Bad Influences: Amanda and Erik

Bad Influences: Amanda and Erik
Dr. Phil speaks with guests who say someone they love is a bad influence.
Amanda wants Dr. Phil's advice: "My husband has been spending what he calls 'quality time' with our 3-year-old son by playing violent video games where they say things like 'I'm going to shoot your ass!' and 'Kill him! Kill him!' Not to mention the blood that comes from the dead bodies.

"Dr. Phil, I do not approve of this at all. My husband knows I don't want our son playing these games and yet he still encourages it. I am worried our son is going to turn out like one of the kids involved in the Columbine shootings if he continues to play these dreadful games. Am I over-reacting, or is this harmless for our son?" asks Amanda.
"You think these are just offensive?" Dr. Phil asks Amanda.

"They bother me. Absolutely," she says.

"Does it bother you that it bothers her?" he asks Erik.

"Well, she really hasn't made much of a fuss of it with me," says Erik.

"You're on the Dr. Phil show! That's a clue," he says.

Amanda says speaking with Erik about it gets her nowhere. "I'm hoping that hearing it from somebody else will make him understand. I just can't believe that Nicholas is exposed to all of this," she says.

"What if she's right? What if she's right that this has a negative impact on your son? Would you change it?" Dr. Phil asks Erik.

"Yeah. If it bothered her that much or he showed any signs that he thinks the game is real."

Pointing out that their 3-year-old has already called his mother an ass, Dr. Phil asks, "Did he hear that on the Disney channel?"

"No, he probably picked it up from me," admits Erik.
Dr. Phil points out that Erik is not a bad father. "You consider this to be quality time with him, interacting with him and playing games, but you spend other time with him ... The point is, you're just wrong."

Because of the prevalence of video games these days, parents need to be aware of the effect they have on children. "The number one negative effect is they tend to inappropriately resolve anxiety by externalizing it," he explains. "So when kids have anxiety, which they do, instead of soothing themselves, calming themselves, talking about it, expressing it to someone, or even expressing it emotionally by crying, they tend to externalize it. They can attack something, they can kick a wall, they can be mean to a dog or a pet."

Dr. Phil explains there is also an increased frequency of violent responses from children who play these kind of video games. "And they do it without any moral consequences. See, if you shoot somebody in one of these games, there's no moral consequence. You don't go to jail, you don't get penalized in some way — you get extra points!"
Dr. Phil continues: "Do kids that use video games go and shoot other people? There's no evidence of that ... But they do use more aggressive language, they do use more aggressive images, they have less ability to control their anger and they externalize things in these violent ways. It's absolutely not good. And it is not quality time." He suggests playing a board game together or going for a walk and exploring things together.

Erik agrees with Dr. Phil's opinion.

"The research is really clear. This one is not a close call," says Dr. Phil.

At the end of the show, Dr. Phil says, "As a parent you have to think about what kind of role model you are. When we talk to kids about values and we talk to kids about discipline, the whole idea is that they'll internalize that and then when you're not there, they'll use that same information to make choices and decisions. So you have to be real careful about what you're modeling and if you're seeing behavior that you're not liking, you need to look at that like a mirror and see what you may have done that prompted, suggested or at least allowed that in your own kids. It's not about guilt. It's just about analyzing the situation to see what you can do more effectively."