Does playing violent video games affect children and teens?

Scientific research has shown time and again that children learn from what they see on a screen. If they see violence being rewarded, they are going to learn that being aggressive is a good way to get what they want. This belief can have long term effects on children’s behavior.

Research has shown three effects of media violence:

  • Fear and anxiety - many children become nervous about what they see in the media
  • Desensitization - the more a person sees violence, the less they are shocked by it over time
  • Aggression - children learn that violence is a good way to solve conflicts

These effects apply to seeing violence on TV or in the movies, and to playing with violence in video games. In these games, the player is immersed in the action, practicing the shooting or fighting over and over again until they perfect it.

It is important to remember that it may not matter if the violence in the video game is graphic or real looking. There is some evidence that even "cartoon-y" violence without blood can make children more aggressive. Video games can teach children that violence brings rewards, even without showing guts and gore.

Next: Are there any benefits of playing video games?


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