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Video Games

Some early video games, as well as many recent ones, were and are self-consciously educational and prosocial. Most would agree that video games of the 1970s, such as Pong, carried little more developmental risk than a game of table-tennis. The primary criticism at the time was that they fostered sedentary behavior in children. Many surveys of video games of the 1990s, however, tend to reveal both violent and sexist content. More serious criticisms include the promotion of short-term and long-term aggressive behavior through exposure to on-screen violence and the formation of negative gender stereotypes through exposure to passive, sexualized, and/or victimized female characters. Other research suggests that children's prosocial behavior may be reduced by playing video games. Technology improvements have allowed photorealistic effects, which lend credence to the view that negative effects found for television viewing may be true for playing video games as well. Nevertheless, findings for long-term developmental effects are not consistent. The conservative assessment is that more study is needed.


Cesarone, Bernard. "Video Games and Children." In ERIC Digest[web site]. Urbana, Illinois, 1994. Available from http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed365477.html; INTERNET

Dietz, T. L. "An Examination of Violence and Gender Role Portrayals in Video Games: Implications for Gender Socialization and Aggressive Behavior." Sex Roles 38 (1998):425-442.

Van Schie, E. G. M., and O. Wiegman. "Children and Video Games: Leisure Activities, Aggression, Social Integration, and School Performance." Journal of Applied Social Psychology 27 (1997):1174-1194.

Derrald W. Vaughn

Heather Kelly

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Social Issues ReferenceChild Development Reference - Vol 8