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Violent Videogames Attract Criticism Again

4, and Far Cry Vengeance, all rated M, are among the eight Wii games with violent content listed on the ESRB website.

"The more realistic and involving the game gets, and the greater the similarity between the action in the game and real life action, the stronger the negative effects would be," says Joanne Cantor, a Wisconsin research psychologist who has spent 30 years studying the effects of media violence on children. "No, your son may not turn into a criminal. But exposure will take a toll on his life somewhere, probably in interpersonal relationships. These are subtle effects. They take time to surface. A teen isn't going to notice them."

Child advocates such as the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial - Free Childhood say violent games such as Manhunt 2 should be kept out of teenagers' hands. "I shudder to think of teenage boys playing this," says child psychiatrist Alvin Poussaint , director of the Media Center at the Judge Baker Children's Center, which houses the CCFC. "The level of participation makes the game worse than any that preceded it. It might not make anyone a killer, but could it make someone prone to domestic violence or child abuse?"

David Finkelhor , co director of the Family Research Lab at the University of New Hampshire, says no game alone is going to drag a child into criminal activity. "It's when you have other potentiating factors -- family problems, mental health issues, extreme stress, dangerous neighborhoods," he says. "Playing these games with or without the Wii enhancement is not going to take the typical teenage boy and make a killer out of him."

In fact, he says, in the 10 or 12 years in which violent video games have proliferated, the juvenile crime rate has gone down, as have school homicides.

Pediatrician Michael Rich , director of the Center on Media and Child Health at Children's Hospital, says there is a solid body of research to show that exposure to screen violence
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