Dear Dr. Walt,
How bad are violent video games for kids? What do studies and statistics show? I don’t want my kids playing them, but I keep hearing from other parents at church that all the other kids in my son’s youth group are playing them.
—Worried about Gaming in Georgia
Dear Appropriately Concerned,
Well-known physicians Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Mike Roizen agree with what most every expert I’ve read have to say: “Violent games harm young, developing brains by fueling aggressive behavior, dulling empathy, and causing sleep problems.” Furthermore, while most parents say they’re pretty sure of what their kids are doing online, 50 percent of kids report having inappropriate-age-rated games (“M” for “mature” and “AO” for “adults only”) among their often-played favorites.
Furthermore, research just published by NEJM Journal Watch shows that “more hours of video gaming were associated with lower verbal IQ,” changes in the brain similar to those seen with drug addiction. In other words, video games can actually hurt children’s brains.
Two tips: I would not let my kids download or play a game without reviewing it. I love the ratings available at Focus on the Family’s website www.pluggedin.com, which also reviews movies TV shows, music, and books. Also, I tell parents who allow their children to play video games to strictly limit the amount of gaming time and, even better, to spend more time together with their kids doing physical activities (which reduces stress and improves impulse control) and volunteering for projects that help (not annihilate) people who are different from you and your kids.
This Q&A will be published in the September 2016 edition of Today’s Christian Living.
© Copyright WLL, INC. 2016. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.