Color & Control:

Playing with violence?

Gaming: The good, the bad and the not so ugly

With 3.6 billion people of all ages playing video games worldwide. This constantly evolving source of entertainment has become part of everyday life in many households. 

In Canada 23 million are gamers with 89 percent of all children and teens claiming to play regularly. 

Many concerned parents worry about their youngsters online safety, the influence of video games on a variety of behaviours and their potential to be addictive. Depending on the game, experts suggest there’s often exposure to violence, negative gender and racial stereotypes, make light of sexual exploitation, and in young children they have been shown to influence things like language and social understanding. Children and adolescence’s interest in gaming has been shown to lead to self-isolation, unhealthy routines and sleep exhaustion. Worst of all, there is the scary reality of a child connecting with one or more of the estimated 500,000 online predators who are actively trying to groom and manipulate vulnerable youngsters each day. 

Some multiplayer games socially unite friends and family and create healthy peer competition. They are educational, motivational and entertainment-based. And, under the right circumstances, they can help kids gain cognitive skills like hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, focus and the ability to filter out irrelevant information. Pro-social ‘helping behaviors’, voluntary actions intended to help others regardless of a reward, are also found in the story-lines of games—sharing food or information, helping someone tie their shoes, or sending donations to a cause or charity. And, as far as teaching violent tendencies…a bit of good news…

A recent 3,000 participant study from the University of York however, showed that there may be no connection to violence in video games translates to real life. In addition, when the increase in violent game purchases happens a decrease in the juvenile crime rate is seen. 

When we choose video games for our youth and ourselves to always try our best to be role models and think of how this could influence them. We must always be aware of who our children may be playing with and what interactions they may be having over the Internet while playing their games. Always keep safety a first thought but don’t ever lose the fun!

Caroline Tapp-McDougall

Complimentary Issue

If you would like to receive a free digital copy of this magazine enter your email.