Monitor video games, amount of time kids spend playing them
Like most technology, video game technology has changed dramatically. Most parents can remember spending a rainy Saturday afternoon playing Pong or putting their quarters in games like Asteroids or Pac Man at the local video arcade. Today, kids are playing first-person shooter games like Call of Duty and Halo.
First-person shooter games allow the game player to look down the barrel of the gun they are using and actually become the character being portrayed in the game. These games were designed after military combat simulators. During World War II, the U.S. Army discovered that shooting at bull’s eye targets did not properly prepare soldiers for combat. The military’s research found that soldiers were not able to point their weapons at another human being and pull the trigger after practicing on a bull’s eye target. The Army developed pop-up targets shaped like a human being and soldiers’ firing rates went from about 15 percent during WWII to about 95 percent during the Vietnam War. Military and law enforcement agencies have been using computer generated simulators to teach soldiers and officers to shoot accurately at another “human being” who possess a threat. These simulators come with guns that recoil and allow reloading. This same technology is now available to our kids on their home video game systems.
For decades, researchers have been telling us that kids who are exposed to violence on TV and movies become desensitized to other’s feelings and emotions. Newer research indicates kids who play violent video games not only become less sensitive toward others, they are also more likely to be more aggressive when someone makes them angry. Researchers found kids who frequently played violent video games were more likely to act out violently to unintentional provocation such as being bumped into accidentally.
Desensitization and aggressive behavior are not the only negative side effects of violent video games. Other research indicates excessive exposure to violent video games can cause an increase in heart rate, even during rest, which can cause a disruption in sleep patterns. Playing video games too much can also distract kids from school work and because many video games are played alone, kids inhibit their ability to interact socially with others.
Some research indicates playing video games can help increase eye-hand coordination and can help increase the brain’s ability to quickly switch from one task to another. The types of games and the amount of time kids spend playing video games can be the key components to whether or not they experience negative effects. Monitoring the types of games your kids play and the amount of time they spend playing games can help keep our kids safe.
Keeping Our Kids Safe is brought to by the Delaware Police Department and School resource Officer Rod Glazer.