Violence and Video Games

  • There are fast cars, blazing guns, and plenty of sex. Some images are at times so graphic we can’t show them on TV.

    Twelve–year-old T. J. is playing one of his favorite video games- Mortal Kombat.
    The goal, he says simply, is to beat your opponent. “You can do anything,” T.J. says, his fingers frantically manipulating dials and buttons. “Just try to kill him. Like right now I’m attacking this guy with, like, punches and kicks. There are all these special moves that you can use…You attack your opponent….it’ll do more damage to him when you have one of (these) weapons.”

    But how do these images affect you? According to research from Iowa State University, T.J. isn’t just hurting his opponents. Researchers studied more than 1,500 kids and found that the children who played even mildly violent video games became more physically and verbally aggressive. .

    “They’re not just releasing aggression,” says child psychiatrist, Dr. Adolph Casal. “They’re practicing aggression. When we practice something, we get good at it. If we don’t practice something, we don’t get good at it. So spending a considerable amount of time in an aggressive, violent situation on a daily basis, is going to improve our aggression skills.”

    That’s why Gini put restrictions on the games her kids can play, a lesson that her son Ander has learned the hard way.

    “I was playing with a sniper rifle and having fun and I was like, ‘hey mom, guess what? Look what I can do!” says 16-year-old Ander. And his mom said, “Absolutely not.”

    The result? “We had to take the game back the next day,” says Ander, and that his mom’s rule is no violent games. “I agree with her. I think [the rules] are reasonable, and you know, I can understand where she’s coming from.”

    What Do You Think?

    1. What, if any, are the rules in your household regarding video games? Do you agree with those rules? Why or why not?
    2. While technology is certain to change, when you are a parent, what rules and restrictions would you make for your children regarding violent video games?
    3. What do you think is the difference between playing violent video games and seeing violent content in movies, books and television shows? How do those images affect you?
  • Video Overview

    Can the “virtual” violence in video games and other media make kids more aggressive in real life? Do these games help kids release aggression or do they teach them to be aggressive? It’s an old debate and one that a university study has tried to answer.

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