Video Games and Children's Behavior

By: Jessa Goddard, Medical Reporter
By: Jessa Goddard, Medical Reporter

Knoxville (WVLT) - Video games are a multi-billion dollar industry, bringing in more money than movies and DVD's combined.

And they're becoming increasingly sophisticated and realistic.

Volunteer TV's Jessa Goddard joins us from the newsroom with more on a study that looks at the correlation between the type of game and its effect on your child's behavior.

Researchers compared the difference in children who played violent video games and exciting video games.

And they found different short-term effects on the brain in children playing a certain type.

Some video games promote learning, problem solving and the development of motor skills.

But many of the most popular emphasize negative themes, such as sexual violence and killing.

Psychiatrist Doctor John Robertson says children who play these violent video games often exhibit differences in activity levels in areas of the brain associated with emotional arousal and self-control.

"But excitability is different than aggression. You are more likely to be aggressive when you're excitable, but that's not necessarily a correlation," Dr. Robertson says.

Researchers found children who play violent video games exhibit more brain activity in a region important for emotional arousal and less activity in a region associated with certain functions, such as the ability to control and direct their thoughts and behaviors.

And this occurred after only 30 minutes of play.

"We do have, you know, pretty good research showing that the amount of time that you play these video games is correlated with things like lower grades, more anti-social behavior, aggressive behavior, as well as neglectful behavior patterns," Robertson says.

Researchers also found children who play exciting games exhibit more activity in areas of the brain involved in inhibition, concentration and self-control.

It also showed less activity in the area involved in emotional arousal.

Much like movies, video games are rated, and Doctor Robertson says that could help you decide what is appropriate for your child.

"The rating system that's out there is by some pretty sophisticated people that know the influence of these video games on our normal, average kids," Robertson says.

Certain children, those with emotional, behavioral and learning problems, may be more influenced by violent images.

If you're concerned your children are spending too much time playing video games or appear obsessed with violent video games, it may be time to set some limits.

For example, playing for no more than one hour, only after their homework is done.


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