Violence in video games is becoming a highly debated topic not only in KELOLAND, but also across the country.
When a new video game hits the shelf, 12-year-old Nathan Wahle can't wait to pick it up. But his mom, April, says she gets the final say on what game Nathan gets.
"Usually I look at how much violence is in it and if there is a way to turn off the whole blood scene,” April said.
One way for April to ensure Nathan won't be getting anything too gory or violent is by checking the rating on the front of the box.
"The ratings are telling us the amount of violence, adult situation, adult themes, possible nudity, gambling, and dirty language," Network Security Instructor Daniel Larson said. "They are definitely important because they are a good spot to start gauging whether it is appropriate for a child of a certain age."
The Electronic Software Rating Board or ESRB ratings, range from C for Children to M for Mature, meaning 17 or older. Each rating is aimed at a different level of maturity. And that's why Early Childhood Program advisor Kaay Bowman says paying close attention to what your children are allowed to see is so important.
“Video games do influence children; we know by the way the brain develops. We know the brain developmentally is influenced by things that are in the environment," Bowman said.
Bowman says if a child is exposed to violence too early, it could influence how they react in the future to violent acts.
"Well as children are in those formative years and even into adolescence they are learning what our culture, what our society deems appropriate. Again, the more you are experiencing something, the stronger the connection is in your brain," Bowman said.
Bowman says video games are not solely to blame for people acting out violently in society.
"There are so many factors involved, it's hard to really know what causes that and certainly a lot of people play the blame game on video games and you see that re-enacted there. But for that to be a cause in and of its self would not be true. It may be a piece of something, but only a piece. There is so much to somebody's social world," Bowman said.
And as a mother well aware of the world around her, this is why April takes the time to talk with her son about what's going on in the world.
“He has the right type of up bringing. He knows right from wrong. I try to make sure that he watches the news and pays attention to the bad things that are happening. And knows those things are bad people, not what we want to turn out to be," April said.
As her 12-year-old grows and becomes more independent, she says she will still keep a watchful eye.