For years, parents have worried that violent video games could be a problem for teens. Some people think that video games promote criminal violence in young people. While possible, recent research did not find enough evidence to show a link to criminal violence. There was, however, a clear link to aggressive behavior.
Aggressive behavior is a physical or verbal act that is meant to harm someone. The more violence a teen views on TV, in the movies, or in video games, the more likely he or she is to be aggressive. Exposure to violence can impact a teen’s social development as well. Teens who see violent acts show less empathy and they are less sensitive to aggression in others.
Are you worried about the influence video games are having on your son or daughter? If yes, the first step is to talk to your teen about your concerns. Talk about the age ratings for the games your teen is playing, how much time they spend playing video games, and where they play them.
Almost all video games have an age rating, with more violent games rated mature (for an adult audience). If your teen is playing adult video games, consider taking the games away. Your teen is probably not mature enough to play video games that are meant for adults.
Next, how much time does your son or daughter spend playing video games? If the answer is 15 or more hours per week, it’s time to cut back. When played for hours on end, video games take too much time away from school and other activities. Long gaming sessions can also cause physical problems like headaches, eye strain, and carpal tunnel syndrome. For these reasons, it’s best to limit gaming to 1-3 hours per day.
Lastly, where is your teen playing video games? Try to keep media out of private spaces, such as your teen’s bedroom. Instead, make a rule that video games need to be played where you can see what is going on. And consider using parental controls to limit game access and screen time. Free parental controls are available from both Apple and Microsoft, for devices like your iPhone or Xbox.
For more information on parental controls and how to use them, visit:
BeWell staff members are also here to help. BeWell staff are trained on a wide range of topics, including teens and technology, and they would be happy to help you manage your teen’s video game use. By working with people who can support you and by setting limits, you can address the impact of violent video games and put your son or daughter on the right path.
American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2015/08/violent-video-games.aspx