Important Video Game Information for parents, grandparents, and guardians.

The impact of violent video games on mental health is a topic of ongoing research and debate.  While some studies suggest a potential association between playing violent video games and negative mental health outcomes, the overall picture is complex, and more research is needed to draw definitive conclusions.  Here are some findings from research studies related to the effects of violent video games on mental health:

Poor sleep quality: A meta-analytic review in 2021 found that problematic gaming was associated with poor sleep quality and disruptions in sleep patterns.

Aggressive feelings and decreased empathy:  A study conducted in 2022 with Japanese students found that battle royale games, a genre that includes shooter games like Fortnite, were associated with aggressive feelings, a sense of underachievement, and gaming addiction.

Stress response:  A study in 2017 found that playing video games increased cortisol (a stress hormone) and cardiovascular arousal, as well as the accessibility of aggressive thoughts.

Encourages cooperation:  Research suggests that violent games can be supportive when they involve cooperation with other players.  A small study in 2021 found that co-player games involving violence produced more post-play helping behaviors than co-player games with neutral content.

Symptoms of unhealthy gameplay:  The research on identifying symptoms of unhealthy gameplay is mixed.  Some potential signs that gaming may be negatively impacting a child’s mental health include increased distractibility, irritability, anxiety, sadness, aggression, and hostility.  However, it’s important to note that these symptoms can be caused by various factors, and not all children will exhibit them due to gaming.

Additionally, excessive gaming can have physical health impacts such as poor posture, obesity, eye strain, and repetitive strain injuries.  Gaming addiction can also lead to social isolation, depression, and anxiety, affecting social skills and relationships.  It’s crucial for parents and guardians to monitor their children’s gaming habits.  You should set limits on screen time, encourage physical activity and social interaction to balance out the potential negative effects of gaming. Seeking the help of a mental health professional can be beneficial if concerns about gaming addiction arise.

It’s worth mentioning that while some studies have focused on the negative effects of video games, there is also emerging research highlighting potential benefits of playing video games.  These include cognitive, motivational, emotional, and social benefits.  However, further research is needed to fully understand the extent and mechanisms of these positive effects.

To address these concerns and ensure a safe gaming experience for children and youth, here are some steps parents can take:

Set Time Limits:  Establish specific time limits for playing, ensure that gaming doesn’t interfere with schoolwork, chores, or other activities.  Encourage breaks and physical activity.

Monitor Gameplay:  Keep an eye on your child’s gaming habits and monitor their interactions within the game.  Regularly check their in-game friends list and communicate with them about their experiences.

Communication:  Have open discussions with your child about the potential dangers and negative effects of excessive gaming.  Help them understand the importance of moderation and balance in their gaming habits.

Parental Controls:  Take advantage of the parental control features available on gaming platforms and devices.  These controls can restrict game time, manage in-game purchases, and enable content filters to ensure age-appropriate gameplay.

Supervision:  Play the game with your child or observe their gameplay to understand its content and assess any potential risks.  This allows you to address concerns and provide guidance.

Online Safety:  Teach your child about online safety, including the importance of not sharing personal information, engaging in respectful behavior, and reporting any inappropriate or harmful interactions.

Encourage Variety:  Encourage your child to participate in other activities and hobbies to promote a balanced lifestyle.  Encourage physical exercise, social interactions, and other creative or educational pursuits.

Role Model Behavior: Set a good example by practicing healthy media habits yourself. Limit your own screen time and engage in activities that involve the whole family

By implementing these strategies and maintaining open communication, parents can help their children navigate the world of video games safely and responsibly.