Video Games: Cons and Pros (page 2)

— NYU Child Study Center
Updated on Jul 9, 2010

Does a child's predisposition affect his/her experiences with video games?

We don't know that information right now. However, it seems that kids that are prone to get excited by violence are often over stimulated by games. They may have an increased reaction to the content of the games when compared to others. Several of the teens responsible for school shootings were highly invested in "first person" games.

In a 1982 report by the Surgeon General of the United States and a follow-up report by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) they listed concerns that children might

  • become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others
  • become more fearful of the world around them
  • be more likely to behave in aggressive or harmful ways towards others.

Are these concerns relevant today?

They are even more relevant because of the increased reality in video games. First person shooting games with realistic or exaggerated depictions of gore seem likely to have an even greater impact than the images being reviewed over 20 years ago.

Should parents limit their children's access to video games and if so, how?

Parents should limit their children's time on video games. As noted before, it is helpful to consider a child's leisure time diet and parents should think about how well balanced it is. Video games that are violent or of limited instructional value can be thought of as treats or guilty pleasures. Children can enjoy them in moderation while they are also participating in leisure activities that enlighten them, provide physical and mental exercise, and enrich their experiences.

What should be the direction of future research into the effects of video games?

We need to know more information on the effect of the different types of video games and the different components of video games. For example, which aspects of the games enhance fine-motor coordination and which aspects facilitate concentration. For the different types of content, what are the emotional and physiological reactions to the content and how long do those reactions last? Finally, what is the impact of different amounts of video game playing and how do video games interact with other forms of entertainment to build or detract from social , emotional, and intellectual development?


Anderson, C. A. & Dill, K.E. (2000). Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavior in the laboratory and in life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 78, No. 4, 772-790.

Carnagey, N., Anderson, C., Bushman. B. (2006). The effects of video game violence on physiological desensitization to real-life violence. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, July 2006 (on-line edition).

About the NYU Child Study Center

The New York University Child Study Center is dedicated to increasing the awareness of child and adolescent psychiatric disorders and improving the research necessary to advance the prevention, identification, and treatment of these disorders on a national scale. The Center offers expert psychiatric services for children, adolescents, young adults, and families with emphasis on early diagnosis and intervention. The Center's mission is to bridge the gap between science and practice, integrating the finest research with patient care and state-of-the-art training utilizing the resources of the New York University School of Medicine. The Child Study Center was founded in 1997 and established as the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry within the NYU School of Medicine in 2006. For more information, please call us at (212) 263-6622 or visit us at

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