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Negative effects of video games header image - boy playing a video game Digital Wellbeing

The Negative Effects of Video Games That Weren’t Intended For Kids

Haley Zapal  |  March 21, 2023

Negative effects of video games header image - boy playing a video game

It is a truth universally acknowledged that lots of kids love video games. Gen Z had pong and Atari. Millenials had Mario, Mortal Kombat, and Goldeneye. Now, today’s generation has Fortnite, Call of Duty, Clash of Clans, and thousands of other options on multiple platforms. But with all this exposure, it’s important to talk about the negative effects of video games and what they can mean for kids. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the dangers, potential issues like addiction, as well as some of the most problematic games for kids. 

The Negative Effects of Video Games

While video gaming isn’t all bad — there can be great benefits like improved hand-eye coordination, relaxation, and socialization — there negative effects of video games can outweigh them.


The most common issue parents need to watch out for is known as internet gaming disorder, which is also known as video game addiction.Whenever a kid plays a video game, they get a hit of dopamine. Over time, some kids may seek out video games for longer periods of time to get that same feeling. In this way, video game addiction isn’t unlike an addiction to gambling, smoking, or alcohol. Symptoms include:

  • Intense preoccupation with gaming
  • Loss of interest in other activities
  • Irritability and anxiety when not playing
  • Falling grades

Desensitization to violence

This one can be hard to quantify, and it may not even apply to all children who play video games, since not all games are violent. But for the games that are super violent (more on that below), they can affect how a child views and reacts to physical aggression. Experts are split on how harmful they can be, but many parents simply don’t want their children to have exposure  to death, violence, and more on a regular basis. 

All Video Games ≠ For Kids

Let’s face it: kids play a lot of video games because they have a ton of free time. Video game companies know this and market specifically to them, and it’s worked for years. But as technology has progressed, video games have become increasingly complex. Some games are essentially 20-hour long interactive movies, complete with character development and immersive stories. Many of these are even rated adults only, and contain nudity, graphic violence, profanity, and other types of mature content. A basic rule of thumb is: don’t assume that just because it’s a video game, it’s okay for a kid to play. 

Examples of Dangerous Video Games

Graphic violence

Realistic 3-D rendering and vivid graphics makes violence incredibly realistic in modern games. Here are two examples of two of the most popular violent titles today. You’ve probably heard of them — they’re households name due to their long-lasting succession of sequels and reboots.

Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat was originally released as an arcade game in 1992, and has been making waves with its punishing violence ever since. The latest version of this fighting game, Mortal Kombat 11, builds on the original’s brutality, and is widely available on PlayStation, Xbox, Nintendo Switch, and PC. The game revolves around powerful characters fighting to the death — but not before bloody mutilation and dismemberment. 

Call of Duty 

This first-person shooter franchise has been around since 2003, and it’s one of the most popular video games of all time. The games have been set in World War Two battlefields, the Cold War, the War Against Terror, and many others. The most recent installment, Modern Warfare 2, was released in 2022, and features a civilian mass shooting at an airport. These games feature intense scenes of battle with aggressive shooting and fighting. This, coupled with the fact that many players game online in real time with people from across the world, makes it fairly intense for kids.


Scary storytelling used to be the purview of films and novels, but video games, it turns out, can also do it quite well. 

Five Nights at Freddy’s

Remember Chuck E. Cheese? That’s basically the premise of Five Nights at Freddy’s. Locked after hours in a family pizza restaurant, you play as a night shift employee who must fend off the evil animatronic characters. It’s filled with spine-tingling jump scares, loads of creepy bad guys, and blood-curdling screams. The game(and its many sequels) are generally rated for teens and above, so it’s not like an R-rated movie, but for younger kids it can be a little overwhelming. 

Resident Evil 7

This franchise has been around for decades, and essentially kicked off the “survival horror” genre. Gameplay revolved around eliminating genetically engineered zombies with weapons like chainsaws, shotguns, flamethrowers, and explosives. Modern versions of the game have also incorporated VR headsets to make an immersive horror gaming experience.

Adult content

When it comes to topics, nothing is off-limits in some video games, and that can include encounters with alcohol, illegal drugs, sex, crime, and more.

Grand Theft Auto 

Another successful franchise over the years, the Grand Theft Auto franchise has been around since the 1990s. Through the various versions, your character drives around cities and completes missions related to revenge, drug deals, and crime. 

How Bark Can Help

If you’re concerned about your child’s video game usage, start by simply talking to them about it. Ask why they enjoy their favorite game and try to understand their perspective before jumping to conclusions. If your child does have a video game addiction, remind them that you are always there to support them as you take steps to get them help. 

Bark also wants to support your family when it comes to screen time and technology use. Our service lets parents monitor what their child is doing online so they can see if there are causes for concern related to video game use. It can also help parents manage screen time to ensure that their children are not using their devices more than they should be. Start your free trial today!

Bark helps families manage and protect their children’s digital lives.

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