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Teen Health 411

Are Violent Video Games Really Bad?

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An article in USA Today says "No." Citing research by sociologist Karen Sternheimer, the article suggests that we need to look beyond video games and pay more attention to things like community and family violence, alienation, and a lack of parental involvement. That may be true, but I think it is a complete cop out to ignore the impact of violence in video games because students have less than a 7 in 10 million chance of being killed at school.

Other research suggests that exposure to violent video games may increase angry and hostile feelings and that violent video game exposure may decrease compassionate feelings for others with whom they interact. In order to further understand the negative affects on aggressive behavior your child or adolescent may experience from their exposure to violent media visit the American Psychological Association’s (APA) website called "Adults & Children Together Against Violence." Here are a few of the APA’s recommendations and findings:
  • Violent behavior is learned, often early in a child’s life.
  • Children learn to behave by watching people around them and by observing characters in movies, video games, and television.
  • Violent media increases mean-spirited behavior and may cause fear, mistrust, and fear; including nightmares.
  • Monitor media consumption.
  • Discuss media with children.
  • Increase the public’s awareness regarding the potential impact playing violent video games may have on player’s aggressive behavior as indicated in both short and long term research studies.
  • Parents should use the Entertainment System Rating Board (ESRB)rating system to evaluate media their children would like to watch or purchase.
Resources (on both sides of the argument):
Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked
Common Sense Media
The National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center
We're Talking, Too: Preteen Health

Photo cedit: jonworth

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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