Violent Video Games – What Are They Teaching Teens?

Are violent video games teaching teens that violence is an acceptable way to solve conflicts?

Violent Video Games

In a recent study, it was revealed that 97% of US kids age 12-17 play video games.  Further, it is estimated that more than half of all video games on the market today portray some form of violence.

Earlier this year, pediatric groups concluded that violent video games increase aggression.  In a related article, it was pointed out that we, as a nation, need to raise awareness of what young people are seeing online and educate ourselves about how games are shaping people’s thoughts and behavior.

Three years ago, the American Psychology Association created a task force and reported that research now demonstrates a link between violent video game use resulted in increased aggressive behavior and decreased social, emotional, moral behavior and empathy.

Further, the American Academy of Pediatrics has warned that violent media sets poor examples for kids.  “Video games, the Academy noted, should not use human or other living targets or award points for killing, because this teaches children to associate pleasure and success with their ability to cause pain and suffering to others.”  (July 2016 Guideline on Media Violence)

With new and innovative advances in technology platforms, virtual violence in video games plays out in realistic ways that include increased aggression, violent themes such as hand-to-hand combat, wars and shootings, crude language, increased bullying, fighting and violence toward women.

Virtual violence begs the question asked at the beginning of this blog: Are violent video games teaching teens and younger children that violence is an acceptable way to solve conflicts? There is now compelling evidence from research studies indicating that violent video game play does, indeed, increase psychological and physical aggression.

What can parents do?  Parents should take it upon themselves to research the video games their children want to play, take into consideration the rating of the game, and be mindful of possible long-term effects to ensure content is appropriate for the child’s age group.  With numerous educational video games on the market that focus on adventure, skill building, and critical thinking, children should be encouraged to play these games instead of violent games.

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