Children are being affected by graphic content in video games, including violence and prostitution, a YouGov survey has found.
One in four parents said that they notice a negative change in behaviour when their children play certain video games.
A third of parents interviewed felt that gaming was occupying so much of their children’s time that it was hampering their physical activity.
The survey, commissioned by 5 News, asked parents about their children’s interaction with video games, including age 18 rated games such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty.
In Call of Duty players shoot and kill each other for points, while in Grand Theft Auto, players can murder, steal and solicit prostitutes.
Child protection expert Sharon Girling believes part of the problem is that many parents do not understand how graphic the games are even if they are age rated.
She said: “I listen to the language that some of these young people are starting to use and they are not getting it from television – they are actually getting it from the games”.
There have long been fears about the impact of gaming on children’s health, both mental and physical.
Peter Smith, an addictions counsellor said an obsession with video games is as powerful as drug addiction.
He said: “There are some examples of young people who end up in hospital with conditions caused by sitting endlessly in one position”.
In March this year, researchers at Iowa State University found that children who repeatedly play violent computer games act out in real life what they see on screen.
The study of 3,000 children over three years, found that children start to think more aggressively and lose their sensitivity to violence.
It also showed that when provoked at home or school children will react in a similar way to when they were playing the game.