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Children and Violent Computer Games
Oct 1, 2004

Suddenly he got up from where he was sitting and started to shout. He was furious just because he couldn’t kill the man who was firing at him. He sat down and tried again. He was hopping mad just to get rid of the man opposite him. He gave great damages to his rival. When the man opposite him was lying in a pool of blood, he mercilessly laughed. He repeated all these actions again and again. He was violently fighting and was trying all he can to harm his enemies. Although his mother called him a few times for dinner, he didn’t move from his desk. He was so much plunged into the game, he was not able to think anything else.”

Such sceneries are very common now in many houses and internet cafes. Children and youth are spending most of their times playing computer games. While parents favor computers as necessities of modern age and as assistants for their children’s homework, children mostly consider them as toy boxes. They initially start with innocent intentions, but in time they lose their original purpose. “Uncontrolled use of computers,” the common problem of many parents, is also a matter very difficult to solve for the experts.

How do computer games affect the children’s subconscious and their future lives? Do games with positive effects have an appealing presentation?

Computer games can be grouped under two categories. First are the games that help developing talents, understanding the life experiments and ethical values by using an entertaining method; Second are the games that do not contribute anything to the child’s imagination and thinking abilities and inciting violent and immoral behavior. For the game to positively affect the child’s intellectual, physical and spiritual development depends upon both the content and the duration of the game. This period of playing time should neither be too short, nor too long. To be able to obtain a proper balance in this matter, we should first equip the child with an education of using the time wisely. Children wasting their time for useless activities, can also be insensitive to effective use of time when they grow up. Concisely, children must acquire the consciousness of valuing time. Wasted time in front of computers cause children and youth to get passive. This increases the stress experienced by the children. Especially in active boys, this inactiveness causes an energy accumulation which negatively affects the child’s behaviors. The use of excessive energy by ways of different sports is very useful for the physical and mental development and raising of a social conscious. Moreover, spending time in front of computers, deprives children and youth from cultural activities like playing group games, studying together and engaging with a sports activity.

Many of us complain that our children cannot express themselves properly and are not clear at communicating with their environment. When we ask a question to our child, either we get a very brief or a routine answer. Times elapsed aimlessly in front of computers have a significant effect on this.

We see that violence increase in each level of any new computer game. The game producers consider every type of method as permissible just to be able to attract children to the screen. Scenes which are not suitable for the age form the subconscious of a child. Children who have been exposed to several violent scenes are mostly inclined to aggression, anxiety and panic and they are generally furious and quick-tempered and consider violence as an ordinary matter. Reactions of children who watch violent films and play fierce and crimson computer games change in time and start applying more and more force to people and children around them. They tend to hit and kick others even after a slight disagreement. Being affected from destructive violent scenes, children reveal problems like over anxiety, sleep disturbances and behavioral disorders. Since the causes and effects of behaviors affected by the five senses are not questioned so much in pre-school children, abnormalities mentioned earlier can be seen more on them. We can give these as example: “A three year old child who watched violent films, applied what he watched on TV and stabbed and killed his little brother with a knife. Another child who thought himself to be a pokemon (a cartoon character), threw himself from the seventh floor with the intention of flying. And another child in France who could not win any computer games became epileptic because of having too frequent and excessive anger fits due to the unsuccessful playing sessions.” Unfortunately we often hear such news. In order to illuminate the subconscious of our children with beauties, favors, affection, and altruism, we should offer them alternative useful and educational games.

Harmful games also prevent children to learn their own culture, thus cause a cultural corrosion. Such games take our children to a world of weird clothes and hairstyles, weapons being the accessories. In this virtual world, no values exist except for “might is right.” Furthermore, in most of these games Islam is shown as a boogeyman and Muslims are shown as terrorists deserved to be killed. Children who are seized by the computer games become alienated to their environment. Having difficulty to make friends around them, children become enslaved by the computer and isolate themselves from the society. The only friend of the child is the computer, and in spite of elapsing the time, child still feels great loneliness inside. Hence, parents should provide suitable activities for their children and reasonably arrange the time spent for computer games.

Many bad characters shown on computer games also have perverse effects upon the child’s personal development. It is definite that messages given by these games like being strong and unchallengeable, inconsideration of other people’s lives, killing for the sake of living, disdaining ethical values, despising other people’s feelings, disrespecting the person addressed, categorizing the people, negatively affect the child’s personal development. Such games also impose unfavorable impacts upon learning abilities and awareness of the child. Scenes that are rapidly changing on computer screen distract the child greatly, make him confused and disturb his mind. This triggers a difficulty in concentrating when learning. Besides, excessive light changes may cause epileptic fits for some children.

Conclusively, computer games inspire children that the life is only a game and lead children to think too much about the characters in the game and mentally and physically to be with them all the time. Children playing too much computer games, carry the same concepts in the game to their relations with their family and friends, cause the child to confuse between the reality and imagination and eventually, the time spent together decreases and unsocial behaviors settle in the child’s personality.

Surely, we cannot underestimate the beneficial sides of the computer which is a must in modern age. But the ideal is to benefit from the positive services of the computer and to ensure a protection against its harmful usage. The playing time which is essential for the child’s healthy growth, should be distributed fairly between virtual games and real group games. For this, we must prefer games;

• in which they can play an active role,

• that are suggested by specialists and other experts,

• which can provide national awareness and cultural identity,

• which support comprehension and intelligence of the child,

• which contribute to virtues like sharing, team spirit, caring for others, honesty, and diligence,

• which instigate curiosity and make learning fun,

• which include parents into the game,

• which infuse consciousness of performing duties and responsibility,

• which help developing imagination, thinking ability, exploring and inventing capability.

If eyes, ears and other organs that are bestowed upon us by the All-Compassionate Creator are engaged with only entertaining computer games, then they are being used out of their innate purposes. Therefore, the vital responsibility of parents is to be very careful for guiding their children to use their sight, hearing, feeling, judging faculties in the right direction and to prepare an environment that provides the child a rich learning background and to bloom his mental abilities.