Digital Violence (Games) and Children

M.A, Psychology
Clinical psychologist
@Islaah Center for Psychological Wellness

A few days back while shopping I bumped into an old friend. Happy to meet after so many years we decided to spend some time on a cup of coffee. During our conversation she mentioned about her 11 year old son becoming aggressive, intolerant and moody. Up on further enquiring she told that he is engrossed in to violent video games for at least 2-3 hours on daily basis, which exceeds on weekends. Playing video games has become a popular activity for young children. On an average, girls spend more than an hour per day playing video games and boys spend more than two hours. Teens often spend even more time than younger children.

Video games have become very sophisticated and realistic. Some games connect to the internet, which can allow children and adolescents to play games and have discussions with unknown adults and peers. While some games have educational content, many of the most popular games emphasize negative themes and promote- killing of people or animals, substance abuse, criminal behavior, disrespect for law and authority, racial, sexual, and gender stereotypes, foul language and obscene gestures. However, playing age-appropriate games in moderation can be enjoyable and healthy.

Some video games may promote learning, problem solving and help with the development of fine motor skills and coordination. Spending excessive time playing these games can lead to:

    • Poor social skills
    • Lower grades
    • Less exercise and becoming overweight
    • Decreased and poor quality sleep
    • Aggressive thoughts and behaviors

According to the National Center for Health Research, researches have proved that in the long term video games containing violence can desensitize people to seeing aggressive behavior and even affect some one’s ability to feel empathy. The longer the individuals are exposed to violent video games, it is more likely for them to have aggressive behavior, thoughts and feelings.

Earlier this year THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION added “Gaming Disorder” to its official list of mental health conditions. To be diagnosed with the disorder a person needs to meet three criteria – loses self-control over gaming habits, prioritizes gaming over other daily activities, continues playing games despite being aware of negative consequences.

If you are concerned with your child’s gaming habits and your child is having difficulty with mood or behavior consult a Child Psychologist who will help you in this regard.