Kids love video games. They are an easy form of entertainment and an outlet to relieve frustrations. While video games can be fun and help kids relax, they are also not necessarily the best thing for your son, partly because of the time spent on them and partly because of the high levels of violence in many of the games.
There are ratings for television, movies, music, and video games. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a Web site that explains the ratings for parents at
The American Psychological Association (APA) released a news report on some recent research that found that playing violent video games like Doom or Mortal Combat can increase teenagers' feelings of aggressiveness. This held true in the laboratory setting as well as in real life.
Characters in these games are very vivid. They are fully digitized human beings that require your son to associate with them in order to play — and playing involves shooting and killing. This can be even more harmful than the violence on television or in the movies because your son has to take action and is not merely watching.
Video games are not totally horrible. Some video games teach typing or work on certain skills, including academic skills. Some teachers use videos as a part of an educational task.
As with anything, the key is control. As the parent, you need to decide which games your son is allowed to play and how long he is allowed to play them. Many electronics stores have games available for customers to test. This might be a nice field trip to have with your son, and it would give you a chance to see the games he is drawn to and check out the ratings for yourself.
Kids who spend a lot of time playing video games usually spend less time on physical activity. There are also games that try to include movement, like the Dance Dance Revolution games and the Nintendo Wii.