Do Video Games Fuel Anger?
Tony was a typical fifth grader. He liked sports more than schoolwork, but did fine in his class. After soccer practice and homework, he was allowed to play video games. He learned about the video games the sixth graders were playing and before long, he was playing them too. Even though the rating of the game was for 17 year olds, all of his classmates were playing so his parents figured it was all right.
But after a few months, his parents noticed a change in Tony. His teacher called because he was fighting with another boy in the class and being disrespectful to her. At home, he had little patience for his little sister and would lash out often. If his parents asked him what was wrong, it would make him angrier.
Have you ever experienced something similar in your home?
When a child is spending too much time playing video games (especially if they are playing violent games), you will often see the signs that Tony exhibited. A child will become grumpy, easily angered, impatient, and argumentative.
Just like adults, children need to rest and recharge. That happens best in outdoor play, settling down with a good book, or hugging and talking to a parent.
Not playing video games…and especially not violent ones.
Relaxation doesn’t occur while holding a screen, yet that is how so many children are spending all their free time. Without downtime and visual relaxation, children are more restless and prone to anger. As I heard Dr. Gary Chapman once say, “There’s a place in a child’s life for a bucket of water and stick. And for him or her just to turn that stick around and around.”
Where’s the downtime in your child’s world?
Screen worlds emphasize speed so a child raised on screens has little patience in real life. As a result, when that child has to wait for something, his impatience can quickly morph into frustration and anger.
Many people would like to think that violence in video games, movies, and television do not affect children. The reality is your child is affected by everything he interfaces with. Screen violence is especially dangerous because it does not teach a child how to properly relate to people. First person shooter video games and television dramas teach a child how to blow someone up; how to destroy someone.
You may think, “Well, it’s just a game” or “It’s on television; it’s not real life.” But research shows that children who spend a great deal of time watching violent movies and video games are far more likely to be involved in violence themselves. More than 1000 scientific studies and reviews show that significant exposure to media violence increases the risk of aggressive behavior, desensitizes them to violence, and makes them believe the world is a meaner and scarier place than it is.
Video games are especially dangerous because a child is not passively watching a violent act. He or she is participating in it. The more a child is involved, the more he or she will get out of the experience. Games also create a system of reinforcement. A child is rewarded for destructive behaviors again and again.
If your child plays a violent game or two, it may have little effect. But if your children play a few games, several days a week, for a period of years, they will not emerge unaffected. There is a correlation between anger and onscreen violence.
This is one area we need to give extreme guidance to our children regarding what they are allowed to watch. If you realize your child is playing video games that are not healthy, cut back on that video game time and make it a goal to eliminate violent video games altogether. Replace those video games with more creative ones that do not involve violence, and seek out friends who like to do things besides gaming.
Have you noticed any correlation between anger/aggression and screen time in your child?
This makes me so sad. Everyone wants to blame the video games. I would love to see the sources on these 1000+ “scientific” studies. How in the world can someone blame an electronic for the behavior of their child. If you give your child a video game that is rated above their maturity, you are at fault. How about we give all the 16 year olds cars and licenses without any instruction. Let’s have them do it all on their own. No one sitting next to them to help them or calm them down.. NO! That’s a terrible idea!.. It’s the same with video games. They are not yet prepared for this. As a parent, how many times have you sat next to your child and watched what they were playing? How many times have they been without supervision? Video games are VERY difficult. They test your hand/eye coordination, problem solving, second to second assessment, reaction time, and many more.. But my personal favorite is patience. Video games do not teach impatience. In fact, video games test the patience that a person already has. If a child is becoming impatient and frustrated, maybe it’s time to help them and teach them how to work through their problems. No, instead you take the problem away and don’t take any responsibility of the situation. They have now learned that if something upsets them they should get mad at it and then get it away from themselves… Because that is very healthy. Now, as for the violence.. There are very few video games that are so violent they could actually cause a child to become more aggressive in the real world.. Those games are rated WAY above their age level and for good reason. Mainly because it’s not just violence but also mature language or references and gore. Would you allow a 5th grader to watch a rated R movie? No, so why would you let them play a rated M game? Now some might say well I have watched the movie so I know it’s ok… Have you played or watched the video game? Probably not, otherwise you would know better. Then there are games that have other players, competitive multiplayer or player vs. player. Other players are people you do not know, so who know what’s going to come out of their mouth. You can fix this with mute, block, or report. But a child will not do this, and how is a parent supposed to know if they are not active in that part of their children’s lives? Many video games allow now come with a special setting that turns off the GORE, this can usually be found through settings from the main menu. Lastly, violence is fun. You can’t be a hero without struggle.. The more the struggle the better the hero. And what child doesn’t dream about being the biggest hero of them all?
Thank you for your thoughtful comment and perspective.
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