For anyone who has a video-game obsessed child at home, you might want to pay attention to this. A new study suggests that children who are exposed to graphic content might see the world a little differently. As a matter of fact, kids who frequently play violent games are more immune to disturbing images than non-players. In other words, it’s called “emotional blindness” and it has a lot of health experts worried.
The study’s author and cognitive psychologist Dr. Steve Most, from UNSW Psychology, says that emotion-induced blindness can occur when a person’s emotions impact their perception of the world. During the study, participants were shown a flashing sequence of 17 images at 100 milliseconds per image. When viewing the image stream, participants were asked to indicate which direction it was rotated to. The study found that frequent violent video game players seemed to be less impacted by the emotional disruptors. To put it simply, kids who play violent video games are so immune to other people and their emotions, that they don't even react to it. Apparently, there's a link between violent video game exposure and a person's perception or how they process information.
Dr. Most explains, “For example, when people rapidly sift through images in search of a target image, a split-second emotional reaction can cause some of them to be unable to see the target. This occurs even if you're looking right at the target. It's as if the visual system stops processing the target in order to deal with the emotional imagery it's just been confronted with."
Many video game players who have emotional blindness have difficulty showing emotions or have apathetic behavior. More often than not, they are not interested or concerned or indifferent or unresponsive to those around them.
With that being said, many pediatricians and health experts agree that old-fashioned toys – and not video games – are better for kids and their development. What’s more, many so-called educational apps rarely teach kids anything. That’s because physical and real-life “play” is the most important activity for a child’s development. The American Academy of Pediatrics says in their new guidelines that they get language skills, learn about how the world works, and get feedback that can reinforce learning and positive behavior by actually interacting with other kids. The more parents limit screen time and video game time, the better off their children will be.
Kids need to use their imaginations, they need to move both their hands and their bodies and they need to express creativity, engage with others and express their emotions. Unfortunately, no amount of video games – whether they are violent, non-violent or educational – will do the same thing.