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Violent Video Games and Potential Risks for Children Development

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The World Health Organization (WHO), have recently made a decision to classify ‘video game addiction’ as a mental health disorder. Due to video games becoming increasingly popular and due to approximately 91% of children worldwide playing video games, it begs the question, are children imitating behaviors and actions seen in violent video games? A statement has been released by the American Psychological Association, stating that there is a relationship between participation in violent video games and heightened aggression levels, aggressive cognition and a reduction in prosocial behavior empathy (the intent to benefit others). So, what does this mean for parents? Should you be worried about what your children are playing? When does some harmless fun become a potentially dangerous obsession?

It is first important to note what a video game actually is. A video game includes images produced by a computer program which can be electronically manipulated. At first glance, video games might seem like harmless entertainment, however, take a closer look and you will notice that this multi-million-dollar industry has a hidden dark side that all parents should be aware of. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), states that around 80% of video games contain some form of violence. There are several types of violence, but, in-game violence may be for an animated or a comedic effect.

There are two key distinguishing features that video games have: the desire to fit in with society and participants being required to work on an instinctive level, by using their flight or fight responses. The differences between the words ‘drives’ and ‘instincts’ need to be acknowledged. The psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan describes ‘instincts’ as something that comes from the inside of human and ‘drives’ come from others which point individuals in a certain direction.

The popular video game ‘Fortnite’ is free, addictive, violent and children all over the world love it. So, as a parent should you be afraid? A Fortnite frenzy has been sweeping children off their feet and placing them in front of computer screens with over 46 million players worldwide. Fortnite has a ‘Hunger Games’ style and the main goal is to be the last one standing, so it’s either kill or be killed. The game is not harmful in itself but, the effect that it is having on gamers in the real world is the worst impact of them all. With a PEGI rating of 12, Fortnite is ‘not suited for children under the age of twelve due to mild violence’, however, many younger children still have access to this vicious video game. So, are parents the ones to blame for allowing their children to play these horrific video games and allowing their children to be exposed to high levels of violence?

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It is clear that the social environment of children has continually changed over the 20th and 21st century, which is due to the increased use of a variety of different forms of mass media. The consequence that the mass media has on children has a horrendous effect on their well-being, as it plays a significant role in the development of a child’s values, beliefs and behaviors. The exposure of violence amongst children can lead them to imitating these behaviors, therefore, it is important to note that children seem to imitate behavior that is being demonstrated by a model.

The heightened exposure of violence to children is unacceptable, as this positively corresponds with violence and aggression amongst other individuals. Like most video games, exposure of violence to young children can enlist fear and insecurities as key factors that may define the world that they live in. Michael Rutter, a child psychiatrist, states that from personal experience, members of the public who suffer from either ADHD, anxiety and/or depression are the most vulnerable in displaying higher levels of aggressive behavior, however, these levels of aggression are still evident within children who have not been diagnosed with another form of a mental disorder. However, induced screen time can also have many detrimental effects on children as their nervous systems are still developing, therefore chronic stress will occur faster in children compared to adults.

It is strongly recommended that parents need to be informed of the damaging effects that increased exposure to violent video games from a young age has on the development of other mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety. Therefore, the parents of the younger generation need to implement changes into their child’s life now, so mental disorders such as gaming addiction, anxiety and/or depression will not ruin their lives and the lives of future generations.

Moreover, there are techniques that can be put into place to help reduce these aggressive outbursts, such as, the Standard Cognitive Behavioral Treatment. This treatment for aggressive behavior can be utilized to help children remain calm under certain situations and to develop methods to handle intense situations in a more pleasurable manner. Additionally, recently there have been many private clinics that have been put into place to help reduce the amount of time that young children are being exposed to violent video games. However, as this is a controversial topic evident within the media, it is worth mentioning that not all children who play violent video games will turn into mass murderers in the future, and video games are not the only cause of increased aggression levels.

Parents are responsible for the development of their children and they are the ones allowing them to be exposed to these violent video games. So, let’s be the adults in this situation and change the futures of our children by restricting the use of video games and being more aware of the possibility of them inspiring violence. If we turn a blind eye now, maybe we will be the next victims of violent acts.

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Violent Video Games and Potential Risks for Children Development. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from
“Violent Video Games and Potential Risks for Children Development.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
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