Does violence in games lead to violence in kids? This has been a debate for many years. Same as it is in movies. The Video game industry has a self regulating rating system called ESRB which gives games ratings for (E)veryone, Everyone10+, (T)eens, (M)ature. But few retailers actually restrict the purchase of games of Teen or Mature rating. Wal-Mart being one of the few restricts sales of M rated games to those under 14.
On the console side, Nintendo has by far the fewest overall M rated games while Xbox360 has the most. Both Xbox, the originator of the concept on consoles, and Playstation3 both have parental controls which can be set to restrict the level of game play. They also extend this feature to DVD play as well.
This is all well and good but the question at hand is does playing violent games play a part in the behavioral development of children. I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on TV. But I do have kids and I can provide my own observations of how gaming impacts them.
First I should note that we do not typically allow our kids to play fighting games and no one under the age of 11 in our house is allowed to play or even watch an M rated game. M is might never be able to play in our house.
This decision has come from observing our kids and seeing how their interaction changes immediately after playing any game that involves, hitting, shooting, or destroying. They do become more physical which each other, often times acting out or mimicking the actions of their on screen avatars. Sometimes this extends for the rest of the day or evening and can have a negative impact on their sleep.
Since we don't allow a lot of this sort of game play often, I can't say what long term effects it may have on their behavior but short term it certainly is not good. And this is the reason for the limited ability to play T and M in our house.
Next time your kids play an aggressive game take note of their behaviour immediately following and decide for yourself how to manage games in your household
Dad Said it's OK to play - but in moderation