Experts: violent video games can be good for youths and parents

March 20, 2008

Experts: violent video games can be good for youths and parentsWith “researchers” and “experts” all mounting fronts against video games recently, it is refreshing to see researchers who are investigating the other side of things. Though Jack Thompson, experts and the media have very little if anything positive to say about video games, new research shows that video games, even violent FPS video games, can be good for both youths and parents in a myriad of ways.

Dr. Cheryl Olson, researcher and author of a recent book on video game culture, has turned up a few findings that should put smiles on all those video game advocates who aren’t playing Halo as training sessions for shooting up their local middle schools.

First, Olson found that many teenagers who play violent video games such as Halo, Grand Theft Auto and others, can easily distinguish the fantastical realm of video games from real life, reports In fact, many youths recognize that the fabricated violence of a 3rd person shooter should not be replicated in real life, due to the harsh consequences that would follow. One youth was quoted saying:

When I play violent games like (Grand Theft Auto) Vice City, I know it’s a videogame. And I have fun playing it. But I know not to do stuff like that, because I know the consequences that will happen to me if I do that stuff.

Furthermore, teenage gamers recognized that mature video games had language that shouldn’t be used, as it would reflect badly on their parents and themselves; on top of that, many gamers said they didn’t want their younger siblings watching them play mature video games because they didn’t want them to pick up the harsh language used in the game.

That certainly paints a different picture than a group of unruly, unsociable kids only out to kill kill kill. They have the interests of their parents and family at heart, and recognize the differences between simulated reality and the real world.

For developing teenagers, Olson discovered that violent video games:

1. aid in the development of visual-spacial skills

2. can give youths social “status” that comes from playing popular video games; this is a great way for kids with attention disorders to socialize with their fellow schoolmates.

3. can help kids deal with rough days at school – many kids go home after a hard day with classmates or after doing badly on a quiz and can be satisfied by playing games.

Dr. Olson, who is assuredly not riding the wave of anti-video game media, urges parents to sit down and learn the video game lingo like “FPS,” “MMORPG,” and all the rest of those lovely little game-oriented phrases. Olson says parents should fight through the learning disabilities many older people have with video game systems and actually learn to play the games their kids play.

In this way, kids won’t feel like games are the “forbidden fruit” as Olson puts it, and that parents can actually make meaningful connections with their kids through video games.

Olson acknowledges that video games can bring out anti-social tendencies in some youths, and urges parents to simply observe their children; if children begin withdrawing from other activities, substituting gaming for sleep, and spending less time with their friends, parents should then step in and gently redirect their children’s interests to more social activities.

Video games, even violent video games, are not the downfall of modern society. Parents should diligently monitor what games their children play, and instead of withholding FPS games, simply monitor their behaviors; parents can easily connect with their kids through games, and by doing so, they can make sure their little loved ones aren’t developing any real life shooter tendencies.

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