The video game industry has come under fire recently for its use of sexist images and characters. Female characters in video games are more likely to be praised for their physiques than their skills or talents. Common female stereotypes are reinforced by video games where women are nothing more than pawns for male heroes. While video games are not real, these tendencies send a very real message to the kids that play them. In addition, many video games feature brutal violence, which is in many cases directed at women. Grand Theft Auto V caused a backlash when it was released in 2013 for giving players the option to pick up and kill prostitutes. If this doesn’t contribute to negative attitudes and behaviors towards women in society at large, what does? Read on to find out how violent video games are affecting your kids and what you can do to limit their exposure to games that degrade and debase women.

How Video Games Affect Kids

In the United States, approximately 97% of teens play video games and video game sales have grown in recent years, bringing in approximately $12 billion dollars every year. While supporters of video games have shown that games can help children to develop problem-solving skills, manual dexterity, and computer literacy, there are a number of negative outcomes related to video games that feature violence. Adolescents and teens who play violent video games are statistically more likely to act aggressively towards other children. In the case of boys, players usually identify with the characters in their favorite video games. In games where female characters are valued for their physical characteristics above all else, this may perpetuate negative female stereotypes.

Checking Ratings

Video games are extremely popular with adolescents and teens. Eliminating video games from your child’s life completely may be difficult. However, one thing that you can do is limit the video games your child plays. You should always check the rating on the game before buying or renting it for your son. In the United States, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rates the majority of games based on sexual content, violence, language, and suggestive themes. In general, social building games that ask players to build houses, cities, and towns and reward them for development have more positive effects on child development.

Setting Limits

Keeping video game consoles out of your child’s bedroom and in high-traffic areas in the house-such as your living room-is a good idea. It will also be easier to set limits on the amount of time your child spends playing games if he or she has to share the television with the rest of the family. Keep in mind that your child can also access video games online. Finally, asking your child about the content of the video games and how it makes him or her feel is also a good idea.

Video games can promote violence and aggressive behavior in children. Some video games have mature themes and feature women who are depicted as sex objects. Unfortunately, these video games can help to promote negative female stereotypes in children. Always check a video game’s rating before allowing your child to play and limit his or her game time.