The Effects of Violent Video Games on the Behavior of Children

Studies on the exposure to media propose that playing video games featuring violence leads to violent behavior. Analysis of the video-game study indicates that video games depicting violence lead to the increment of aggressive conduct in kids and young persons. Studies also reveal that exposure to aggressive video games heightens physiological arousal and violent-related opinions and emotions. Playing aggressive video games also has been noted to lead to the reduction of pro-social behavior. Video games industry officials disagree that their products are harmful. For instance, during an interview with the CNN, the president of the Digital Software Association, Doug Lowenstein, has stated that the issue has been exaggerated by politicians and that there is no evidence linking playing aggressive video games to aggressive conduct. School shootings in different towns by people, who were habitual players of aggressive video games, however, negate Lowenstein’s claims. For example, in 1999, in Littleton, Harris and Klebold, the students who had killed 13 persons and injured 23 before they killed themselves, regularly played Doom, the bloody video game. Harris is said to have established a modified version of Doom with the two people shooting, additional weapons, unrestricted ammunition and players, who have not been in a position to fight back. These features were strangely alike to the features of real shootings in

The controversy over violent video games started in 1976 after the game known as Death Race was released. The purpose of the game was running over screaming gremlins with a car to change them into tombstones. The reason for the controversy was the fact that gremlins looked like stick-figured people and there were reports that the working name of the game was inappropriate. In 2005, the American Psychological Association passed a resolution requesting to ban the production and marketing of violent video games because they were linked to aggression towards women. In 2005, Hillary Clinton sponsored a bill seeking to make it illegal to sell mature-rated video games to minors. Though the bill failed, her argument was that violent video games were a hushed widespread of desensitization.

Video-Games Statistics The United States people consume a lot of media violence. Persons aged between 8 and 18 spend above 40 hours every week on a certain type of media, which does not include assignments. Television is used regularly, but electronic video games are quickly gaining popularity. Approximately 10% of kids ranging between 2 and 18 years play computer video games at least 1 hour every day. Boys aged from 8 to 13 spend 7.5 hours every week on average playing these games.

Although the first video games were introduced during the late 1970s, aggressive video games were introduced in the 1990s. The new aggressive video games included Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat and Wolfenstein. The main assignment in these games was maiming, injuring or killing opponents. The special effects such as the blood and the screams used in these games were horrifying during their introduction. At the end of 20th century there was an introduction of more graphic aggressive games availed to players irrespective of their ages. Despite many educational and sports games or others, the most marketed and bought games are the ones featuring violence. Ratings provided by the video games industry are not similar to those offered by game-playing adults and youths. The industry categorizes the most games including violence by cartoonlike casts as appropriate for all audience, which has been disapproved by adults. The lack of parental attention is another problem. Students from 8th to 12th grade have reported that 90 % of their parents do not check the video game ratings before giving them permission to buy such. Only 1% of the parents were reported to prevent a purchase based on the game rating.

Violence on Television and the Movies Years of research on the impacts of exposure to different media channels have revealed that even a short-term exposure to violent media scenes leads to a significant increment of aggression. Children repeatedly exposed to media violence have been reported to be more aggressive in their youth.

Exposure to violent media leads to more aggression and violence because the representation of aggression mostly affects knowledge, stimulation and the use of aggression-connected information structures kept in the memory. Conditional input variables such as recent exposure to violent media increase aggressive conduct through their effect on individual’s current internal state. Representation of these effects includes mental arousal and other emotional variables. Aggressive media increases violence through showing the audience the means of aggression, priming violent cognitions, which are inclusive of previously seen violent scripts and perceptual schemata, and through the increment of arousal or creation of a violent affective state. People learn the means of perceiving, interpreting, judging and responding in their social and physical surroundings since infancy. With time, these different forms of knowledge-structured roles evolve. They depend on daily observations and interactions with the real and imaginary people as depicted by media. Every episode of violent media is an additional learning experience. The more frequently the children rehearse these knowledge structures, the harder it is for them to change. Studies on the development of behavioral script propose that even a small number of rehearsals is enough to change individual’s anticipations and motives towards essential social conducts.

Pro-Social Behavior Discussions of media violence regularly include the reduction of pro-social conduct as additional negative effect. Two main issues arise from the deliberation of violent video games. First, whether exposure to aggressive video games relates to increment in aggression. This question needs empirical research for the assessment of the relationship between exposure to aggressive video games and violence. Second question entails how exposure to aggressive video games leads to the increment of aggression. This one needs an analysis of the fundamental processes, particularly reasoning, stimulation and effect. However, only the reasoning is specifically related to aggressive content of aggressive video games. Nonviolent games can also lead to the increment of aggressive effect through the production of high levels of frustration, for example. In the same way, nonviolent exciting games can lead to arousal or stimulation. However, only violent games can directly facilitate major violent thoughts and result in the stimulation of the long-term aggressive knowledge structures. Frustrating video games that do not depict any violence can indirectly cause increment of violent reasoning or cognition through the connections between thoughts and emotions. Eight independent study experiments were conducted to reveal the relationship between aggressive video games and pro-social conduct. The experiment involved 676 participants who revealed average negative and significant impact. There were fewer studies to necessitate the moderator analysis hence the effects were divided into experimental and non-experimental. Seven experimental tests revealed average effects of – .17. The findings implied that aggressive video games led to a temporary reduction in pro-social conduct. The remaining two non-experimental tests indicated average effects of -.14 Therefore, exposure to aggressive video games is negatively connected to helping in the actual world.

Twenty independent tests were conducted to find out the relation between video game aggression and aggressive cognition. The tests involved 1,495 participants and the results showed an average positive and significant impact. Aggressive video games caused the increment of aggressive thoughts in men and women, children and grownups in both experimental settings. Therefore, aggressive video games can cause a short-term increase in aggression through the increment of aggressive thoughts. 1,151 participants were involved in seventeen independent tests of the relationship between video games aggression and its aggressive impact. The results indicated an average impact that was significant and positive. The games caused an increment of aggressive thoughts in women and men, children and grownups in both settings. Most of these tests were experimental, which shows a causal link between exposure to aggressive video games and violent reasoning. The findings also suggested that aggressive video games could increase aggression through the increment of feelings of hostility and rage.

395 participants engaged in seven independent tests conducted to reveal the relationship between violent video games and physical arousal. The results indicated that exposure to violent video games led to the increment of physical arousal. The indicators of arousal examined in the studies were systolic blood pressure, heart rate and diastolic blood pressure. The findings supported the hypothesis that exposure to aggressive video games is a great danger to the health of children and adults. Exposure is positively related to increased aggression levels in males and females, children and adults. Moreover, exposure has a negative relationship with pro-social conduct.

Additionally, exposure has been positively related with the mechanism causing long-term impacts on violent personality development. Finally, violent video games exposure was revealed to have a positive relationship with aggressive effect and physical arousal. Additionally, exposure of a child to violent video games is associated with lower empathy and reduced kindness. A study indicated that a child who is exposed to violent video games is more likely to lack empathy and positive acts that are beneficial to others. Eight independent experiments that measured the effect of aggressive video games on pro-social conduct revealed a significant negative effect. The study concluded that exposure to violent video games has negative relationship with helping behavior in the real world. Children who have been highly exposed to violent media have a high tendency of displaying lower ethical reasoning skills as compared to their peers, who have not been exposed to such media. Violent video games also have been said to lead to an increment of aggressive thoughts, rage feelings, aggressive conducts and reduced empathic emotions and pro-social conducts.

Relationship Between Video Games, Bullying Cases and School-Shootings Playing video games also have been associated with the desensitization of children to the real-life acts of violence, which is the reason for increased bullying rate. In 2007, there were reports of 32% of students between 12 and 18 years bullied at school in comparison to the 5% reported during the year 1999. There are concerns that violent video games make children know that using violence can be an appropriate means of solving disputes and attaining goals. Studies indicated that approximately 60% of middle schooled boys who played more than one mature-rated game beat someone up in comparison to 39% of boys and 14% of girls that had not played such games. Other studies have revealed that children playing mature-rated games show higher likelihood of bullying and cyber bullying their age mates, getting into physical fights and showing aggression towards their age mates during the school year.

Additionally, violent video games simulate aggression like shooting guns, which can lead to real-life violence. Video games regularly require players to simulate aggressive acts such as stabbing, shooting and using weapons like chainsaw to dismember someone. Game controllers are very sophisticated and their games appear very realistic, which heightens the learning of the violent conducts. A 2015 study found convincing evidence that using controllers can significantly affect the level of cognitive violence. Two Tennessee teenagers told the police officers that they had used the ideas from the game known as Grand Theft III to shoot passing cars. In addition, there were reports that first-person shooting games train players to be more accurate in shooting even outside the game and make their chances of aiming for the head higher.

Studies also have revealed that most people who engage in a mass shooting are the players of violent video games. For example, the 1999 teenage shooters in Columbian High School played aggressive video games. The perpetrators of the Colorado movie theatre shooting and the Arizona shooting confessed that they trained using Modern Warfare 2. Statement made by an FBI implies that a person, who spends significant time playing violent video games makes violent threats, should be regarded as credible. Additionally, through inhabiting violent casts in video games, children are more probable to copy the conducts of these casts and have a hard time differentiating reality from a fantasy. Since video games need active participation and identification with aggressive characters, they lead to reinforcement of the violent conduct. Therefore, young children have a high likelihood of confusing fantasy violence with the violence exhibited in the real world. Since they do not have a strong foundation for making ethical decisions, they may imitate the actions they experience in the games. Reports indicate bigger psychological harm to the child when they act in violence, which happens when they are playing these games.

Today, children and youths are loaded with electronic media having access to computers, cell phones and regularly playing aggressive video games. Many studies have sought to examine the effect of violent video games on children. Some of the studies researched whether playing aggressive video games increases the levels of violence or leads to the increment of aggressive behavior. The variables used in these studies included the time that the participants spent on different genres of video games and the time of exposure to violent scenes as a preference for aggressive games. Pro-social behavior also was studied as a dependent variable and a negative relationship between aggressive video games and pro-social conduct was revealed.

These studies have shown that there is a cause-and-effect relationship between the video-game violence and aggression. Children were revealed to be more likely to copy the actions of the character they are able to identify with. In violent video games, the players participate as a character and have the liberty of choosing the weapons they will use to fight other characters. Additionally, video games require active participation instead of passive observation. This makes the players more involved in the game almost giving them a real life experience. In addition, repetition of such behavior heightens the learning processes. Additionally, rewards have been seen as great learning motivators and the video games using a reward system encourage the players to be perfect and internalize the content of the game. These games have been said to desensitize the persons playing to violence and aggression through rewarding them for the simulation of violence and demonstrating that the use of violence is an appropriate means for resolving conflicts. Children who regularly play the violent video games also have been reported to exhibit the lack of empathy.

As another side effect of playing violent video games, children have a reduced a capacity of making rational decisions as compared to adults. This makes them unable to distinguish between what they should practice in games and in a real life. Consequently, this has led to more cases of violence at schools and at home, because children are practicing what they learn playing aggressive video games. Their diminished rational thinking ability in relation to playing these games has been demonstrated at various mass and school shootings. It is important for necessary measures to be put in place to ensure that children are no longer exposed to these damaging games as they have negative effects on their lives, which has been revealed in various studies. Additionally, parents should be cautious when buying or allowing their children to purchase mature-rated video games.

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June 01, 2020


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