A study by researchers at Simmons College published in the 2011 spring/summer edition of Journal of Children and Media looked at the development of moral reasoning among children ages 7 to 15 and found that children who play violent video games believe that some forms of violence are acceptable or even right.
Parents and other adults who defend violent video games like to point out that simply playing such games doesn’t mean all children will go out and commit acts of violence, and that millions of people play such games and never exhibit violent behavior. True.
This study, however, is about the attitudes of our children. The Simmons College study says moral reasoning is based on understanding the perspectives of others, but violent video games provide no perspective on the suffering of victims and, in fact, they impede this crucial developmental step.
Seventy-one percent of the games played by the children in the study contained at least some mild violence, while 25 percent included intense violence, blood and gore. In fact, the study found that children ages 7 to 12 routinely play games rated M for mature audiences.
When I’ve written in the past about the effects of violent video games on the hearts and characters of our nation’s children, I’ve received a rash of abusive, vulgar and vitriolic email from gamers, which only proves my point. The games must have some effect.
I’ll just hit the delete button on those messages and say this: Parents, see what games are in your child’s Xbox or PS3 and ask yourself whether the content of those games reflects the values you want to instill in your child’s heart.
If not, why are they playing them?