Footage of 3-year-old playing violent video game shocks internet

Would you let your toddler play a game designed for players aged 17 and above?

Shocking video has emerged of a 3-year-old boy playing the hyper-realistic, violent video game Call of Duty Mobile, with one expert expressing concerns over the alarming moment.

The viral clip shows the toddler babbling away as he confidently moves his character around the game environment, discharging an assault rifle, killing enemies and assessing potential threats from other players.

Although there are hundreds of comments on the original TikTok video praising the boy's skill, parents who found the clip on other platforms weren't so impressed. "It's a big NO for me. He should be playing Barney games at this age," wrote an Instagram user. One parent went further by noting she'd be fearful of her children associating with the boy in the video.

Call of Duty Mobile video game still
Video game Call of Duty Mobile is classified 17+ due to frequent and intense realistic violence, among other themes. Source: Activision

Available on Apple and Android devices, the Activision game is a mobile spin-off of the first-person shooter video game Call of Duty, commonly referred to as COD. It has an age classification of 17+ on Apple's App Store as it features "frequent/intense realistic violence" as well as infrequent "mild horror/fear themes", "mild profanity or crude humour" and "mild mature/suggestive themes". It is likewise classified 17+/Mature on Google Play based on the presence of "blood, strong language, violence".

Concerns for young players

Professor Ofir Turel from Melbourne University studies a broad range of behavioural, managerial and bio-physiological issues related to the use of computers and related technologies. Speaking to Yahoo News about the video, Professor Turel said that although he's not aware of the specifics of this case, it does raise concerns.

One issue is the amount of screen time that goes into becoming proficient at the game. "Playing COD at this level obviously requires practice. The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends zero screen time at ages 0-2 and one hour per day of selective screen time, i.e. of educational programs, at ages 2-5," Professor Turel said.

"This is because there is growing evidence of mostly negative (and a few positive) effects of media consumption at young age," he explained. "For instance, studies found that more screen time in 2 year olds is associated with poorer cognitive and social development outcomes at 3 years. In my own studies on video gaming in older children, I found links to poor sleep and obesity. In addition, there is an ongoing debate on the effects of playing violent games. Some suggest that this can lead to adopting more aggressive attitudes and behaviours."

'Not to be encouraged'

"Such studies have typically been done with adolescents and adults, so it is difficult to judge whether they apply to young children," Professor Turel continued. "For example, in adolescents, excessive gaming can be associated with behaviours such as bringing guns to school. Overall, it seems like using video games and reaching this level at this young age is not something that should be generally encouraged."

The professor says that this does not mean video gaming is "bad", it just means that gaming should be done "in moderation", and at an "appropriate age", when it can be "beneficial and entertaining."

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