Are Aggressive Video Games Harmful To Your Kid's Health?
There is no harm in letting children play video games, however, it depends on the game and your child’s age.
As more and more aggressive video games grow in popularity, are parents prepared for the implications these games could bring?
According to a Dartmouth meta-analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), violent video game play by older kids or teenagers is associated with increases in physical aggression over time.
While most researchers agreed that this was the case, others believed the opposite was true.
Dartmouth researchers directed a meta-analysis of 24 studies from around the world between 2010 to 2017 with over 17,000 participants aged from nine to 19-years-old.
It was these studies that examined how aggressive video games affected a child or young person and their potential of exhibiting physical aggression. Physical aggression can be a child hitting someone, fighting or bullying another child, something no parent wants their own child to do.
However, as scary as the above information is, there have been other studies, and some don’t share the same results. According to the Irish Times, a study found no link between the long-term playing of violent video games and changes in empathetic neural responses in children.
The German study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) on long-term players of violent games. Researchers found that they had the same neural response to emotionally provocative images as non-gamers.
While most studies look at the short-term effects of playing aggressive video games, this study examined more of the long-term effects. The studies all shared one major agreement though – that more research is needed, and it could be years before we know the impact on children’s health because of aggressive video games.
Of course, these studies don’t offer peace of mind to parents who are worried about violent or aggressive video games - so what can parents do?
Well, for one, you can follow age guidelines on games and refuse to buy games for your child that are not suitable. Most kids will not take this too kindly and may not be happy that their parents won’t get them their latest “must have” game, but you need to ensure your child is playing games suitable for their age.
Also, supervise your child’s use of video games and try and encourage them to play sports games or fun games instead of violent games. Discuss the problem you have with some aggressive video games and tell your child they will have plenty of time for such games once they are older.
Go with your gut instinct and if you are noticing your child becoming more aggressive or agitated have a look at what they are watching or playing. Lots of kids can be sneaky and hide things from parents. Watch for signs and you and your child will be fine.
Emma Hayes is a thirty-something mum of two girls aged 16 and 10, planting her right into the teenage and tween-age years! Follow her on Twitter at @EmmaHayes25.