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Violent Video Games

What You Should Know

Video games can be fun, entertaining and sometimes educational. Some games, however, contain violence, sexual themes and strong language. It is important for parents to know what games their children are playing, the rating and content description, and how much time is being spent playing games. The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) has developed a rating system for video games. Ratings and content descriptions are on game boxes. There are 24 different content descriptions – such as animated blood, crude humor, and fantasy violence. Parents should know that it is difficult to fit all content descriptions into the defined categories. Recent studies conducted on the effects of violent video games on children suggest that children can become more aggressive – both verbally and physically, held more pro-violent attitudes, had more hostile personalities, and were less forgiving.

Ten Tips for Parents:

    1. Check game rating and read the description. Rent a game to preview before purchasing. Some major online games have ESRB ratings; others do not. Check out online reviews.
    2. Avoid the “first person shooter,” killographic games. Instead, pick non-lethal games that require the player to come up with strategies and make decisions in a game environment that is more complex than punch, run, and kill.
    3. Limit game playing time. (Recommendation: no more than one hour per day)
    4. Watch for warning signs of video game addiction. Stop obsessive playing before it gets out of control. Encourage your child to play with friends “off line” away from the computer.
    5. Talk with your children about griefers and cyber bullying. Establish house rules of “netiquette” and follow through with consequences if rules are broken.
      Encourage your children to talk to you if they see inappropriate behavior online.
    6. Discuss the content of games and explain why you object to certain games. Remember that children also play video and computer games outside of the home. What are the gaming rules at their friends’ homes?
    7. Set clear house rules around Internet and game use and time. Require that homework and chores be done before playing.
    8. Do Not Put video games or computers in kids’ bedrooms. Place video game consoles and computers where it is easy to monitor.
    9. Meeting online gaming friends requires adult supervision. Your kids may feel quite close to other gamers they meet online. Remind them that these people are still strangers and that it isn’t safe to meet them alone.
    10. Don’t assume that other parents’ judgments on video games will be the same as yours. You may agree on some things, but maybe not here.

The information from this page was reproduced in large part from the Division of Criminal Justice web site.  For the direct link click: DCJS.  Be sure to view the video at the bottom of the “link page”  at the DCJS web site.  The Commissioner of DCJS created this presentation to provide parents with information on video games that will enable them to make an informed decision about the type of games their children play and length of time spent playing them.  Information is provided on the possible effects of video game play, the rating system established by the Entertainment Software Rating Board and safety tips.