Local 5 investigates: are video games safe?

Local News

In the wake of two mass shootings over the weekend, and the president’s suggestion that video games might play a part in the violence, Local 5 is reintroducing a story we reported in 2016.

You’ve heard the saying, “Things aren’t what they used to be.”

That’s definitely true when you talk about how kids are entertained these days. Much of their time is spent in front of a screen, often with a game controller in hand. On Thursday, Local has dedicated the entire day to the effect of screen time on kids.

We also have some insider tips on ways to help your family and children navigate video games in their lives.

1. Is my child addicted to video games?

The researchers we spoke to classified addicted video game behavior.

If your child is classified as addicted, they are having damage to these 5 areas of functioning of their life (not just one or two areas).

1.     Social

2.     School/job

3.     Family

4.     Psychological

5.     Emotional

2. Why is my child playing video games? What needs are they satisfying?

Researchers told us that video games fulfill several needs for children, and for adults as well. They satisfy autonomy: we like to feel like we’re in control. Video games also satisfy the need to belong: most of us like to feel like we’re connected to others. There’s also the need of competence: we like to feel good at what we do. If kids aren’t getting these needs met in other places in their lives, it could be easy for them to become addicted or more dependent on video games.

3. So what’s good about video games? Do they bring any good qualities to children?

Not all video games can be harmful to children, researchers told us. Some of them are educational, slow-paced, simulation games, and others involve building, creating, and exploring.

Below are some other surprising statistics Local 5 found in our investigation into video games.

8% of youth video gamers in the U.S. would classify by the clinical definition of what it means to be addicted.

HALF of the fourth graders in the U.S. (both boys and girls) have played Grand Theft Auto. A game with violence that is rated for M for mature players only.

If you have any questions about our coverage, or have questions of your own for us about video games, please email us at news@weareiowa.com.

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