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Does Playing Video Games Lead to Violent Behaviour?

I am a mum to two boys who like to play video games. With a husband that works in the video games industry games have been a huge part of my life for a long time. As my boys have grown I've seen them move from simple building block games to far more complicated games like Fortnite or Rainbow Six Seige. So, with two boys at game playing age do I think playing video games leads to violent behaviour? The answer is not necessarily simple.



Across the Pond



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In America every time there's a school shooting or a child guns down someone else many people speak out against video games. The perpetrator is usually said to have played some violent video game and that's why they went out to shoot people. Or they 'trained' using the game. I have to say when I read things like that I roll my eyes. I don't think for a second that simply playing video games can make someone decide to go out and shoot people. It's far more complicated than that, and while there is some evidence that playing violent video games can make you more aggressive it is very small - as suggested in this article entitled Do Violent Video Games Lead To Violence?



At Home


Okay, so here in the UK we don't have issues with children getting hold of guns (usually) so shootings in schools or children gunning down people is not something you hear about. Yet video games are still blamed for any violence displayed by children. It seems that everyone believes video games make our children violent.





Encourage and support your kids because children are apt to live up to what you believe of them.

Lady Bird Johnson





Video games and violent behaviour


Like I said, I have two boys who play video games and the games they like to play vary. Rainbow Six Siege is a video game with somewhat realistic graphics where you work in a team against another team and you have to shoot or 'kill' the other team members in order to win the game. Fortnite is a more cartoony style game but the aim is similar - to kill all other players (usually 100 in one game) to be the overall winner. These two games are very different, in the first you see blood spurt from other players when you hit them and the characters shriek or make a noise when they're shot but in Fortnite there's no blood or shrieks, your character simply disappears expelling your weapons on the floor.


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Fortnite and Rainbow Six Siege are just two examples of video games that could be pointed to when stating that video games make children more violent, but there are many more games too. In my experience if your children start to display violent behaviour it's time to stop them playing those games until they can realise it is just a game and it should not change their behaviour.



A Parent's Responsibility


When you have children you take on the responsibility of raising that child, teaching them how to behave, teaching manners and courtesy, and when necessary controlling what your child does that changes their behaviour. If and when your child starts playing video games it is your responsibility to monitor their play and if their behaviour changes you have to step in.

My boys have rules to follow when they're playing and they know if they lose their temper with the game or start yelling at anyone else in the room it's time to put the game off. I do not let my boys play games until they lose their temper and if they do get to that point and take it out on anyone else I take the game away for a time. Usually a day or two but in the past I have taken games away for a week or more because I believe it is my responsibility to teach my children how to behave.



Video games can be GOOD for your children


For a long time now I have held the strong view that video games can be good for your children. Yes, sometimes they lead to your children yelling or throwing controllers (remember the week-long ban on games?) but in the long run video games these days are a great way for your children to socialise outside of school. 





Few adults realise what a huge force video games have become in children's lives.

David Sheff





Given current circumstances (COVID-19 lockdown) it's even more important that your children socialise when they can, albeit virtually. My boys have both stayed in touch with friends via video calls and talking to them while playing their video games which means they're less stressed out with the whole situation. Having a chance to see their friends, even if it's via a video call is far better than missing them and having no contact for weeks on end. They're also able to chat about something they have in common - namely the game they're playing, which means they're more likely to chat for longer. Unlike old-style games that we used to play as kids (think Mario and Donkey Kong) video games now are more social and children use them as a way to socialise. They encourage children to talk more, which helps them develop their communication skills as well as helping them plan strategies with their friends.



Everything in Moderation


Like most things in life you have to enjoy things in moderation and that includes video games. When my boys play for extended periods their behaviour suffers and I have to make them have some time away from the games. As a parent I set time limits on their gameplay, I make them have time away from games, and I punish bad behaviour. 

I think video games these days are a great way for children to socialise and find common ground with people they might not always be friends with in school. They're a positive influence on lives when set rules are in place and followed.  So for me, no, playing video games does not lead to violent behaviour.



Do you think playing video games leads to violent behaviour?

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