Child playing video game in field.

Internet & Video Games Can Be Dangerous to Kids

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Concern is spreading over children’s excessive media use such as Internet, violent video games, and online gambling and pornography. Today’s young people grow up in a media-saturated culture.Child playing video game in field.

Ask any 10 or 12 year old about this issue and they will probably not understand why anyone would consider it a problem. After all, today’s kids don’t know any life without an abundance of electronic devices. Electronic stimuli are simply part of the world they were born into.

While there is much concern about the potential damage of all this, there has not been sufficient research in the past. But new vast quantities of research are emerging. We are now learning the risks (and the occasional benefits) of what is going on.

A recent study looked at youngsters aged 10 to 14, to identify the impact of this “new media” on them. (Internet use and gaming is higher for this age than in any other age group.)

The abstract of this article reports that kids who play games where they shoot at people (called first-person shooters) tend to have increased problem behaviors such as aggression and delinquency. Online role-playing games (where the user takes on a fictional identity, such as a hero warrior or the villain, etc) are associated with internal problem behaviors such as withdrawal and anxiety.

These studies also report that parent-child communication about Internet activities can be effective in reducing the related behaviors.

The message is clear. Parents need to know what their kids are doing on the Internet and in the video games they play, and they need to talk about it. And some types of games and Internet activities should probably not be allowed for children to use at all.

Author

Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH is currently an associate research professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he is also associate director of the Institute for Prevention of Addictions, Director of the Center for Prevention Research and Director of the Center for Media Impact Research.