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roche12
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06 Feb 2010, 4:07 am

So my son is only a year old but my wife and I are trying to decide when or if he should ever play violent video games.

We grew up playing games that the game nazis call violent but really they arn't. They are so fake that you can't say that it would give you the idea to shoot a real human or whatever because that doesnt look anything like a human. New games, they look real. They show emotion, talk, and even act in a human like manner. Even then I would not have been changed by it, my wife doesnt feel she would have been either.

So there is a few questions. Are all kids negatively effected by violent games or just some of them? Is it bad parenting causing the problem or do parents have no effect? If it does effect children, what age does it become safe?

Personally I want to say that games have no effect on children. That some children are just naturally pron to do violent things and nothing you say or do will prevent that. My wife and I followed the path that people now say should have made us very violent or desencitized, but neither of us want to do harm to any animal so I can't really believe that.

I see more and more evidence that a large part of who we are is in our genetics and nothing anyone says or does will change that part of us. I just have to wonder if violence is in the cannot be changed part or not.

What do you all think? Would/Do you let kids play violent games? If so what age? If not, what is to violent?



Keith
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06 Feb 2010, 4:11 am

It's best to start simple. Fun games that entertain. Sometimes it may be worth playing the games yourself to see if you think it will be suitable for your child. I've noticed this is usually recommended. But not many people seem to do.

An autistic child may prefer a game with visuals to help with imagination, but an NT child could probably let the imagination do most of the work. Like in the old days where lines were anything you wanted them to be

I've seen some gameplay on violent games on the internet which were M or BBFC18 and over the internet you can hear what sound like children who have no concept of how to play the game and scream when no-one responds.

youtube can be a viable source if you search the right videos



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06 Feb 2010, 7:25 am

In my opinion you should keep the violent games away from your child especialy at early age. Educational games like Sim City and Civilization are ok!

I read studies about the adverse effects these games can have on people. For eg. Lt.Colonel Grossman from http://www.killology.com/ says that violent video games teach the same kind of response they use in soldiers in military training, that is shot people without thinking. Studies report that while playing these violent games your brain is actually working very little due the intense action complex reasoning can't take place (that takes time) and you are conditioned on acting of reflex to simule, rather than thinking your action. According to Lt.Colonel Grossman that is the same kind of conditioning they use in military training since soldiers in combat can't take the luxury of thinking if their actions are right or wrong but have to act on instinct. According to the author teaching this to soldiers has risen the number of kills the soldiers make in war. Indeed video games have also been used in the training of military and police personal. Do you remember "Duck Hunt" the US army bought thousand of them replaced the plastic pistol for a M-16 and renamed it "Multipurpose Arcade Combat Simulator" (MACS) and used to training troops.

Based on this some author found that playing violent videogames was correlated with increased acts of violence, and other adversities like increased inattention and others...

Oh my views are always polemic! :)



Tach
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06 Feb 2010, 10:53 am

Until they turn 13, keep them to stuff like SimCity and Civilization and possibly flight simulators. Be warned that if you have them play violent games at under 13, you may get scared by the pictures they draw. I played an old game called Delta Force when I was 8, and when I was 10 I drew a picture of looking through a sniper scope at a terrorist, then again my reading books like Rainbow Six when I was young may not have helped much ether.

One thing to note though, when they turn 13, it should be noted that you can start letting them play M rated games depending on the SUBJECT MATTER at around 13-14. An example is that my parents let me play Rainbow Six Raven Shield well before I was 17 because it was about Counter-Terrorism. On the other hand, I had to buy GTA:SA at 17 when I was first able to buy M rated games myself, and in a way, I'm glad it went that way. Some games to avoid around children though include GTA, S.T.A.L.K.E.R., Silent Hill, Resident Evil, and FEAR. The first one because it's GTA. The rest of them because they will give people nightmares from time to time.


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VincentVanJones
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06 Feb 2010, 2:52 pm

Tach wrote:
Until they turn 13, keep them to stuff like SimCity and Civilization and possibly flight simulators. Be warned that if you have them play violent games at under 13, you may get scared by the pictures they draw. I played an old game called Delta Force when I was 8, and when I was 10 I drew a picture of looking through a sniper scope at a terrorist, then again my reading books like Rainbow Six when I was young may not have helped much ether.

One thing to note though, when they turn 13, it should be noted that you can start letting them play M rated games depending on the SUBJECT MATTER at around 13-14. An example is that my parents let me play Rainbow Six Raven Shield well before I was 17 because it was about Counter-Terrorism. On the other hand, I had to buy GTA:SA at 17 when I was first able to buy M rated games myself, and in a way, I'm glad it went that way. Some games to avoid around children though include GTA, S.T.A.L.K.E.R., Silent Hill, Resident Evil, and FEAR. The first one because it's GTA. The rest of them because they will give people nightmares from time to time.


100% agreed. When I was 13-15 I played games like Rainbow Six Rogue Spear (though that was T) and Tomb Raider. I mean it depends on the type of violence really. My folks never let me touch GTA (glad for that in retrospect) when I was younger. I mean until he's older (13+) keep him on T or E only. The first "M" game I played was the original doom back when I was like 7 or 8. Even though now we consider that tame for a kid of that age with Aspergers it can be a bit much.

Silent Hill and the RE series and such should be avoided until hes much older. They are violent, yes, but they will also screw his mind up if he plays them too young.

However he IS only one years old, and by the time he is 13 who knows what will be out. 12 years from now everything we play now will be considered old school (kind of funny since I am only 18).

See what happens with time. And NEVER give in to "My friends play it so why can't I"



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06 Feb 2010, 11:07 pm

Most important thing: Make sure your kid knows the difference between real life and fiction, and that actions in real life have real consequences. As long as your kid knows that, it shouldn't be a problem. I sometimes enjoy both violent games and violent movies (not specifically for the violence, but violence can be a useful plot device and a powerful metaphor if used right), and I have to some extent since before my teen years (I watched some violent cartoons as a small child as well). I'm a pacifist in real life, and have been for all my life. It's all about knowing the difference. It was very good for me to be aware that santa clause isn't real, that tom & jerry are just rapid successions of drawings on clear plastic over paintings, and that no person in real life is an extra, everyone has a mind and a story, and mean people are usually mean because they're unhappy, not because they're evil and deserve to be shot with a minigun or split with a chainsaw.


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Wedge
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07 Feb 2010, 7:42 am

That is an important point understanding what is real and not. Children under six or seven years old have great difficulty differentiating between what is fantasy and reality. Studies observed that two-and three-year-olds ran to get a paper towel to clean up an egg they saw break on television and another one found that most four years old interviewed thought Bugs Bunny were real. Their inability of differentiate what is real from what is not is one of the reasons children that age are not used as witnesses on court. The violence they see on cartoons an TV shows are real for them. That is why I think they should not be exposed to violent content at that age.



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07 Feb 2010, 11:29 am

Wedge wrote:
That is an important point understanding what is real and not. Children under six or seven years old have great difficulty differentiating between what is fantasy and reality. Studies observed that two-and three-year-olds ran to get a paper towel to clean up an egg they saw break on television and another one found that most four years old interviewed thought Bugs Bunny were real. Their inability of differentiate what is real from what is not is one of the reasons children that age are not used as witnesses on court. The violence they see on cartoons an TV shows are real for them. That is why I think they should not be exposed to violent content at that age.

I would think it's up to the parents to teach their children that for example bugs bunny isn't real. Immediately when introducing children to cartoons, there should be an explanation of what cartoons are and how they are made.


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pat2rome
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07 Feb 2010, 11:36 am

Just putting this out here: when I was four, I walked into a room where Alien was playing on the TV. I saw the scene where the facehugger alien attacks the guy. I knew that wasn't real, and that it was just a movie (sure, it gave me a nightmare that I remember 15 years later, but all the same I knew it was fiction).


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08 Feb 2010, 12:11 pm

Id say it really depends. Video games really didnt start their trek towards realism until 1993 (Wolfenstein), and I was already 13 by that point. However, I have 2 younger brothers and we all pretty much played the same things and our parents made sure we knew what was real and what wasnt . . . that is the best thing to do. As long and you participate in your child's life, things should run smoothly. Dont be too forceful though . . . my parents did that with the whole forcing educational crap and it was an insult to my brothers and I (since we were A/B students in school anyway, and 90% of the educational games are too far below our level, or most anyone's for that matter). As for the more horror oriented stuff, I cant comment . . . i was afraid of the Rancor from Star Wars VI until i was 16 :oops: (wasnt until i saw one of those "Behind the Scenes" series that i got over it).



leschevalsroses
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08 Feb 2010, 12:20 pm

Wedge wrote:
That is an important point understanding what is real and not. Children under six or seven years old have great difficulty differentiating between what is fantasy and reality. Studies observed that two-and three-year-olds ran to get a paper towel to clean up an egg they saw break on television and another one found that most four years old interviewed thought Bugs Bunny were real. Their inability of differentiate what is real from what is not is one of the reasons children that age are not used as witnesses on court. The violence they see on cartoons an TV shows are real for them. That is why I think they should not be exposed to violent content at that age.


I agree. Kids are very impressionable when they are young. If they spend hours a day playing violent video games, they may think it's normal to be violent in real life.

My thirteen year old brother listens to violent rap music all day long, and calls his sisters not-so-nice names because that's what his role models do and that's what he hears all day long. And it kind of makes sense, I mean why is what the people do on TV or say in music acceptable? Why is it "normal" to have interest in being violent in a video game? It doesn't really makes sense to me and I'm an adult.

Personally if it were my kids, I wouldn't let them play violent video games until they were....15? And if they came to me with the interest of playing such games I would have a loooong conversation about the violence and why it's not okay to do such things in real life. I think this is more important than not letting them play it at all.



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08 Feb 2010, 12:30 pm

Vince wrote:
Wedge wrote:
That is an important point understanding what is real and not. Children under six or seven years old have great difficulty differentiating between what is fantasy and reality. Studies observed that two-and three-year-olds ran to get a paper towel to clean up an egg they saw break on television and another one found that most four years old interviewed thought Bugs Bunny were real. Their inability of differentiate what is real from what is not is one of the reasons children that age are not used as witnesses on court. The violence they see on cartoons an TV shows are real for them. That is why I think they should not be exposed to violent content at that age.

I would think it's up to the parents to teach their children that for example bugs bunny isn't real. Immediately when introducing children to cartoons, there should be an explanation of what cartoons are and how they are made.


It doesn't work that way. You can explain it to them but in their psyche, they still just witnessed real violence. It's developmental, they can't conceptualize fantasy vs. reality. Read about it - the jury isn't "out" on this, it's well established. So, individual data points aside - Wedge is absolutely correct here.


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Vince
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08 Feb 2010, 1:19 pm

BetsyRath wrote:
It doesn't work that way. You can explain it to them but in their psyche, they still just witnessed real violence. It's developmental, they can't conceptualize fantasy vs. reality. Read about it - the jury isn't "out" on this, it's well established. So, individual data points aside - Wedge is absolutely correct here.

Sure, there's obviously an age too young to even watch for example Tom & Jerry, but by the age of four or so, it should be fine, provided the parents are around to tell the child it's all fake and the world doesn't work on the parameters of cartoon slapstick comedy. I know this from personal experience, having been a child myself.


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BetsyRath
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08 Feb 2010, 1:46 pm

Vince wrote:
BetsyRath wrote:
It doesn't work that way. You can explain it to them but in their psyche, they still just witnessed real violence. It's developmental, they can't conceptualize fantasy vs. reality. Read about it - the jury isn't "out" on this, it's well established. So, individual data points aside - Wedge is absolutely correct here.

Sure, there's obviously an age too young to even watch for example Tom & Jerry, but by the age of four or so, it should be fine, provided the parents are around to tell the child it's all fake and the world doesn't work on the parameters of cartoon slapstick comedy. I know this from personal experience, having been a child myself.


You are only one data point unto yourself, however. So, while highly relevant to your own life - your experience remains completely irrelevant to the science in general.


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08 Feb 2010, 1:49 pm

It depends far more on the child than anything else. On their own intelligence level, what they believe, what they know to be fake and whatnot. For example my brother very luckily didn't play many violent games until he was over 10. And a good thing to, as he would've been influenced heavily by them.

I, on the other hand, knew what death, violence and rape were long before any video games even had those concepts. Wolfenstein was the first really realistic game that came out and I was 6 when it did. And because of the type of child I was and what I already knew and could put into context, I was well aware of how fake it was, (and how much fun).

That said, use your judgement as to whether you believe your child can fully differentiate. There is no magical age number. It's a maturity and intellect thing. Merely knowing what death and violence are doesn't mean they understand it.

I have played violent video games since 93. I'm 22. I've been in a single fist fight in my life and that was with my brother (actually, he only threw one punch, I didn't). I've never even gotten into a shouting match before. I'm very very well aware of how destructive violence and anger can be, taught from all things, books. It should be very easy for you as parents to teach your child what it is and how bad it can be.

Bottom line, use your judgement as to when you think your child can handle it, and above all, TEACH them about it. Don't fear the subject.


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08 Feb 2010, 9:42 pm

I did a research paper once on violent video games and I came to the conclusion that it was a logical fallacy that violent video games cause violent behavior. Children get their morals and learn how to act properly from instruction by their parents. A video game or TV is not a parent. Therefore it is bad parenting that causes that kind of behavior, not video games, although in situations where the parent-child relationship is significantly deteriorated, violent games and TV can be an influence. The parents are supposed to be the emergency brakes that keep that from happening long before it ever becomes a problem.

Take Columbine, for instance. The kids' parents didn't even notice their teenagers were building bombs and collecting guns. That is just not normal. And when one of the shooter's mothers heard there were kids killed at her son's school, instead of driving up and freaking out looking for her kid, she stayed at home. Didn't care enough about him to drive up or get a ride or anything.

Another conclusion I came to is that co-viewing helps the child understand that the games and TV are just fantasy. The parents sit in and occasionally ask questions like, "Okay, if this happened in real life, what do you think would happen?" The child will respond, "Oh, the character would go to jail." "Is this an acceptable way to behave?" "No." "What could the boy have done instead of hitting the girl?" "He could have told her she hurt his feelings." That sort of thing. When I was researching it I realized this was exactly what my parents did when I was a child. I was never violent. I'm pretty much a pacifist, into Gandhi and all that, but I love violent movies. I play violent games occasionally too. I can watch Pulp Fiction and then go and hand a homeless person a five dollar bill. It just does not cause violent or antisocial behavior. The media started this whole debate for ratings so they could talk in important voices and say, "Is your child safe? Is Resident Evil infecting his brain?" It all depends on what you think is appropriate and what values you impress upon him. So don't worry.