Research Studies and Articles about Violent Video Games and the Impact they have on Young People

Collegiate Coaching Services does not particularly support all statements made in these articles/videos; They are for educational and informational purposes only. Video Games is a nonpartisan, nonprofit website that presents facts, studies, and pro and con statements on questions related to whether or not video games contribute to youth violence. Website created by a gaming addict in recovery who is also a medical doctor. a parent whose young adult son is addicted to League of Legends video game wrote this article. He explores current research and highlights trends that are promoting violent video games to children.

The Effects of Video Games on Children: What Parents Need to Know; By Douglas A. Gentile, Ph.D in Pediatrics for Parents
The conclusion I draw from the accumulated research is that the question of whether video games are “good” or “bad” for children is oversimplified. Playing a violent game for hours every day could decrease school performance, increase aggressive behaviors, and improve visual attention skills. Instead, parents should recognize that video games can have powerful effects on children, and should therefore set limits on the amount and content of games their children play. In this way, we can realize the potential benefits while minimizing the potential harms. Research demonstrating that video games do lead to increased aggression and decreased empathy; both are correlated with overuse of violent video games. “Starcraft 2 targeted in Connecticut School Shooting video game debate” Study from 2005. “NRA blames violent video games for gun deaths” “Senator proposes bill to study violence in games” “After Newtown, some shoppers think twice about violent video games”

Chinese research published in the journal PLoS ONE in June, 2011, shows a striking correlation between Internet addiction and atrophy in the brain in young people, specifically in the are empathy center of the brain Game over? Chinese father orders son’s virtual assassination.

“Violent Video Games Effects on Aggression, Empathy and Pro-social behavior in Eastern and Western Countries”; A meta-analytic review; Psychological Bulletin; 2010, Vol 136, No. 2, 151-173 “Video Gaming Can Control Your Thoughts”,02370630.story;

“As a result of the compulsive video game playing, young people become deprived of movement, touch, human connection, and nature.

Useful information for Parents to utilize before purchasing video games Entertainment Software Rating Board assigns the age and content ratings for video games and mobile apps, enforces advertising and marketing guidelines for the video game industry, and helps companies implement responsible online privacy practices.

Tracy Markle MA, LPC

Collegiate Coaching Services


Headshot of Tracy Markle


Video Games… Do they contribute to violence?

“You know what’s really exciting about video games is you don’t just interact with the game physically—you’re not just moving your hand on a joystick, but you’re asked to interact with the game psychologically and emotionally as well. You’re not just watching the characters on screen; you’re becoming those characters.”

Nina Huntemann, Game Over

Our team at Collegiate Coaching Services works with teens and young adults who are impacted in a negative way due to the compulsive use of the Internet and video games, specifically violent video games. The current debate is; do violent video games cause someone to become violent towards others? In our experience, they are one of the core contributing factors, however, as you read through this, you will find that other factors more often than not, must be present for someone to act out in violence towards others.

Let’s start by examining violent acts that have been committed:

-1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado by two teenagers who played Doom, then a popular video game.

-2011 a Norwegian who killed 77 said later that he honed his shooting skills by playing many hours of Call of Duty.

-2012 Aurora theater shooter was reportedly “obsessed” with violent, role-playing games such as World of Warcraft, League of Legends, and Soldiers of Misfortune.

-2012 Newtown shooter played hours of the game, Call of Duty day in and day out.

The New York Times recently published an article, “Real and Virtual Firearms Nurture a Marketing Link”;

“Links on the Medal of Honor Warfighter video game site allowed visitors to click through the Web sites of the game’s partners and peruse their catalogs. “It is almost like a virtual showroom for guns”, said Ryan Smith, who contributes to the Gameological Society.”

“Makers of firearms and related gear have come to see video games as a way to promote their brands to millions of potential customers.”

One can see after reading this recent New York Times article how it is possible that playing violent games for hours and days at a time, along with being exposed to gun promotions and easy access to the gun manufactures online catalogs could increase the possibility of violent video games leading to gun violence.

It is important to recognize that there are many factors that can lead to violent acts by teens and young adults.

Compulsive video game playing can become a contributing factor to violence when;

1)   The young person plays violent video games for hours and hours every day of the week for months/years. (Desensitization theory proposes that repeated exposure to mediated violence reduces children’s sensitivity to violence.)


2)   There are attempts by someone to intervene in the young persons gaming behavior. Teens and young adults have become physically violent when a parent attempts to or does interrupt their play by restricting the computer. They may physically harm the parent, destroy property, and threaten to or do harm to themselves, or run away.

3)   The young person has access to weapons (e.g. guns, knives, bow/arrow)

When the young person has the risk factors described below combined with these factors, it is important to seek intervention immediately.

Factors that put young people at risk of becoming “addicted” to the Internet and video games:

1)   Excessively Introverted

  • Lacks strong social connections
  • History of bullying

2)   Isolated from family in the home

  • They play video games on a computer/tv that is away from others such as in their bedroom or the basement.

3)   Socially anxious and avoids others

4)   Excessive use of all screens from a young age; began gaming at a young age

5)   Impulsive

6)   Depressed

7)   Academic problems

  • Poor or changing grades
  • Truant

8)   Lack of structure and supervision by parent(s)

The violent video games to be alerted to and aware of;  

  • Call of Duty-Black Ops
  • Medal of Honor War fighter
  • Halo-4
  • Grand Theft Auto
  • League of Legends
  • World of Warcraft, Starcraft-2

These games are some of the more popular games. Even the games approved for ages 13 and over, are violent in nature, have regular references to sex, and drugs and alcohol use.

One example of a game “approved” for those 13 and older is, “Batman; Arkham City

  • This action-adventure game features characters from the Batman Franchise.
  • Players assume the role of Batman. Punch, kick criminals, bloodstains, & female characters are dressed in form-fitting outfits that expose large amounts of cleavage; silhouette of the words, “live nude”.
  • Sexual tension; “sure could go get some porn now.”
  • Depicts characters smoking, references to alcohol; ” “I’d give anything for a nice cold beer right now.”
  • References to violence;  “She got a little drunk and killed her classmates.”
  • The words, “b*tch”, “a*s”, and “bastard” can be heard in the dialogue.


In light of what recently occurred in Newtown, CT, the fact that the game makers of Batman; Arkham City, created dialogue referencing shooting classmates should be alarming to all parents and anyone who works with young people.  I doubt this is the only game with references similar to this. This highlights the importance of parents who purchase video games for their children to analyze and spend time viewing the game themselves before approving them for their children’s use.

Dr. Hilarie Cash, a national expert on Internet & video game addiction, recommends children do not start playing Internet video games until they have demonstrated recognized maturity and are in high school. I would like to highlight that if the games are violent in nature, (Internet & gaming consoles-style games) I would encourage parents to withhold these until their child is high school and at minimum 17 years old and again, demonstrates a level of emotional stability and maturity.

When our team prepares to support a family to intervene in their child’s video game addiction, we assess the child’s emotional and mental state, which includes any current diagnosis and history of treatment, history of violence and self-harm, as well as the parents’ ability to set and hold boundaries with their child.

Depending on the significance of the video game addiction and the co-existing problems, we may refer the young person to a treatment program that specializes in Technology dependency, such as Insight Intensive at Gold Lake in Ward, CO or Restart Internet Addiction Recovery progam in Fall City, WA. Or if treatment is not possible due to lack of financial resources, or not recommended, we may take a very slow approach to intervention with the young person and their family to ensure overall safety. We educate parents about the risks of violent video games, coach them on how to set boundaries in the home with their child’s use of computers, as well as build a connection over time with their child who is at risk and they begin to see the value of human contact, relationship with others, as well as feel less depressed and anxious, more motivated and interested in life outside of the computer. Call us today for more detailed information about how we support families and young people who struggle with Internet addiction and video game addiction.

The reality is young people do get violent when they cannot play their video games. Research shows withdrawal behaviors similar to chemical addiction. The withdrawal symptoms include, increased irritability, aggression, depression, and overall anxiety. When an addict is withdrawing from alcohol and other substances such as, benzodiazepines, in significant cases they are at risk of dying if they do not have medical support around them. Withdrawal from video game addiction will not cause someone to die due to seizures like the chemicals mentioned, however, it may induce a rage that becomes so out of control and irrational that the young people cannot control themselves. This can lead to suicide attempts, running away from home, violence towards parents and others. Research is finding that compulsive video game playing causes a shrinkage of the white matter in the brain, which is the area of the brain, that has to do with emotion and empathy.

A study found in, CYBERPSYCHOLOGY & BEHAVIOR Volume 10, Number 3, 2007© Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. DOI: 10.1089/cpb.2006.9942, found Negative effects of exposure to violence in online video games were detected. Playing violent video games was found to be significantly related to greater tolerance of violence, lower emphatic attitude toward others, and a higher level of aggression.

At Collegiate Coaching Services we are witnessing how the compulsive use of the Internet and violent video games are wreaking havoc in families and in the young person’s life. School failure, social isolation, increased phobias, anxiety, depression, loss of employment, increased alcohol and marijuana abuse, increased aggression and violence in the home and community, and fantasies of owning a gun or bow and arrow to “protect” oneself are common co-existing problems we find in our work with clients addicted to violent video games and the Internet.

Our team is hired by families to intervene and thankfully, we have not experienced clients who acted out violently towards others, not yet anyway. Our concern however is, many parents do not understand how their child’s constant use of video games and the Internet is either causing or increasing their child’s maladaptive behaviors, and therefore, do not seek professional help to intervene.

Schools are bringing in more and more technology and are struggling to understand how to promote healthy use of the Internet. Teachers and school counselors come to me at a loss about what to do. Those professionals on the front lines are experiencing concerns with technology use, such as video gaming and their students, but they can do little about it.

I encourage schools to educate their staff, as well as, parents about technology use and abuse. I encourage colleges and universities to require all in-coming freshman to take a class on healthy technology use, and to provide resources about where to go if they or someone they know is addicted.

Many school administrators and mental health professionals do not acknowledge this is a serious issue that negatively impacts the young people they work with, and therefore they are not speaking about it with their clients, their students, their staff, and the parents involved. Professional who are on the front lines and work with our young people must get educated and develop effective interventions and approaches when it comes to compulsive use of violent video games and the Internet. The more professionals understand, the more young people and their families we can help.

There is shame and guilt about being “addicted” to the Internet and video games. Many parents and young people feel alone with this problem because no one is talking about it.

We can’t stress enough to parents and professionals who work with young people the importance of educating yourself about video game and Internet addiction.

Educate yourself about the games children are playing and what they are exposed to. Educate yourself about the strong draw to the Internet; social networking sites, chat rooms, pornography, You Tube videos, etc.

Video games are neither inherently good nor inherently bad. But people learn. And content matters.”  (Psychological Bulletin; 2010, Vol 136, No. 2, 151-173)

If you would like to talk about the issue of violent video games and the Internet, contact us. We would love to connect.

Tracy Markle, MA, LPC

Collegiate Coaching Services; Owner & Clinical Director

Headshot of Tracy Markle




This is property of Collegiate Coaching Services, a Trade Name of Markle Solutions, LLC.  You must obtain permission to re-print, copy or distribute it for any purpose.

Wilderness Therapy Symposium-Boulder, CO September 2012



In a constant effort to educate our staff at Collegiate Coaching Services, two coaches attended an event hosted by the wilderness therapy industry.  Having received clients from the wilderness, it seemed apt to know what services our clients are receiving previous to coming to us.  Many lessons came from sharing this time, but perhaps no more valuable than trying to gain a big picture perspective of how each individual client is growing.

Wilderness, as such an accelerated period of growth, is largely formative for its participants. To maintain their spirit of maturation, CCS seeks to empathize, understand, and always learn about a client’s journey.  Communication with their previous program is also very important to us.  This practice solidifies a continuity of care that eases the changes associated with starting a new life.

Talking with many different therapists and education consultants, programs and various industry professionals, we were able to learn from some of the brightest minds in the field today.  Seasoned experts, longitudinal outcome studies, interviews with clients from very specific walks of life all made for a professionally enriching experience that helps us help those who seek us for it.

Headshot of Anthony RiskeAnthony Riske, Therapeutic Coach

Headshot of Julia Rees

Managing Finances

One very important life skill that is essential to living independently is financial management. Managing money is something that many young adults have little to no experience in, and it can be very difficult and confusing when living on one’s own for the first time. As our clients are transitioning into self-sufficiency, we work on things like opening and managing bank accounts, writing checks, paying bills and rent, and budgeting. We meet each client where they are in their financial experience and knowledge in order to create a method of financial management that works best for them and their individual needs. Coaches and clients use methods such as spread sheets, online resources, mobile apps, and paper and pen tracking of expenses in order to get a better idea of where a client’s money is going so we can make realistic spending goals. We then continue to track spending to make sure these goals are being met. Learning how to save and spend responsibly can be an empowering skill on a young adult’s journey towards independence.

Headshot of Julia Rees Julia Rees, Therapeutic Coach

Volunteering at Local Organic Farms

Experiential therapy is a non-traditional therapeutic approach that involves the incorporation of activities, real-life experiences, and hands-on approaches to explore things about ourselves and our surroundings. In other words, it’s a way to get your hands dirty and then learn from it! And in some ways, getting our hands dirty is exactly what we do here at Collegiate Coaching Services through volunteering at organic farms. Boulder, Colorado is a haven for the organic and local foods movement, and we’re lucky to have many organic farms, the Boulder Downtown Farmers Market that takes place on Wednesday and Saturdays, and restaurants and grocery stores that make buying and eating healthy food an affordable and convenient option.

Because the Boulder community is so in-touch with healthy living, working and volunteering for local farms is a great way to feel connected to both the earth as well as the community at large. While many farms in and right outside of Boulder offer (and greatly welcome) volunteering, I’ve volunteered with my clients at Cure Organic Farm, a local farm that provides certified organic vegetables and herbs to many downtown restaurants and farmers markets.

Spending your morning outdoors, making conversation and connections with other volunteers, kneeling on the ground and dirtying your hands in the soil that will support growth of something beautiful and nourishing is an experience that is both therapeutic and gratifying. Clients and coaches can be part of something bigger than ourselves when we contribute to something as natural and fundamental as growing food for the community in which we live.  This, along with the many other ways we strive to incorporate experiential therapy into our work with clients at Collegiate Coaching Services, helps clients find meaning through the world around them.

Headshot of Julia ReesJulia Rees, Therapeutic Coach

Connections With Furry Friends

Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms.

 –George Eliot


Here at Collegiate Coaching Services, not only do we believe in strong community connections with the people around us, but we also see the value that can come in connections with furry friends! Working with animals teaches responsibility, the importance of hard work and dedication, and can also provide companionship.

Boulder and the surrounding areas offer many great opportunities to get involved in working with animals. The Humane Society of Boulder Valley is a great place to volunteer and offers opportunities to work with cats and dogs. There are also multiple opportunities in which to get involved in working with horses, like Medicine Horse or Colorado Therapeutic Riding Center. If you’re looking for something a little more alternative, you can volunteer to work with raccoons, birds, squirrels, and more at the Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. And these are just a few examples! We help our clients get involved in programs such as these because we see the therapeutic value in working with animals, as well as putting our time to good use helping the community through volunteering.

Headshot of Julia ReesJulia Rees, Therapeutic Coach


Internet and Video Gaming and how they are affecting our young people

Internet and Video Gaming Problems

We are seeing more young people who are struggling to manage their time on computers and XBOX. They are losing touch with friends at school, dropping activities they used to enjoy, fighting more with parents, and are experiencing slipping grades. In addition, and quite concerning is young people are experiencing problems such as, increased social phobias, anxiety, depression, increased violence, decreased attention and school performance are as a result of excessive internet and gaming. Parents are challenged to figure out how to manage this problem, one which we are discovering is complicated and quite addicting to the developing brains of our young people. It is complicated because computers are everywhere. Most families in the US own a computer, if not 2 or 3. Many young people have computers in their bedrooms.

Facebook, World of Warcraft, , Call of Duty, League of Legends, Halo, Grand Theft Auto  are some examples of social-networking sites and games that young people have a dependency on.  MMORPGs or massive multi player on-line role-play games are of high concern regarding risk of dependency. Thousands of players from all over the world log onto these games and interact with each other. They form guilds, which is like a team. They work together to accomplish a goal. They play play together for months or years. World of Warcraft (WOW), Maple Story, and Everquest are examples of these games.

Many players report that the emotions they feel while playing an MMORPG are very strong, to the extent that 8.7% of male and 23.2% of female players in a statistical study have had an online wedding.Other researchers have found that the enjoyment of a game is directly related to the social organization of a game, ranging from brief encounters between players to highly organized play in structured groups.

In a study by Zaheer Hussain and Mark D. Griffiths, it was found that just over one in five gamers (21%) said they preferred socializing online to offline. Significantly more male gamers than female gamers said that they found it easier to converse online than offline.

I am focusing on this type of game because we are finding that it is one of the most problematic right now. In China and South Korea video game addiction is their most pressing public health problem. They have discovered several years ago what we are just learning now.

What causes these types of games to become potentially addictive? In order for the player to be successful, they are required to devote a lot of time and attention to the game. Your guild counts on you to be available. You have a responsibility to your new friends and do not want to let them down. Dopamine, which is a feel-good chemical, is released whenever an important task is accomplished, one that may have taken days or maybe weeks to complete. As a result, the player feels good and seeks more pleasure by playing the game.

Many times, the young people engaged in these games lack social skills and have issues with impulsivity, and find it difficult connecting with peers at school and in the community. Multi player games make a social network easily accessible to these young people. The teen or young adult with low self-esteem can also develop and portray a persona that they believe others will like. Young people report that some of their best friends are people they have never seen or talked to on the phone, but have met via the video games.

So what is the antidote? Helping your child develop social skills and how to handle emotions so they can connect to the real world. The experiences in the real world are anxiety provoking for a lot of gamers, so a support of a therapist or coach is advised. Parents, you will most likely be in the role of the enforcer, so finding a support system to assist you and your child will increase the chances of success.

Tracy Markle, MA, LPC

Dr. Hilarie Cash; Nationally recognized expert in Internet & Gaming Dependence



“Unplug and Get Connected”

Boulder, CO, (Sept 10th) 2012 – Collegiate Coaching Services a community-based therapeutic coaching program for young adults based in Boulder, CO; and Insight Intensive at Gold Lake an innovative, therapeutic residential program for young men 30 minutes west of Boulder, cordially invite you to attend an enlightening and educational evening with Dr. Hilarie Cash. She will address the growing problem of Internet and gaming dependency, excessive cell phone use and texting in our young people, solutions, and available resources.





Dr. Hilarie Cash is co-founder of reSTART: Internet Addiction Recovery Program (, the first and only residential treatment program for adults suffering from Internet and video game addiction. She began her pioneering work in this new field in the mid 90’s. By 1999 she had co-founded an outpatient clinic called Internet/Computer Addiction Services in Redmond, WA (home of Microsoft) and, in 2008, co-authored a book which is going into its second edition called Video Games and Your Kids: How Parents Stay in Control. All of these ongoing endeavors have brought her recognition as one of the nation’s leading experts in the growing field of Internet addiction.

According to an extensive study published in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2011, up to 10 % of young people in the U.S. meet the criteria for dependency in the areas of Internet and gaming. As a result of pathological gaming and Internet abuse, young people have increased social phobias, anxiety, depression, impulsivity, violence, decreased attention and school performance. Among males, who constitute the majority of players, the 15-to 25-year-old age group is expanding most significantly. In addition, those young people with lower social competence and greater impulsivity are at greater risk for Internet and gaming dependency.



What: “Unplug and get Connected”: A free community presentation open to professionals who work with young people, parents, teens, and young adults.

Who: Dr. Hilarie Cash, one of the nation’s leading expert on technology addiction, shares her knowledge, experience, and guidance in the areas internet, gaming, excessive cell phone use and texting problems in our young people.

When: September 13th, 2012 from 7:00-9:00 PM

Where: St. Julian, Room Xanadu II; 900 Walnut St.  Boulder, CO, 80302



Tracy Markle, MA, LPC


Health In Recreation


As a part of the therapeutic alliance formed between our coaches and clients, sometimes relaxation is as important as processing deeply seated issues or pounding the pavement for the perfect profession. From golf to putt-putt and rock climbing to hikes, we strive to provide a balanced level of life experience.  “All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy”, and dull is negligent to the fullness of enjoyment that we hope to inspire in anyone.

We believe that coupled with the approach: exposure to nature, and typical avenues of building relationships, recreational activities can allow for a more comprehensive therapeutic service.

Anthony Riske, Therapeutic Coach



Rock Climbing with Our Clients

Physical activity and social interaction are two important keys to a healthy life. At Collegiate Coaching Services, we strive to expose our clients to fun, healthy, and empowering activities that will expand their comfort zones and push them to achieve their full potential. Rock climbing, especially indoor, has continuously been a well-liked activity amongst our young adult clients (and our coaches!!). There are three rock climbing/bouldering gyms in Boulder, Movement, Boulder Rock Club, and The Spot. All offer annual, monthly, and daily passes. On Wednesday and Friday evenings, Phoenix Multisport, a sober, active community in town, hosts climbing at the Boulder Rock Club starting at 6pm. This free, weekly event allows us to interact with others who are working to live healthy lives, learn about rock climbing and participate in climbing clinics, and also stay active and have fun.˜

Headshot of Julia ReesJulia Rees, Therapeutic Coach