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Violent Video Games and Children

by: Regina Woodard ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 5/25/2012 • Leave a comment

Are violent video games disruptive to children? Do violent video games beget violent children? As a gamer from the age of ten, this article is told from the point of view of someone who plays violent video games, but isn't very violent.

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    Violent Video Games and Children

    So the new reports are in - violent video games have shown a slight increase in aggression in kids.

    doom 

    Now before you get the pitchforks and start the angry mob, let's sit back and take a look at things, especially from someone who has not only played violent video in games in her youth, but plays them now. Am I saying that certain games aren't for kids? No, there are obvious kid friendly games around, but I am saying that instead of basing the entire video game world as the main reason kids are going astray, just sit back and hear a tale.

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    I'm Okay and You Can be Too

    I should perhaps start by stating the games that I play.

    I grew up as one the so called 'millennial generation', those that grew up around computers, consoles, and technology when it was still in its infancy. Video games for the home were gaining in popularity thanks to the Atari and ushered in by a little company in Japan called Nintendo. I loved Mario - of course - enjoyed playing Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, race car games, the works. Years later, I still love my video games and I'm varied now as I was then.

    People are probably shocked to see The Sims library next to the WoW expansions for the PC, not to mention that I own a Wii. I love Wii Sports, I really do, and don't get me started on the one arm work out from Force Unleashed.

    With technology getting more advanced, storylines are actual movie quality (or better) plots, with high grade graphics. Instead of just push A and B to jump and move the arrow keys, games are more interactive, placing the player as part of the story instead of just the player. You know only need to check the very awesome people at Bioware to see this. Video games aren't the Mario-search-for-Princess anymore; they are more complex.

    And with that comes more realism.

    So is it possible to expose a child to video game violence and have them turn out alright?

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    Effects on the Kiddies

    So what of the realism that makes things bad?

    Well, some experts believe that instead of talking out issues and problems, video games basically enable kids to internalize their feelings. Like a giant episode of Barney, everyone should hug and hold hands. Dr. Phil thinks so.

    vg kids 

    Joking aside, yes, there are definite times when a child should express their feelings, whether it's anger, sadness, happiness, what have you. In fact, adults should remember that lesson too. But there are some days - just normal, run of the mill type days - where you don't want to sit and hold hands. You just want a little 'me' time and if the me time means you have to kill some zombies, then kill away.

    Perhaps its that more and more blood and guts are on the screen than there had been before. Mortal Kombat was slated as one of those violent video games, though in hindsight it's probably nothing compared to games out today. Maybe its the worry that video games are desensitizing our youth; that they find it perfectly acceptable to run around with two one handed axes, just looking for Horde to gank (or Alliance). Maybe there are no morals to be found in video games at all.

    So is it possible to expose a child to video game violence and have them turn out alright?

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    Parents Take Responsibility

    The answer to the question is really a resounding yes. It's really a no brainer; can children exposed to a computer and the internet be functioning people in the real world as well as online? Yes! So what's the difference between say me and some kid who has anger issues after playing a game?

    Personally, I say parents. scared dad 

    Put the pitchforks down, I can explain. I understand that being a parent, whether single or in a two parent home, is difficult, especially with the demands of works and other obligations. However, more and more kids are seemingly being babysat by the Xbox 360 or by the PC. And maybe my age is showing when I say that, despite seeing a variety of movies and TV shows that were probably not at all appropriate for me to see at the age of seven, I pretty much knew the difference between what was real and what was fake.

    I clearly remember the outrage some parents had over Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers, how they were promoting violence with their cartoonish ways and fighting that didn't even look real (from Power Rangers, that is). Sadly out of all the fans from both shows, it was kids who didn't know the difference were the poster children for violence. Please remind me, isn't it the job of the parent to explain the difference between stuff like Donatello knocking out BeBop with his bo vs. you doing it to your little brother with the mop handle?

    Just saying.

    And that's a major bottom line when it comes to video games too. Parenting is hard, so why make it worse by giving your child something they shouldn't have?

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    How a Parent Helps

    Now that you think I am the be all, end all expert on this - which I'm not, by the way - just exactly how does a parent go about making sure their child isn't exposed to violence and sexual stuff and the like? Very simply -

    Research.

    If you are my age and you have children, you must remember when there was no Google. And there was such a time. So as long as Google has...well, everything you could possibly find, Google the name of the game your child is hurting to play. Chances are, you've got a computer at home or you have a smartphone and unless you've been living under a rock, you probably have Google as your search page already. It really doesn't take much, honest!

    But it doesn't stop there, of course not. Along with knowing what the heck this World of Warcraft game is (assuming you don't play yourself), you have to know your child. Children mature at different rates and only they and their parents know at what age is appropriate for them to play certain games. With that said, not a good idea to get your seven year old a game intended for a seventeen year old. Questions will inevitably come up and unless you are willing, ready, and able to answer them at that moment, save yourself the hassle.

    But it's the same thing with television or movies; if you wouldn't let your eight year watch Family Guy or South Park, why would it then be appropriate to let them play BioShock?

    Set limits! I remember when homework had to be done before I could even watch TV and I did have a time limit when I did until I was old enough to set my own limit. Kids still need boundaries, even if they moan about it. Games, TV, computer...those should be incentivtes; things that are rewarded when chores are done, homework is done, etc or taken away for bad grades and what not. Maybe I watched too much classic TV as a kid, but I can't be the only one.

    The moral of the story is this - there is violence everywhere in this world. It's a sad reality and pinning it on just one thing doesn't work. Do violent video games make an impression on children? Yes, but so do violent movies, TV shows, music, the news, friends, parents, family, etc. As a parent, YOU need to be responsible for your child and knowing about them and what they are playing goes towards that. As a fellow gamer, you should know what's good for them and what's not, so don't hesitate to go in the direction of a 'no' sometimes.

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