"Violent video games are a risk factor for aggression"
What the Vice President of the Association of Psychologists said, on the occasion of yesterday's attack of a 13-year-old with a hammer with a cause ... a video game
The video games and the large exposure to video games, which have violent content, certainly cause, -not only these-, but have an effect in terms of aggression, said to KYPE the School-Educational Psychologist and Vice President of the Cyprus Psychologists Association Evita Ka.
Asked how children are affected by electronic games and the many hours they spend with them, on the occasion of yesterday's incident of injury to a 13-year-old by a peer, Mrs. Katsimiha said that from recent research in Cyprus and around the world, our data suggest that exposure to violent video games is indeed a risk factor for children to have increasingly aggressive behavior.
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"Because children play too many hours of video games, what happens is that they slowly become unconscious, that is, they get used to this aggression a little bit and maybe gradually transfer it to the external reality, as it was seen from the incident that you say. So, video games and high exposure to video games, which have violent content, certainly cause one - not only that - but they also have an effect on aggression. They also reinforce a reduction in empathy, ie children find it difficult to empathize with the victim, who is also likely to have some effect on the external reality they experience, considering that what they play in the game can happen in school as well. or in another context, "he added.
So, continued Ms. Katsimiha, "we are not impressed that these children in such a violent way tried to hit their old classmate or at least their friend."
Parents to limit the time children spend in front of a screen
Asked how parents can understand that their child is addicted to video games and what they can do to help the child, Ms. Katsimiha said the first thing parents can notice is the amount of time their children spend playing electronic games.
"So, to try in ways that delimit their children anyway, to delimit the time that children spend in front of a screen. And also to have knowledge about the games they play. That is, not all games played on consoles are violent. So, it is very important to make a distinction between toys that are quite violent and toys that can be more sporty, and for that we as parents, it is very important to be next to the children, that is to care to learn, to see what exactly they are playing. "We should not reject it without knowing what the content is," he noted.
So, continued Ms. Katsimiha, it is important for parents to sit down with their child, to explain to them what exactly the game is, to show an interest, because this also opens bridges of communication to discuss the game.
"That is, not to be passive recipients of information and what enters through the game, but to be able to actively discuss with our children what is happening in this game, what is happening, if you would do it, how you would do it manage differently, and so on depending on the game they play. "It's just that many times parents reject without first seeing, and that basically can't have an effect on their children about the content without them knowing what it is," he added.
The children take refuge in front of a computer for several hours
Answering a question that the pandemic and more time at home due to restrictive measures contributed to exposing children more, Ms. Katsimiha said that what they receive as feedback from parents on a daily basis is that the children have indeed been affected.
"That is, due to the fact that sports activities have also decreased, children resort to spending several hours in front of a computer. In any case, they spend several hours, in some cases, with the online lessons ", he added.
So, continued Ms. Katsimiha, perhaps here is an even more insurmountable need for parents to provide more alternatives.
"That is, because outdoor activities have declined anyway, parents could provide more interesting activities either indoors or out in nature, but do not expect their children to tell them to stop playing. and expect to stop playing. Parents also need to provide alternatives, which of course is not always easy, but it is important to have an alternative. And of course again the demarcation here is important. That is, yes the child has no other alternatives, as many as he had but that does not mean he will play in the games without limit. So, here again, the balance between the hours spent in front of a computer playing specific games and the hours spent doing some other activity is important ", he noted.
He also said that toys are not the only reason for violent and aggressive behavior, that is, among the causal factors are other things that play a role, such as socio-economic, the conditions in which a child grows up.
"So, not to consider that toys are the only causal factor, we just take this factor into account," he added.
We need to provide support
Asked how you treat a child when he or she behaves violently, Ms. Katsimiha said that I think it is necessary, because we are also talking about minors, to be a little careful in the consequences that will be imposed.
"So when we talk about 13-year-olds, we need to provide support on another level, perhaps more psychological. Take a look at the consequences of what they probably did. Maybe it was such a rather impulsive behavior. So, we need to provide these supplies so that the children can continue their lives after that, because they are minors. Adolescence thus makes us a little more impulsive. Of course not so always extremely impulsive, but it has such an impulsiveness. So, I think it's important to look at all the factors that may have led the children to this act. To investigate the reasons and respectively to provide help where we can either psychological support or at the level of society one support, at school level also one support. "They may be children who are not so connected to the school they go to," he added.
So, continued Ms. Katsimiha, "let's see how we can provide multilevel help to these children."
Parents should seek communication with their children
Ms. Katsimiha said that parents need a balance to have even a high level of supervision over their children and that means, even if they are in adolescence, to open the closed doors, to seek communication with such a balance again, so that they can have and access to what goes on behind closed doors, who their children hang out with, what exactly they play and how they spend their time.
"So, only in this way will the parents be able to act preventively for such events", he concluded.