By Marli Naidoo
Playing video games has become a popular activity for people of all ages. Over recent years they have become more realistic and they can be played online with other players from all over the world. Most children play for at least one hour per day, and the older the child, the more time he will typically spend on gaming.
Studies have found that most children prefer violent games above others. In these games players have to destroy their opponents by shooting them or taking them on with other weapons. Some parents are concerned that this type of play can cause their children to become aggressive.
There are many studies, but no concrete conclusion has been reached. Some studies show no connection between aggression and violent video games, while others show that some children do display less empathy and act more aggressively after having played one of these games.
It has however been found that violent games don’t turn your child into a criminal or a murderer or even a bully. Ever since these games have appeared on the scene and increased in popularity, teenage crime has decreased. This in no way proves that video games cause crime to diminish, but suggests that video games don’t cause crime. The determining factors have more to do with poverty, abuse, rejection and other social and mental factors.
The AACAP (American Academy for Children and Adolescent Psychiatry) recommends that parents take the following steps to help their children play these games appropriately and avoid negative consequences:
Make sure your children don’t play games with high age restrictions, even when they are visiting friends.
Let them play where you can see them and can hear what is going on.
Play the games with your children and discuss the content afterwards.
Limit the amount of time that games may be played and see to it that you are a good role model and don’t play for long hours yourself. Also, don’t play violent games that transgress your children’s age restriction where they can see and hear them.
Monitor all online activities.
Over and above these steps the fact remains that every child is different, and you as parents have to decide yourself what is good for your children. Some children are more sensitive and it scares them to play certain games, some act aggressively and show lowered levels of empathy after having played violent games, others show no negative consequences when playing the same games. It is therefore important to see and treat each child as an individual with unique needs.
American Academy of Children and Adolescent Psychiatry: https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Children-and-Video-Games-Playing-with-Violence-091.aspx
Educational Neuroscience: http://www.educationalneuroscience.org.uk/resources/neuromyth-or-neurofact/violent-video-games-make-children-more-violent/
Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/za/blog/evidence-based-living/201807/do-violent-video-games-make-kids-more-violent