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Study finds parenting style could drive children to play violent video games

MATTHEW DUNN

IT turns out your parenting style could be driving your children to play violent video games.

A recent study from Iowa State University made this discovery after surveying a sample group of eight to 12-year-old children and their caregivers.

Lead researcher Russell Laczniak said that particular age bracket was selected as it was the age when children were both impressionable and getting into video games.

“At this age, kids become more vulnerable to outside influences and their peers,” he said in a statement.

“As a result, people sometimes question whether parents can still have an impact. Our results pretty strongly suggest that they can, even among this group in which peer influences are starting to take over and have a stronger impact.”

For the purpose of the study, three dimensions of parental styles were examined — warm, restrictive and anxious-emotional.

According to the researchers, warm parents show approval through affection and generally refrain from physical discipline.

Restrictive parents are known for setting and enforcing strict rules for the household, while anxious-emotional parents are overprotective and known for showing elevated emotions during interactions with their kids.

Dad’s heaps emotional. We should play Call of Duty.

Dad’s heaps emotional. We should play Call of Duty.

After examining these dimensions of parental styles, it was discovered the children of emotional and anxious parents were more likely to play violent video games.

“It is not surprising that warmer and more restrictive parents, or what we call authoritative, are most effective at reducing the amount of violent video games played by their children,” he said.

“If parents are more anxious, their message is not as well received by their children and it inhibits what they are trying to do. It is pretty clear from our study that is what is happening with kids playing violent video games.”

Mr Laczniak said these findings should encourage parents to think about how they are communicating with the children.

“If parents want to reduce the amount of violent video games that their kids play, be warm when dealing with them, but somewhat restrictive at the same time, and set rules and those rules will work,” he said.

Boy shoot and kills gran after playing video game

The news comes as the American Psychological Association claims it has unequivocal evidence to support the theory that violent video games lead to aggressive behaviour in real-life.

The evidence has been published in a 49-page report from the APA Task Force on Violent Media — a body established by the APA to review scientific literature published between 2005 and 2013 about the topic.

“The research demonstrates a consistent relation between violent video game use and increases in aggressive behaviour, aggressive cognitions and aggressive affect, and decreases in prosocial behaviour, empathy and sensitivity to aggression,” the Task Force said in statement.

In the light of its findings, APA is encouraging the Entertainment Software Rating Board to refine its video game rating system.

It is also calling for developers to create games that include increased parental control over the amount of violence they contain.

While confident in its conclusions, the Task Force admits more research needs to done.

“As with most areas of science, the picture presented by this research is more complex than is usually included in news coverage and other information prepared for the general public,” it said.

“What researchers need to do now is conduct studies that look at the effects of video game play in people at risk for aggression or violence due to a combination of risk factors. For example, how does depression or delinquency interact with violent video game use?”