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Virtual Violence: How Does it Affect Children?

virtual violence affecting kids

The digital revolution is upon us and children are spending more time online than probably any other age category. As per estimates, the average screen time for Indian kids is more than six hours per day. A vast variety of this screen time goes into consuming content online in the form of watching movies, web series, and other short or long video formats such as Instagram Reels or TikTok. These contents today have a heavy dosage of gore and violence that can have serious implications for a child’s psyche.

Another large portion of this time goes into playing popular video games. Most of these games involve bearing fancy arms and weapons and killing or destroying the opponents. If you hear large sounds of “kill”, “headshot”, etc then you must be worried as to what content your child is consuming and how it is affecting their psyche. With the age restrictions not so applicable online, it is up to the parents to set the boundaries and educate the kids about what is good and what is not good for our kids to consume.

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Here are some ways in which online consumption of violence affects children.

  1. Aggressive behaviour
  2. There have been ample studies that indicate the ramifications of frequent consumption of violent content on the psyche of young minds. Studies have suggested that overconsumption of such content frequently leads to aggressive behaviour in young children.

    Their minds are being conditioned in a very subtle manner which even they may not notice, but bit by bit their psyche is being shaped by a stream of subconscious violent thoughts and instincts.

    We can never predict when these subconscious thoughts and instincts surface as conscious thoughts and actions in the heat of the moment. The Western world has specifically seen ample cases of extreme violence purported by youngsters and teenagers which has been partially attributed to the violent form of content young kids have been exposed to in recent times

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  3. Blurs the line between real and unreal
  4. It is difficult for young children to fathom the demarcation between the virtual and real world. We do not know when something that is fair game in the virtual world becomes fair game in the real world as well. This could lead to dangerous societal and personal consequences for our children. Even if children do realize the separation between virtual and real, their impressionable minds are still registering the violence subconsciously.

    A player shoots another player in the head in the virtual games and the opponent’s body is shredded to smithereens with blood and flesh flying around the arena. The background score celebrates the kill and the player who makes the kill gets encouraging points and probably advances to the next level where he can kill even more enemies with even more sophisticated weaponry, automatic advanced guns, and bombs.

    Now, if you ask the young kids playing the game they will vouch for how exciting and fulfilling it feels. However, it is not difficult to imagine what this kind of content does to the impressionable minds of young kids.

    The effects have been said to manifest in various forms such as increased aggression, short tempers, anxiety, fatigue, irritability, stress, etc. Children tend to consume such addictive content for long continuous hours which kind of blurs the line between virtual and real world which could be extremely dangerous for the kids.

  5. Addictive behaviour
  6. Violence tends to provide kids with an adrenalin rush, a phenomenon much needed to build in the addictive qualities video games and web series need to drive “binge” watch behaviour among youngsters.

    This constant need for the “kick” motivates content creators to focus on violence as a respite. It also gives kids an opportunity to vent out, dominate and generate a sense of achievement even in a virtual world. While seemingly harmless, the way it influences young minds is a much more serious topic to ponder. Parents must be extremely watchful about the content their children are consuming. There is nothing wrong with consuming digital content in balance, but the type of content is worth considering.

For example, a car racing game or a football simulation game is much healthier for the minds than violent killing-based games.

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Role of parents and educators

It is difficult for parents to keep kids away from these popular contents but it is for them to ensure a balance of consumption. Parents need to make sure that the choice of content that their kids consume is positive, creates positive impressions and is not negative and toxic. In this endeavour, it will help if parents educate their kids on why it is important to not consume excessive violent content.

Just banning them from consuming content will lead to them questioning your decisions and might even lead to a rebellious attitude. Instead, a conversational approach to logically explain the scientific ramifications and introducing them to equally good but positive content is the suggested way out.

Expert educators at EuroSchool provide inputs to students and parents to guard them against the ill effects of violent online content. EuroSchool students are made aware of the consequences and are hence well informed in their choices of the content they consume online. Parents and teachers work in tandem at EuroSchool to carve out the strategy for the content our students are exposed to keeping a balance of benefits for a holistic mind, body, and spirit.

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