Are Violent Video Games Affecting Your Teen? What to Do

Video games have been available for several decades now. However, it’s only been in the past 15 years that researchers have become more aware of the effects of these games, especially those that are violent.

Unlike movies and television shows, video games engage teenagers in a completely different way. In order to proceed through the game, the player must pay constant attention to what is going on around them. This type of engagement is much deeper than in the past, as teens are now asked to become a part of the game, a part of the script.

Benefits of Video Games

While you may be visiting this page because you’re worried about the adverse effects of video games, there are actually a few positive aspects of playing. Using the controllers can help improve a teen’s manual dexterity. Many games also improve a teen’s computer literacy. In a world that demands ever-improving technology-based knowledge, computer literacy is an important part of a teen’s education.

The Violent Effect of Video Games

While not all video games are violent, you may wonder if those that are will have a negative impact on your daughter. Studies, such as the 2014 study by Gentile & Anderson show that violent video games can increase aggressive behavior in the long term if violent acts are seen throughout the video game. The repetition of violent acts tends to reinforce learning.

A new 2018 study, however, shows that the video games may not be entirely at fault. The average teen spends up to seven and a half hours a day using some form of media. Many however, don’t do it alone. 42 percent of teens play these games with friends and 34 percent made friends while they played games online.

According to the study, the violence of video games may cause short term aggression, but it’s really the socialization effect, or how their inner circle of friends behave, that solidifies long-term aggression. When friends laugh, sneer, boast, or encourage one another during in-game play, they reinforce the behaviors show on the video game. This can lead to increased aggressive behavior outside of game play.

While this type of behavior is more likely to occur in males, it can occur in females as well.

What to Do

As a parent, there are steps you can take to help prevent violent and aggressive behavior without taking away your teen’s video games. Here are just a few solutions:

  • Pay attention to the ratings of the games your daughter plays. These ratings are displayed on the video game itself. E, for instance, means that it is appropriate for everyone. E-10Plus means that the content is suitable for ages 10 and above. It may contain mild violence or cartoon violence. Video games rated T for teens may contain violence, minimal blood, strong language and crude humor. A rating of M means it is for mature audiences only. These video games contain intense violence, blood, gore, strong language and even sexual content.
  • Monitor the video games as your teen plays them. Being in the room supervising the play lets you see what the game is about as well as how your daughter interacts with her friends.
  • Maintain a balance with your teen’s free time. Make sure she spends more time offline than online.
  • Discuss the game with your teen. Make sure she knows how to maintain the values you have taught her while playing and help her choose to return or discard a game that crosses the line.

Don’t assume that your daughter is going to become violent just because she plays video games. However, if your daughter does exhibit aggressive behavior, consider getting her some help. Regular therapy and a reduction in video game playing can help reduce this type of behavior.

If you’re worried your teen needs additional help and a safe space where she can focus on other areas of life, consider Greenbrier Academy for Girls. Our West Virginia boarding school for girls limits online interaction and can help your daughter focus on healthy engaging activities, including rock climbing, sports, hiking and participation in clubs.

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