Violent Games Can Hinder Development of Empathy in Children, says Study – IndustryGamers
The truth is, children shouldn’t be receiving their lessons in empathy from video games. Video games are not a source for that, and any game that tries to directly teach that lesson will not be received well by the intended audience. Putting the blame on games is just a sad and seemingly endless exercise.
The article states that many 7-12 year-olds reported that they play M-rated games, but then quickly says this could be the fault of the parents or the retailers. There’s no one or the other on this. It’s the parents. They don’t need to snoop around a child’s room to find out what they’re playing. They just need to be involved. This might include researching the content of a video game before purchasing it for a child or simply being aware of the type of media content the child is consuming. If you have a good relationship with a child, it isn’t too hard to simply ask questions.
Honestly, the development of empathy comes from having a good relationship with a child. This can be forged over the media in question. Play games with the child and engage the child in discussion about the game. Make the game playing experience about more than just the child’s progression from beginning to end.
What is the point of this game?
Why does Mario want to save Princess Peach?
Why does Luigi want to save Princess Peach?
Why did Bowser kidnap Princess Peach? Was that right?
In this game, Billy and Jimmy use violence to solve their problems. Is that appropriate in real life? What are some other ways to resolve disputes?
Abobo just busted through a wall. What would happen if you did that at school?
What exactly is Kabuki Quantum Fighter?
These questions were not just about empathy but also encouraged reasoning and possibly the use of imagination. Kids are encouraged to think while the relationship between parent and child is strengthened. This is where empathy is really developed, in social interactions.
I realize that this is in some part an oversimplification. Past research has shown that children who gravitate toward and are most likely to imitate violent media are those who have poor relationships with their parents (or just have bad parents) or rarely see their parents (often due to their parents’ work schedules). These situations are not so easily resolved, but they show that the core of the problem is not the media but the environment. Focusing on the media is just a scapegoat for parents who don’t want to accept responsibility and an outlet for morality crusaders who want to force their values on everyone else. After all, it’s not censorship if you’re saving the children/future.
Stop blaming video games. Stop blaming movies and television. Children, especially boys, will always be curious about content considered taboo. Children, especially boys, may want to imitate it. It’s up to parents to instill them with values. Children learn from their parents what their boundaries are, especially in terms of imitation. The most important point is to have a relationship with the child. The media will always have some effect on consumers, but it’s up to parents to instill children with basic human values. At this point in time in our cultural development, it doesn’t make sense that it isn’t more obvious.