let them know of the video game restrictions you’ve imposed on your children.

More information on the effects of violent video games on our children:

-E. White-

About E. White
Website Developer / IT Support Specialist • Professional Website Designs • Custom WordPress Themes • Flash Banners / Portfolios • Full Web Development Solution Provider Also, Support Windows Based Network Environments. 20 Plus Years of Experience. • Located in Los Angeles / Orange Co, CA

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