Specialists are concerned about the psychological state of children who like playing violent video games. A recent study proved that the more a teenager is used to killing virtual characters, the more dangerous he or she may become in the real world. Parents need to take serious measures to reduce their children’s aggression, psychologists say.
Craig Anderson, a professor of psychology, conducted an extensive research to study the influence, which video games show on the human psyche. The professor has recently completed the analysis of over 130 studies, which psychologists from different countries of the globe conducted to explore the phenomenon of video games. The professor’s work embraced over 130,000 people. Anderson concluded that game violence makes people more aggressive regardless of their age, sex or culture in which they grow. Violence leads to decreased manifestations of empathy and prosocial behavior with kids, the professor said.
"We can now say with utmost confidence that regardless of research method - that is experimental, correlational, or longitudinal - and regardless of the cultures tested in this study [East and West], you get the same effects. And the effects are that exposure to violent video games increases the likelihood of aggressive behavior in both short-term and long-term contexts. Such exposure also increases aggressive thinking and aggressive affect, and decreases prosocial behavior," said Anderson.
Seven other scientists, including prominent researchers of video games - Akiko Shibuya from Keio University (Japan) and Nobuko Ihori from Ochanomizu University (Japan) - took part in the research. The analysis covered the experiments participated by volunteers of different age – from elementary school to college.
"These are not huge effects -- not on the order of joining a gang vs. not joining a gang," said Anderson. "But these effects are also not trivial in size. It is one risk factor for future aggression and other sort of negative outcomes. And it's a risk factor that's easy for an individual parent to deal with -- at least, easier than changing most other known risk factors for aggression and violence, such as poverty or one's genetic structure."
Anderson and his colleagues believe that their extensive scientific data should have a serious influence on the public debate devoted to violence in video games and establish control over their development and distribution.
"From a public policy standpoint, it's time to get off the question of, 'Are there real and serious effects?' That's been answered and answered repeatedly," Anderson said. "It's now time to move on to a more constructive question like, 'How do we make it easier for parents - within the limits of culture, society and law - to provide a healthier childhood for their kids?'"
It goes without saying that it will take a lot of time for the scientific research to affect the law. Will it all be left as it is for now?
The professor believes that parents can do a lot to change the situation and protect their kids from aggressive games.
"Just like your child's diet and the foods you have available for them to eat in the house, you should be able to control the content of the video games they have available to play in your home," he said. "And you should be able to explain to them why certain kinds of games are not allowed in the house -- conveying your own values. You should convey the message that one should always be looking for more constructive solutions to disagreements and conflict,” he said.
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