Reducing Violent Video Game Effects
So how can the individual parent reduce the negative effects of exposure to violent video games, or to other forms of violent media? The careful reader may have noticed that most of the public policy options mentioned in the preceding section are directed primarily at reducing exposure of children and adolescents to such harmful materials. Of course, the most obvious way to reduce the harmful effects on children of any substance is to reduce or eliminate exposure to that substance, be it a drug (cocaine), a tool (sharp kitchen knife), or other product (lead-based paint, media violence). At this time, the best advice we can give concerning violent video games is also the most obvious—reduce as much as possible children's and adolescents' exposure to such violent games.
There is some limited evidence that explicit discussions with children and adolescents about the harmful effects of media violence and the inappropriateness of aggressive and violent solutions to interpersonal conflicts, and practice at thinking about potential nonviolent solutions to conflict, all guided by parents or other adult authority figures, might reduce the harmful effects of exposure to media violence (Huesmann, Eron, Klein, Brice, & Fischer, 1983; Robinson et al., 2001). Indeed, results we reported earlier from Studies 1 and 3 also suggest that adult involvement in children's media use might provide some protection against the harmful effects of violent video games. However, parents who merely play violent video games with their children are likely to make matters worse, rather than better. Such coplay without explicit discussions of harmful effects, inappropriateness of violent solutions in real life, and promotion of nonviolent alternatives is likely to be seen by the child as endorsement of violent atti-