Video Games for Christmas Gifts?

Video Games for Christmas Gifts?

“Congratulations, level 1 is complete! You’ve received 100,000 points, plus a bonus of 10,000 points for your record time! Your new mission is to protect your village. Good luck.”

This statement and ones like it are being heard by children and teenagers all over the world, but what you may not realize as a parent is that in order to complete the next level, your child has to kill 100 virtual soldiers. We as future parents are concerned about this topic of video game content. Even if you are not a parent, it is important to be educated about the effects of violent video games because not only is it something you may have to deal with in the future with your own children, but it can also creep into your own life at any time. If you are able to prevent this virtual violence from entering into your home, you can save yourself and your children a lot of trouble and heartache in the future.

So, how is the content in video games affecting children and families? Many video games portray violence, fighting, and even murder. As children become more involved in these games, the fantasy leaves the virtual world and becomes reality. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that the content of video games negatively affects children, especially those gamers who play violent video games for many hours during the week. Out of a sample consisting of 364 3rd-, 4th-, and 5th-graders, the average amount of time per week playing video games was 16 to 18 hours. As a result, “habitual violent video game play early in the school year predicted later aggression”1 .

The impact that video games has on children is astounding. By playing these violent games, children become desensitized to what is real and what is in the video game. Punching, shooting, beating, and other forms of physical abuse and violence allow a gamer to advance to the next level. This is a reward for those children playing the game- killing one hundred people to move on to the next level. By doing so, children then confuse this viral world of video games with real life where there are consequences, both emotionally and physically, instead of points and rewards.

When comparing the effects of violent video games and violent TV programs, video games are often reported as having a more harmful effect on the “player”. Watching television is a passive interaction where the viewer can sit idly by and observe the violence taking place while a player in a video game is taking an active part in the violence. Because games are based on allowing one to identify with one player and control them, they often view themselves as the character and personally accept the approving praise after killing fellow players only to reinforce that violent behavior. “Some people think that you get your anger out in video games, but studies show that video games increase aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, physiological arousal, and aggressive behavior. Violent games also decrease helping behavior and feelings of empathy for others” 2.

All in, violent video games are desensitizing us and our children from the natural human emotions we were born with, and instead, replacing them with feelings of anger, aggression and neglect towards others. What would a society look like if everyone had this attitude? It would be complete chaos, a real-life video game except you don’t come back to life when killed.

Is there anything good about video games?

 Video games do have some positive aspects; hand-eye coordination being one. However, the content is what makes the negative outweigh the positive. If video games were to change their content to not be so violent, or make it less accessible to those who are not ready for such content, then maybe this epidemic of video games being harmful would end. However, that does not seem like an immediate option.

So, what can we do as parents to regulate what our children (and/or ourselves) view and participate in as far as video games are concerned? Here are some tips and helps provided by Dr. Phil:

1. Understand and utilize the Entertainment Software Ratings Board. Then read beyond the ratings- for example, the casing of the video game, talk to other parents or reviews online

2. Know your child and how he or she responds to different gaming situations

3. Rent before you buy

4. Play the game with your child so you understand the content

5. Talk about what you see and set limits

6. Put the TV and games in a public place 3

We need to take more of an active role, monitoring the content that comes through our television through video games. Exposure to violence through video games is damaging to the physical and emotional well-being of our children. This damage is both immediate and long lasting. Protect your family today from the media that comes into your home. Take a stance and act now to protect your future generation.

About the authors:

Hi! Our names are Tia, Hailey, Christi, and Hayley. We are currently students at Brigham Young University-Idaho. While none of us have any children yet we have a passion for protecting families. We want to spread the word on what people can do to protect their children and prevent harmful things from entering their homes while their children are young. We have personal experience with the negative effects of bad media and we want to spare families the heartache and trials that come with it. Help us let our voice be heard so we can help people protect their families today!

  • An Observer
    Posted at 15:24h, 07 December

    Besides the content, kids “check out” of normal social interactions to play these games, to the detriment of their relationship with family and relatives.

  • Anastasia
    Posted at 17:08h, 07 December

    As I work at a videogame store, here is some information that parents usually should know about games and ratings.

    The ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) is the company in charge of rating both PC and Console games. There are 7 categories that a game can fit into;

    EC = Early Childhood. Very simplistic and easy content. On older games it may carry the designation of KA = Kid to Adult.

    E = Everyone. Suitable for just about every age, may have some minimal cartoon violence like in Bugs Bunny, and very rarely mild language like “damn”.

    E10 = Everyone 10+. Same as E rating, slightly more fantasy/cartoon violence is possible, puzzles are difficult for players under 10 years of age.

    T = Teen. Usually recommended for players over 13. May have suggestive humour, minimal blood, infrequent use of strong language and passing references to alcohol consumption or gambling.

    M = Mature. Content is deemed suitable for players 17 and older. Typically has strong language, intense violence, blatant sexuality/alcohol/drug references. May also have gore, blood and “adult situations”.

    AO = Adult Only. Has prolonged scenes of intense violence, graphic “adult situations”, many references to drug/alcohol use and possible gambling with real currency.

    RP = Rating Pending. Usually only seen in advertisements, previews or promotional supplements. This “rating” will be replaced with the game’s actual designation once the ESRB has finished its review.

    Please note that BOTH new and used games with a M or AO rating are only sold to persons with adequate picture ID…unless you shop at a very unscrupulous/uncaring store. This means that retailers like myself WILL NOT sell a M or AO game to your child unless you’re present with them. (It is very difficult to find an AO game in passing anyway. In my 9 years of videogame retail, I’ve seen an AO game ONCE…and it was a special order.)

    The ratings are located on the game boxes, usually on the right hand side. The front cover will only have the short code, whereas the back will have both the code AND the reasons for the rating. Nowadays, some companies are even putting the short code on the discs/cartridges themselves.

    Good rule of thumb to remember: Nintendo products are usually more “family oriented” with plenty of EC, E and E10 titles. Sony/Playstation and Microsoft/Xbox have an older demographic, and have more T and M titles. While this is not ALWAYS the case, it is a solid generalization to follow if you’re having trouble deciding on a console to buy.

    Hope this helps some parents/guardians out there with their holiday shopping! If anyone has questions, please just post here and I’ll see if I can be of further help. 🙂

  • Anastasia
    Posted at 07:08h, 12 December

    @An Observer

    That’s a good point too, and frankly, I believe if your children are literally “checking out” for extended periods of time on videogames it is a sign of bad parenting.

    Parents go to work on the weekends, or have their own functions to attend…and leave the TV or videogames as a virtual babysitter. Children as young as 9 yrs old have come in my store looking at M rated titles, walking around without any guardian, casually mentioning that they played games the ENTIRE TIME their elders were at work.

    Compare this to my own childhood, where myself and my 3 younger siblings were only allowed 30min every other day on our consoles. If we had been good that week, we were each given 1 full hour each on either (but not both) Saturday and Sunday. Even then, gaming was only to be done early in the morning or late at night…never in the middle of the day! These teachings have stayed with me, even living alone these past 8 yrs. I still only “allow” myself to play my consoles for 2 hours, and only on my days off.

    Is it any surprise that more family oriented parents/guardians are coming to my store looking for card and board games? That our Parent + Child sessions of Dungeons & Dragons have increased 50% in membership in only a year? No, it should not be surprising at all! These are families who know the importance of both fun and togetherness…and are doing a great job of finding activities that do both.

  • lynn
    Posted at 17:33h, 15 December

    The news reports that the shooter in CT was a gamer. I’m sure that there will be an outcry to ban guns…perhaps more importantly we should ban violent games.

  • Anastasia
    Posted at 21:26h, 15 December


    I’d be careful with your argument, it’s a bit of a slippery slope. Many more news reports say that the CT shooter was autistic than “a gamer”…and already Autism Awareness groups and foundations are giving interviews and doing PR control to prevent people from associating autism/asperger’s sufferers with violence, lack of restraint and irrational acts.

    Unfortunately, as “gamers” are a subculture, we have nothing like this. Others already think of us as socially inept, overweight, nerdy/geeky, unhygienic sub-adults who never have relationships, refuse to give up their toys and eat burgers all day while living in our mother’s basement. I’ll admit that *some* gamers do fit parts of these stereotypes. However, 98% of us have families, jobs, pets, bills to pay, loving friendships, school/college to attend, and a home/apartment of our own. We are basically “normal”…except for the fact that we’d rather play D&D, paint miniatures, LARP, or play video games than go shopping, hunt or tinker with cars.

    Now that my ranting is done, my only question to you would be this:

    How would you determine if a video game is “violent”?

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