With technology increasing and the variety of video games expanding, the question, "Do violent video games influence children?" is a very valid one. It's disturbing that over 10 percent of parents don't check the ratings on the computer or video games their children buy or rent.
Are Games Really THAT Violent?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, of the 33 most popular video games chosen by children in grades four through eight, 21 percent of them featured violence against women, in addition to other violent acts against other forces.
That's fairly significant. It's also important to note that the video game industry is counting up over $10 billion worth of sales in the United States each year. Time and time again, the most popular video games prove to be the ones containing violent acts, and the ones making the video game manufacturers the most money.
In a recent study performed by Dr. Vincent Mathews, professor of radiology at Indiana University School of Medicine, and his research team, it was proven that adolescents' brain functions are actually altered as a result of playing violent video games.
The study proved that after playing a violent video game for just 30 minutes, the adolescents experienced increased activity in the part of the brain involved with emotional arousal, the amygdala. In addition to this, a decrease of activity in the parts of the brain associated with self-control was observed.
This study is important because it proves a link between brain activity and the type of video games children play. While this isn't conclusive evidence that violent video games produce violent children, it definitely opens up the potential for more research.
Do Video Games Influence Children?
The American Academy of Pediatrics answers the question, "Do violent video games influence children?" with its report from back in 2000 that says there is a significant influence.
They cite violent video games and other violent forms of media as a definite threat to children, because they contribute to aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, nightmares and fears of being harmed by others. Additionally, video games that allow the player to initiate violent acts prove to be even more of a threat to the health and well-being of a child. Studies have demonstrated that children playing these games exhibit measurable decreases in prosocial and helping behaviors and increases in aggressive thoughts and violent retaliation to provocation. Between 13 to 22 percent increases in adolescents' violent behavior has been attributed to playing violent video games.
It's common knowledge that children learn by watching. Even if children know these video games aren't real, it still has an impact. Through playing these games, they act out "behavioral scripts" that get them positive outcomes with violence. It is said that exposure to these scripts causes increased feelings of hostility, expectations that others will behave aggressively, desensitization to the pain of others and increased likelihood of interacting and responding to others with violence. Video games teach children that violence is good by awarding players points for violent acts upon others.
Addiction Adds to the Issue
Studies have proven that video games can be addictive. This adds to the issue by demonstrating that not only will children be playing violent video games, but they will also be exposed to them for long periods of time. This is not just a passing fancy for children; but a true everyday activity. Repetition of these violent acts within the games just increases the effects.
Parents can help address this issue by paying attention to the games their children select. Pre-screen the games before allowing children to play them. Observe the ratings information before allowing any game to be purchased or rented. Limit children's video game playing to less than one hour per day. Parents can have control over this issue and lessen the effects of violent video games. In this day and age of childhood violence, awareness of this issue is imperative.