Violent Games = Violent Kids?

The discussion is back.  Do Violent games make violent kids?  In a recent study by the American Psychological Association the myths (as they perceive them) are refuted.

My concern, as a Wired Mom, is that there does not seem to be any coorelation in the study with the intervention of the family.  How are these young young children having access to violent games?  Is the family “modeling” violent behavior at home?

We know that we are all affected by advertising and by what we see on TV – if it weren’t true then companies would not spend millions of dollars for a 15 – 30 second spot during the Super Bowl.  Studies are clear that these images have an impact.

There is also another tried and true statement – Garbage in Garbage out.  At our house it is important to me that the kids read one classic novel between the vampire books that they seem drawn to.

One point in the APA report that I absolutely do agree with is that often times parents are lulled into a sense of security allowing their kids to play much more violent games if the violence is “fakey” or comic.

But in general the report does not convince me that Violent video games are the source of all evil.  I have way more concerns about the report exactly for the social component that seems to be left out.

In my limited experience I have seen many otherwise violent youth have an outlet for their aggression by taking it out by killing zombies – additionally, those same kids develop confidence and social skills from working together with other people to solve these problems they are facing in the zombie game.

The kids who I have seen who are most violent after playing violent video games are the kids who have troubles they are dealing with in the real world – not just the virtual world.

The key to this report is clear:  We need more parents playing video games with their kids!  And because kids like playing video games with their friends, we need more parents playing video games with their kids and their kids friends.

We are not trying to be our kids “best friend” by playing video games with them.  We are being responsible parents.

Finally, because our kids are exposed to very mature content on TV / movies / Internet much earlier these days we tend to think our kids are much more mature / precocious than ever before.  But it is my opinion that there is a fine balance because kids really do want to be kids and at the same time they seek the approval of their friends and their parents and so lots of times they will pretend to understand alot more about what they are looking at and hearing than they really do.  We need to protect our kids and preserve their childhood with a vigilence that a mother bear provides her cubs.

So YES – violent images affect our kids and ourselves.  There is no doubt.  Is this the ultimate cause for violent behavior?  The jury is still out for me.  For me what there is NO doubt about is the need for more parents to get involved with their kids lives by playing video games.


1 Comment

Filed under Internet Safety, wiredmoms

One response to “Violent Games = Violent Kids?

  1. My first reaction to this is…WOW! Someone else sees that too!
    Because these violent games arent all about killing and shooting and violence. They sometimes are more about trouble shooting trough a level then actually shooting at a digitaly made up criminal! And if you do a co-op game…you learn…(and this is no suprise if it was a game scrable with which you learn to spell)…to Co-op…cooperate…work together to achieve a goal that is set by someone! We have been playing games online our whole live and yes our kids play them too. They have been allowed to play some violent games at a younger age then the box said they could because I destingouish between violence against people and violence against made up humanoids (such as zombies!) And I limit their time on the computer with 1,5 hours a day (used to be 1 hour a day when they where younger)
    Next to that they have a limited time on the tv (1 hour) because its NOT only the games that are filled with violence. Its the whole concept of images these days…I dont know if this is the same over there but…over here when a kid gets somewhat the age of 4 or 5 there almost are no children programs without violence anymore. Sure their fighting “the bad guy” but with karaté with guns with magic…
    We tend to teach our kids to resolve issues between then with words not violence. But ALL they see around them these days is “people” (be it a drawn character in a child series on tv or the games talked about in this particular blog) is if the other person is a bad person (what is the definition of “bad person” for kids?) you can use what ever means you have to “resolve the problem” you have with them.
    I think in this case there is a need for “practise what you preach” in other words we do not only need parents to play games with their kids (and preferably co-op imho) we also need a change in the tv and gaming industrie…we need more games which lets kids develope their coperation skills and thus their social skills! Preferably without pressing the need to use violence to stop “the bad guy”.
    And we need parents to be aware of WHAT their kids are playing! Over here we can’t buy games for young kids that have a rathing which says its for 16 years and older. Before we had that law I saw parents buying grand theft auto (over here rated at 18) for kids as young as 5! SOME common sence is still needed too!
    And I personaly think that its a waste of developement skills to only use them to create shooters like they have today. I dare them to develope games in which you learn stuff without even knowing you do! Learn real things like those social skills. Learn problem solving, learn using stuff you need to use a computer these days…I dont know…their the developers THEY should know! Kids learn trough playing….welll now reverse it and let them play (computer games) to learn!
    I am convinced that this is a better and usefull way to teach kids!
    I have 2 teenage boys and one 2,5 daughter. I have been roaming the shops for games which teach my 2,5 some skills but they are just none excisting! And thats a marked they could fill with all sorts of usefull stuff…from hand eye co-ordination to linking stuff together (tree goos with apple, plate with cup, etc) trough maybe even co-operating with another to achieve things (we all have a computer over here so to also be able to play in a virtual world with my daughter would be fun!)

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