Gaming and Violence – A New Look at an Old Problem

In the wake of the tragic school shootings at schools around the country, many parents are just now becoming aware of a long-running debate – is gaming potentially dangerous to children? Way back in 1976, a video game known as “Death Race” was the first victim of outraged parents. Many people were so incensed at the violence in this game that they actually burned them in the streets and parking lots. Needless to say, the manufacturers quit making this game. Over the years, as each new school shooting manifested, Congressional panels and parent’s groups have repeatedly reviewed the potential dangers associated with video games. The results have been somewhat troubling.

 

The American Psychological Institute released a statement to check the amount of violence allowed in video games like Grand Theft Auto, stating that it increased the likelihood of violence towards females. Proponents of the video game industry cite the lack of evidence showing that these video games are the root cause of an increase in violence. In fact, there are compelling statistics to indicate that this might be the case. As the rate of video game use has increased – almost 300 million dollars was spent on video games in America alone in 2009 –  the actual rate of violence has decreased by over 40%.

 

While each side of this controversial issue seems to have the facts to back up their claims either for or against gaming, there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer as to whether or not violent video games cause violent behavior in children. However, there is definite agreement that continued long-term use of a gaming system can have detrimental effects. Statistics show that the average youth spends about 18 hours a week on their gaming system. Some of the negative effects that have been reported include:

 

  • Lower grade point average
  • Shorter attention span
  • Greater chance of obesity

 

As with any activity, it is important for the parents and the child’s to discuss appropriate limits on the amount of time spent in front of the television. Depending on the age of your child, it is recommended that you set a strict time frame in which they can spend on their system and no more. It will be up to you to choose this time frame for what you feel is appropriate. Talk with your entire family about your concerns and make sure everyone gets their say.

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