An author and researcher says parents should be concerned, but not too much, about their children and video games.
"What parents should be looking for is if game playing is negatively impacting other areas of their child's life," Rachel Kowert, PhD, told "Today's Issues" this week on American Family Radio.
She was interviewed about her new book, "The Video Game Debate: Unraveling the Physical, Social and Psychological Effects of Video Games."
It's a timely topic during the Christmas shopping season, since many children are handing a wish list of game titles to their parents.
Research on video games and their effect on children is a mixed bag, Kowert says, noting the number of news stories about violent video games and their potential negative effects.
"But video games can also be great learning opportunities," she told the radio show." They can be great shared experiences for children to have with their friends and with their family, depending of course on the content of the game."
During the Monday interview, Kowert was asked whether parents should be very concerned, a little concerned, or not concerned at all?
"I would say a little concerned," he said. "I would say as concerned as you would be with your children consuming other kinds of explicit media."
A video game and its content should be scrutinized, she advised, just the same as the content in films and TV shows.
When pressed about reported links between video games and violent behavior, Kowert said it cannot be completely ruled out, while adding that "it's very unlikely that its influence supersedes the influence of other factors."
Those facts are genetics, environment and personality traits, she said.
"Just because they're playing a lot doesn't mean they're addicted," she advised.