Violent Video Games Too Real for Kids?
an article from ABC Network
During the Cold
War, American children played with spy toys like those on
the television show Man from U.N.C.L.E., and talked to each
other on walkie-talkies.
Today, they play
video games that allow them to blast away at terrorists.
have been embracing home and hearth since the Sept. 11 attacks,
and retailers are reporting that videotapes, televisions
and video games are flying out of stores. But parents are
wondering whether the violent combat and destruction that
are the staples of today's video games are a little too
close to reality for their children.
Some of the video
games allow children to stalk and kill bad guys on the screen,
and even fly a plane into an image of the World Trade Center.
A new game that can be downloaded off the Internet allows
users to take virtual whacks at a cartoon figure of Osama
concerns, some video game manufacturers appear to be backing
away from scenes of violence that used to seem like pure
fantasy, one toy industry expert said.
that the major changes you're going to see in games are
going to be cosmetic in terms of removing images of the
[World Trade Center] towers, but they're also going to be
storyline in terms of focusing on rescue or heroism,"
said toy analyst Chris Byrne.
changing its popular Flight Simulator game, removing depictions
of the twin towers. Activision's yet-to-be released Spiderman
2: Enter Electro is being redesigned for the same reason.
French company Ubi Soft Entertainment postponed its planned
October release of Tom Clancy's Rogue Spear: Black Thorn
to modify the game's content, which originally let players
A Sense of Control?
In the meantime,
some parents say their kids are logging too many hours in
front of the video screen.
children, particularly boys, are playing video games right
now particularly violent and aggressive video games
because they feel out of control. It does give them
a temporary sense of some type of control," said Karen
Binder-Brynes, a psychologist who specializes in post-traumatic
Like many parents,
Binder-Brynes questions whether playing violent games helps
kids vent their fear and anger or just makes them feel worse.
Some children say that the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks have
sapped the fun out of their games.
play the game, then you know it's a game, but having the
same thing happening in the real world makes it so much
worse," said 13-year-old Erico.
Kadeem, 12, agreed.
"Now that there are things like the Sept. 11 attacks
actually going on, basically in my own back yard, it's just
it hits too close to home for me to actually play the game,"
Steven said games could sometimes serve a useful purpose:
"For some people, it's better to play video games,
because if you get angry, you could play video games and
kill some people and like blow off the steam."
said excessive game-playing can create anxiety in children.
"When boys are playing these video games or any aggressive
games, they are in another state of hyperarousal in terms
of their adrenaline. A little of that is not harmful, but
when it becomes too much, it puts them in a state of higher
anxiety, as adrenaline will do."
Rough Play Fuels
America's parenting contributor Ann Pleshette Murphy said
that the video games are not healthy in the context of Sept.
11, and should not serve as catharsis for emotions of fear
that you can get aggressive feelings out of your system
by playing terrorist is bogus," Murphy said. "Playing
something highly aggressive when you're stressed doesn't
get it out of your system, but instead fuels the fire."
On the other
hand, if children are building a house of blocks, then having
rescue workers go in and rescue those inside, it can be
a healthy way to express what they are feeling or thinking
who do play video games, it is more important to monitor
the content than it is to set time limits, Murphy said.
not want them watching the images on TV, so you send them
off to their room to play, but that can actually be bad,"
she said. "You need to look at the quality of the play
and the type of game being played, rather than the time
line although, in general, less is better."
There are warning
signs that children may have gone too far in playing violent
video games, Murphy said. The signs include: behavior about
game play that seems addictive or compulsive; reduced contact
with family or friends; and changes in behavior, eating
and sleeping, and school habits. Play Tips