Study: Violent video games can interrupt a child’s moral learning

Study: Violent video games can interrupt a child's moral learning

A new study from Simmons College suggests that exposure to violent video games can affect young children’s moral reasoning.

In a recent study published in the 2011 spring/summer edition of the Journal of Children and Media Simmons College Communications Professor Edward T. Vieira found that a child’s perception of right and wrong can be influenced with enough exposure to violent video games, and that in some cases children saw certain acts of violence as acceptable. The tendency was more pronounced amongst boys since boys spent twice as much time playing violent video games as girls.

Getting into the details, the study involved 166 children from 29 different schools in the Boston and southern New Hampshire areas and sought to determine the impact of violent video games on the moral reasoning of young children. All of the children were between the ages of 7 and 15, and 66 percent of the subjects were boys while the remaining and 34 percent were girls.

“Certainly not every child who continues to play violent video games is going to go out and perpetrate a violent act, but the research suggests that children — particularly boys — who are frequently exposed to these violent games are absorbing a sanitized message of ‘no consequences for violence’ from this play behavior,” said Vieira. “The concern arises when children are taking in this message and there is a convergence of other negative environmental factors at the same time, such as poor parental communication and unhealthy peer relationships.”

The study went on to reveal that 71 percent of the video games played by children contained at least some mild violence, while 25 percent of those games played contained intense violence, blood and gore and “many” children below the age of 12 reported playing M-rated games. Furthermore, children who favored a certain type of game would continue to play similar games, be they violent or otherwise.

Of course, games have an ESRB rating for a reason and anything rated M is intended for audiences over the age 17, so you have to wonder why so many minors are being exposed to violent games. If parents don’t want their children being exposed to these types of games, they might want to pay attention to the ratings on the box. The video game industry is doing its part, and it’s up to us to do the rest.

Source: Yahoo! News

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