The American Academy of Pediatrics recently cautioned that media violence from games, films, and social media messages make kids more violent, anxious and insensitive. And the things could get a lot worse with the rise of Virtual Reality (VR) technology.
The group published their statement called Virtual Violence early this week in the journal Pediatrics.
Researchers explained that “virtual violence” is an updated moniker for screen aggression. But a new term was needed to underline the dangers of the “more immersive ways” kids and teens can now explore violence.
Dr. Dimitri Christakis, senior researcher who drafted the statement believes that with the dawn of VR violent games the experience will have a stronger impact on children’s minds as violence will get more intense.
Dr. Christakis noted that parents are currently more worried about the quantity of screen time than quality. The researcher believes that although setting limits is important, quality should be primordial.
The new guidelines include a set of recommendations for parents. For instance they should watch media and even play the games their kids watch or play along with the kids. Parents of children aged six or younger should bar the access to violent media as this age group has great difficulties in telling real-world from fantasy.
Regulators should put strict limitations on violent content and should support more user-friendly ratings for games and other media products. Pediatricians should work with the industry and give their recommendations on what may be harmful to a child’s psyche.
Video game industry and film makers should no longer tout guns and violence in the products destined to minors. Also they should remove scenes of gratuitous violence and sexism from their content.
Video games should never reward players for killing a human target or animal. News outlets and journalists should be aware that there is a documented link between virtual or screen aggression and real-world violence.
Dr. Bruce Ballon of the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Canada, who hasn’t contributed to the AAP recommendations, agrees with AAP’s view. Still, he says that not all teens will bear life-long mental scars from violent content.
Nevertheless, kids can develop learning disorders, ADHD and social anxiety. And there is a proven link between violent games and insensitivity to violence as U.S. military experiments had shown.
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