According the American Psychological Association, violent video games can increase children's aggression. Dr. Phil explains, "The number one negative effect is they tend to inappropriately resolve ...
... anxiety by externalizing it. So when kids have anxiety, which they do, instead of soothing themselves, calming themselves, talking about it, expressing it to someone, or even expressing it emotionally by crying, they tend to externalize it. They can attack something, they can kick a wall, they can be mean to a dog or a pet." Additionally, there's an increased frequency of violent responses from children who play these kinds of video games.
Dr. Phil also points out that violent video games don't teach kids moral consequences. "If you shoot somebody in one of these games, you don't go to jail, you don't get penalized in some way — you get extra points!" This doesn't mean that your child will go out into the world and shoot someone. "But they do use more aggressive language, they do use more aggressive images, they have less ability to control their anger and they externalize things in these violent ways. It's absolutely not good," says Dr. Phil.
Furthermore, the American Psychological Association says playing violent games correlates to children being less caring and helpful toward their peers. And these effects happen just as much for non-aggressive children as they do for children who already have aggressive tendencies. Children spend a great deal of time with violent video games at exactly the ages that they should be learning healthy ways to relate to other people and to resolve conflicts peacefully.
And, according to the National Institute on Media and the Family, it's not just a concern when it comes to young children. Teenage brains are in the midst of growth spurts, making teens very impressionable. Just when teens are wiring the circuits for self-control, responsibility and relationships that they will carry with them into adulthood, violent games activate their anger center while dampening the brain's "conscience." And think of the more subtle impact: What do you think the effect is when your kids spend time with violence simulators that glorify gang culture, celebrate brutality, lionize crudeness, and trivialize violence toward women?
How can parents minimize any potential harm? Psychologists have found that when parents limit the amount of time as well as the types of games their children play, children are less likely to show aggressive behaviors. Other research suggests that active parental involvement in children's media usage — including discussing the inappropriateness of violent solutions to real life conflicts, reducing time spent on violent media, and generating alternative nonviolent solutions to problems — all can reduce the impact of media violence on children and youth. If you play video games with your child, Dr. Phil suggests alternative activities that allow you to have more interaction with your child, such as playing a board game together or going for a walk and exploring together How is this bias?
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