By Jen Marx, eHow Contributor Debate exists over to what extent video games cause youths to act in a violent manner, if they even do at all. Evidence is not really able to determine an answer; however, examining the facts is best way to personally draw conclusions and decide whether or not the games do affect the children.
Who is Playing Video Games?
Part of figuring out the problem is determining if a large portion of children even play video games. The article "Media Violence Research and Youth Violence Data: Why Do They Conflict? " by Cheryl K. Olson, M.P.H., S.D. cites a 1999 survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation which recorded that 83 percent of children aged 8 to 18 had at least one video game console in their home. Forty-five percent had one in their bedrooms. Additionally, 20 percent, which was mostly comprised of boys, said that they played combat and/or action games.
Mature Video Games
Video games given the distinction of an "M" rating are intended to be sold for a mature audience, meaning individuals aged 17 and older. While stores are supposed to prevent anyone under that age from buying them, according to Olson children ages 13-16 were able to buy such video games 69 percent of the time as reported by a 2003 survey by the United States Federal Trade Commission.
A Deeper Look
Despite the overwhelming number of children playing violent or inappropriate video games, other statistics place the problem in context. According to "Video Games and Youth Violence, Examining the Facts," a study published by the Interactive Digital Software Association, video game sales have dramatically increased at the same time that youth violence has decreased. Furthermore, the same games are sold in other countries, but their rates of violence are lower than in the United States.
Reaching a definitive answer about whether or not video games cause violence is difficult to do, and a number of studies support that notion. In 1998, the United States Department of Justice and Department of Education jointly released a list of warning signs that could lead to violence in children. Playing video games was not on the list. A study by the Australian government determined "that it is very hard to find such effects and they are unlikely to be substantial," while the U.S. Surgeon General stated that "The impact of video games on violent behavior remains to be determined."
Although it may seem that the research suggests that video games do not cause violence, they actually really only say that such a statement cannot be determined. Therefore, parents should monitor what games their children play in order to control the amount of violence that they see by carefully checking the warning labels on the games. The Entertainment Software Rating Board is in charge of rating games, and they rate based on age but also include statements on the game packages that list whether it contains sexual content, violence, foul language, drug and alcohol abuse and so forth.