Video Games Relationship to Impulsivity & Aggression

Normally I do not re-post the extra material we give to our students on Balanced Life Skills  student site, but this is too important for all parents to know in regard to their children.


The playing of video games have long been a concern of many parents.  For some the concerns have been about encouraging violence, physical health, the addictiveness and time spent on the little screen, depressive behaviors.  There are many other concerns that we will discuss at other times dealing with stereotyping too that do not get the attention they deserve.

But here is a new concern that I have not read about previously but is backed up with a study that makes a lot of sense.  The playing of fast paced video games can “reduce the ability of the person to inhibit impulsive behavior.”

If you have ever tried to play some of these games, you will find that it requires a great deal of hand / eye coordination.  Very quick decisions also need to be made and in fact they are being made without “thought” – you just do.  This fast paced process does increase the players visual skills, but there is a downside.

The fast pace processing is training the brain to behave without thinking just doing “automatically” with impulsive reactions being quick and automatic.  The implications are far reaching including ADD, ADHD and impulsive aggression of all kinds.  In future posts I will show other examples of how our behavior is trained by what we surround ourselves with.

Anger management and education is self defense, protecting ourselves and our relationships from damage. To read more on these studies here are two resources:

Self Control: making choices

One of the most common reasons parents bring their children to a martial arts school is to teach them about impulse control.  Doing the first thing that pops into our head without thinking through all of the possible solutions can end up in results that are less than what we hoped for.  So we are going to spend some time this month on the subject of self control. 

Our child development specialist,  Robyn Silverman, gave us this system for gaining this control.  We want to remember STEP.
Here is how it works.  S is for Stop.  First we must find a way to slow ourselves down before we do the first thing that pops into our head.  It might be taking 3 deep breaths or stepping away from a situation, but we must distract ourselves before making that decision.  T is for THINK.  Make a list of all the possible solutions you can come up with.  Some of them may seem ridiculous, but the point is to let your mind be creative and think of all of the ways you could handle this situation.  E is for EVALUATE.  Now look at each solution and decide if this would result in a good consequence or a bad one.  Is this solution safe?  Is it fair?  Some of the choices you will throw away and some you will keep.  But then you need to decide which one is going to be best for you at this time.  P is for PROCEED.  Now is the time to implement your choice.  Here is where great balance is needed as you proceed you choose what is thoughtful with being eager and gutsy.  You balance your goals and self motivation with being level headed and thoughtful.

Maintaining self control is really just about slowing down and thinking through our choices before acting on them.