Psych Experts: Violent Videos Distort Kids' Health, Perceptions

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American Academy of Pediatrics Support Age-Appropriate Limits, Not a Ban

That's the same approach advocated by the non-profit American Academy of Pediatrics, which represents 60,000 child specialists.

The academy considers exposure to violence in television, movies, music and video games "a significant risk to the health of children and adolescents," AAP President Dr. O. Marion Burton wrote in a June 17 letter to Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif. "Extensive research evidence indicates that media violence can contribute to aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, nightmares, and fear of being harmed."

Dr. Niranjan S. Karnik, a child psychiatrist and sociologist at the University of Chicago, said that as much as he is bothered by the influence of violent media on children, the court decision was "not unreasonable." He said the same kind of censorship that could block children from buying video games also could be used to ban library books.

"In my heart, I'm sympathetic to what the legislature was trying to do," he said. "I work with aggressive kids all the time. I get why they want to reduce this influence. But I don't think that removing the images will remove the issue."

He said most of his young patients are savvy enough computer users to work around a sales ban. "It's not just purchasing games at the store down the block. It's now purchasing games online. All they need is mom's and dad's credit card," he said.

However, parents have the power to take away all the sources of inappropriate material.

"Your kid doesn't have a right to the video game box, to the computer, to the X-Box, or the television," he said. "I've told parents to get rid of the router at home. The e-mails can probably wait until you get to work tomorrow."

Parents express "shock and horror," Karnik said. But, as he tells them: "If you remove those things, then the issue actually goes away."

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