Dr. Michael Rich, Director (and self-described “Mediatrician”) of the Center on Media and Child Health for Children’s Hospital Boston recently fielded a question on the hospital’s blog from a parent asking about the impact Call of Duty might have on teenage boys.
Dr. Rich’s first attempt at answering the question resulted in a bit of a misstep, in that he misrepresented the Modern Warfare 2’s controversial “No Russian” scene, referring to it as the game’s opening scene and then falsely wrote that the player earns points by gunning down civilians in the airport.
The doctor’s recommendation? “Given all the evidence, I personally would never recommend that a parent give this game to a child or teen.”
Following a handful of comments on the original post which pointed out his errors in describing the game, the good doctor scripted a second blog in which he apologized, writing, “… even though I play video games, I have neither the skills nor the practice time to be a great gamer, so Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was demonstrated to me—I have not played it.”
He then went on to explain his interpretation of how violent games affect younger gamers:
…many research studies have shown that the majority of violent video game players do not go out and start shooting people—but they do show that those who view violent movies or play violent video games experience a consistent, measurable shift in their attitudes and behaviors toward greater fear and anxiety (especially in children), desensitization to suffering, and, in some, increases in aggression.
Therefore, as a pediatrician, I would steer parents and kids toward video games that are sports-, logic-, or strategy-based, instead of those that center on violence.
GP: A relatively even keel, non knee-jerk recommendations from the doctor in that at least he didn’t claim that all studies suggest violent games have a negative impact on youth. Or maybe we’re just learning to expect less from non-gaming experts that judge games. What do you think?