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Video Games

What do I need to know about video games and kids?
Many video games emphasize autonomous action rather than cooperation, violence over creative conflict resolution, and depict others as aggressive adversaries. It's no wonder that many parents and experts are concerned about what kids learn from these games. On the other hand, video games can teach valuable skills, improve hand-eye coordination and provide enjoyable recreation. Playing video games can affect kids' attention, empathy, aggression, and other traits. It also may be replacing activities that are better for your child's learning and healthy development, such as reading or playing outside.

What is known about how video game play affects kids and youth?

What do families need to know about video game ratings?

Game ratings and reviews can help parents decide what games are right for their kids, but ratings are no substitute for actually playing games to really know what the content is like. Also, many parents think the ratings are too lax. In addition to game ratings, parents can consult video game reviews and watch segments of the game on the Internet—for example, on youtube. This will give parents an idea of what the games are like, without buying the game and playing it.

For kids, restrictive ratings (such as "M for mature audiences 17 and older") and violent content codes (like "this game contains blood and gore") are like magnets that can draw kids to video games with objectionable content [1]. In short, game ratings make video games “forbidden fruits.”

What about violent games?

Where can I find out more?

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[1]Nije Bijvank, M., Konijn, E. A., Bushman, B. J., &  Roelofsma, P. H. M. P. (2009). Age and content labels make video games forbidden fruit for youth. Pediatrics, 123, 870-876.

Compiled by Kyla Boyse, RN.  Reviewed by Brad Bushman, PhD.
Updated August 2010


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