Windows XP / Networking

Guidelines for the Level of Violence in Computer Games

Almost every time the headlines announce a tragic shooting by a teenager, usually at a school, the background information on the accused includes the fact that the child was devoted to violent computer games - some of which are available for children to play interactively on the Internet.

No research exists that shows that a perfectly normal kid can be turned into a mass murderer as a result of a violent game. But the experts are polarized and locked into extreme positions, and parents have a hard time knowing whom to believe. Violent games are fascinating and popular, especially among boys (according to research), so knowing where you stand as a parent is essential. Here's what you need to do:

  • Talk to your children about violence in all media, such as movies, music, television, and computer games. Make sure that the boundaries you set are clear to your children, and listen to their opinions.
  • If you decide to let your kids play video games, develop guidelines for your children. These guidelines should explain your own value systems and your own definitions of, and reaction to, violence. For example, some parents object to anything that is connected to guns, whereas other parents explain that hurting another person is not amusing. By setting guidelines, you can send your kids off to gameland with some moral and emotional equipment, which can help them put their activities into perspective - this is a game, not life.
  • If you decide that some of the games are indeed extremely violent, you have every right as a parent to forbid your kids to buy or play them. Get familiar with all the games that are popular with kids so you are credible in the eyes of your kids.

One of the best ways to stay on top of computer games is to use your favorite search engine to search the Internet for "reviews of games." One excellent site is The American Library Association ( parentspage/greatsites). Many sites offer links to additional sites, and most of those sites offer newsletters that you can subscribe to in order to keep up with the latest games.

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