The effect of violent video games on children has come under some dispute. There is evidence to suggest that violent video games can have adverse effects on the children that play them. Though steps have been made by the gaming industry to prevent violent games from being played by the children with the ERSB rating system, there is still a problem.
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A study by Gentile and Anderson in 2003 suggests that violent video games can cause aggressive behaviour in children and teens under the age of 18. The reason for this is that the interactive nature of video games makes the violent acts performed on them very active for the player. In addition, violent actions are repeated again and again, so a child can become conditioned to acting the same way a character on a video game does.
The American Psychological Association has made a link between violent video games and children being less caring and helpful. Unfortunately, children spend a lot of time playing video games in their most formative years, when they should be learning how to connect to others. A lack of development morally can lead to this apathetic attitude. These effects can happen even in children who are not made aggressive by their video games.
Dr. Phil points out that violent video games distort a child's moral judgment because they are rewarded for performing immoral acts. This does not mean that a child will replicate the acts in a video game, but his moral compass can be turned around and he may have a harder time realising what is right and wrong. This can result in aggressive language, an inclination to lie or other generally immoral acts.
Some psychologists, such as Chris Ferguson, have suggested that there may be some correlation between aggressive behaviour and violent video games but there is no causal link. Ferguson has found that there are little similarities between the psychological states caused by a violent video games and those associated with violent attitudes and attacks. Though there may be some children who are adversely effected by violent video games, this has not been proven.
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