Children's commissioner warns video games can 'kindle aggression in children'

At a Family Affairs Committee meeting, Commissioner for Children Pauline Miceli, suggested that there were many factors that made children aggressive with violent games being persistent stimulators of aggression

Children between 14 and 18 years can be especially turbulent and spend too much time on their games
Children between 14 and 18 years can be especially turbulent and spend too much time on their games

Video games, pervasive, persistent and ubiquitous, are always within reach to children, the Commissioner for Children Pauline Miceli said, and these games are often violent and stimulate aggression.

Miceli was speaking at a Family Affairs Committee meeting on Wednesday. She suggested that video games were especially attractive to young boys and that these games allow young men to take the role of the aggressor in virtual reality.

"They are killing characters online all the time. They might know that it's virtual but it's a constant, daily, stimulation. In some games, players get more points for stealing, for killing. It has become a problem for children to find a balance between online life and offline life," Miceli said.

She added that social media was another medium on the plane of online life where children were constantly being fed scenarios which were cut off from reality.

Children's Commissioner, Pauline Miceli
Children's Commissioner, Pauline Miceli

Miceli is an educator by profession and has worked both as a teacher and administrator at secondary and post-secondary levels for many years.

The most common age bracket that evinces aggression is that between 14 and 18 years of age, Miceli said. She said that these are the most turbulent years in adolescent life.

"Adolescents can have gambling problems and problems of substance abuse which might lead them to theft from their own parents and other aggressive behaviour to get what they want," she said.

Commissioner for Domestic Violence Simone Cini who was present at the committee meeting as well, reiterated Miceli's statements on video game culture.

"The internet is most often acting as a babysitter for most adolescents and they are constantly being exposed to virtual violence here," she said, adding that hearing a child play, saying things like 'I'll kill you' or 'kill me' is proof of this. Killing has become an ordinary thing.

Miceli said that the lack of supervision is becoming increasingly common due to modern-day exigencies. "The personality of most adolescents who exhibit violence most often shows a lack of affection where these children are unable to express their emotions and severely lack social skills," she said.

If the father, as is usually the case, is the more dominant parent who is quite overbearing on his children, children would identify the mother as the weak parent and would exert their frustration there, Miceli suggested.

"Children might be also exhibiting aggression because they see their parents solve their issues with aggression or because there seems to be no agreements between the parents, and the kids solve their bottled-down frustration in this way," Miceli said.