Sunday, February 15, 2015

Eight big reasons not to let your kids play violent video games

Parents, you may want to watch this for a family home evening lesson with your teens and pre-teens. You may be shocked at how bad video games have become, and how much they can effect people. 

Wow. This is a very interesting presentation on the powerful effects of violent media, specifically video games. 

Brad Bushman and his team reviewed 381 studies. He presents solid research of how violent video games: 
  1. increase aggressive thoughts 
  2. increase aggressive behavior
  3. increase anger
  4. increase physiological stress
  5. decrease empathy toward others
  6. decrease helpful behavior
  7. decrease self-control (this one comes in the Q&A at the end of the video)
  8. And why many people deny the negative effects of violent media 
Reasons people deny the negative effects of violent media:
  • fallacious reasoning "I've never killed anyone so video games don't affect me at all."
  • cognitive dissonance - "
  • psychological reactant - want it more if someone tells you can't have it, agress against the source of the prohibition. "I swear I could strangle whoever wrote that report. ... I'd pummel, maim, then strangle!"  "It's crap like you're article that makes me feel violent. It's not the games." "People who think video games cause violence should be shot!" 
  • third person affect - believe they are more resilient against affects of media than others
  • denial from media industry - news reports are going the opposite direction of scientific studies
Fascinating!  And very motivating to keep protecting my kids from these. 

My son, who is now 18 and serving an LDS mission, went through a long phase of longing and begging for the video games the neighbor kids were playing. He thought he was the only one whose parents didn't allow them. It was hard to resist his pleas. But I had studied and taught about the effects of negative media for years, and I knew that we didn't want any of those results in our family. 

Years down the road, my son has thanked me over and over that we said "no." 

He saw other young men become addicted to violent games, playing them into wee hours of the morning over and over and some of the negative effects they caused. Our son has been so grateful to be free from the distraction, addiction, and darkness that other young people have dealt with from these games. Parents, it's worth the hard work of saying no, even if your child thinks he is the only one not playing violent video games.  God laid out the standard, and it is very clear. These games do not fit the Lord's standard. They invite darkness, not light. They push away the Spirit, not invite the Spirit. 

What if your kids are already addicted to these games?  

I would recommend that you pray hard for guidance of what to do and then act on the promptings you receive. You could invite your child to watch this presentation with you. Hold FHE lessons studying the doctrine from the prophets and apostles. Be open to what the Spirit guides you to do. Your actions could help save their souls. President Eyring's wife ended up breaking her television because her sons kept disobeying their media standards. 

Elder M. Russell Ballard said, “To you I have only one question: are you going to follow the true and living prophet or not?  It really isn’t any more complicated than that” ("When Shall These Things Be,” March 12, 1996, BYU Devotional, also Ensign, Dec. 1996).

Here is God's standard from For the Strength of Youth:

"Choose wisely when using media because whatever you read, listen to, or look at has an effect on you. Select only media that uplifts you. Satan uses media to deceive you by making what is wrong and evil look normal, humorous, or exciting. He tries to mislead you into thinking that breaking God’s commandments is acceptable and has no negative consequences for you or others. Do not attend, view, or participate in anything that is vulgar, immoral, violent, or pornographic in any way. Do not participate in anything that presents immorality or violence as acceptable. Have the courage to walk out of a movie, change your music, or turn off a computer, television, or mobile device if what you see or hear drives away the Spirit.

My husband, as an LDS bishop and lawyer, told of a connection he has seen with violent video games and pornography. You can read about that here.  

It may seem silly to say that violent video game addiction can be a gateway to pornography addiction, but think about it. They both can involve the same elements: immodest and pornographic images, violence, darkness and pushing away the Holy Spirit, escalation and desensitization, meaning the addict needs more quantity and more intensity to get the same high. Also, violent video games and pornography stimulate the same part of the brain. 

And because sometimes it can seem impossible to find wholesome entertainment, here is a post with 200+ clean, uplifting movies. (Disclaimer: I can only vouch for the top list, not the bottom list that was recommended by others.) 

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