With constant advances in technology, children are finding new ways of spending their afternoons. Instead of playing catch outside or riding their bikes to a neighbor’s house, many children have resorted to sitting in front of a television and playing their favorite video game.
Some people believe that video games do not have a serious effect on young children. However, research has repeatedly proven that violence in video games is having a negative effect on kids and the way they behave. Some of the games can increase a person’s aggressive thoughts and make them behave very violently.
Video games provoke violent thoughts and actions as the games are becoming too graphic for the kids and they’re giving them knowledge about the utilization of guns and fighting skills. The video games are making kids act out violent crimes and making them very aggressive because sometimes they think it’s acceptable to do what the characters do. Violent video games also have an immediate effect on a child’s mood, mind, and their brain development.
Many kids enjoyed playing violent games because they were very entertaining to play and there was a lot of action and excitement in them. Also it was a rush for the kids to shoot people and blow things up. In a study that was done, which researched video game playing among 357 seventh and eighth grade students? The kids were asked to pick their favorite type of video game among five categories.
The category that was most preferred was games that involved violence. Nearly 32% of the kids said they liked violent video games over any other type of game. Less than 2% of the children enjoyed playing educational games. (Funk, 86-90) The reason the students gave for liking violent video games more was that there is so much action in them and you can never get bored.
Although video games are designed to be entertaining, challenging, and sometimes educational, most include violent content and many have very explicit graphics. The problem is that even though they are games, the ones involving shooting can teach some real skills about using weapons. A person who becomes good at handling a pistol or shotgun to kill fake enemies on a television screen can very easily turn those skills onto real people.
And, in the process of playing the game, one becomes desensitized to the horror of real killing. Thus, if the killing ever does become real, it is carried out with a complete lack of empathy for the victims. There was an analysis done which showed that 89% of games showed some sort of violence (Children Now, 5-6), and that almost half of the video games that are out in the stores showed some extreme violence to other characters in the game. (Dietz, 425-42)
Therefore, most of the games being bought by children contain some sort of violence in them. So violent video games are now becoming more popular and research has shown that these games are having negative effects on children. Kids sometimes don’t realize that these games are only for fun and they shouldn’t imitate what the game does. Thus, games sometimes can confuse reality with fantasy.
For example, in games like Goldeneye 007 bad guys no longer disappear when they are killed. Instead they get killed in a very violent way with blood going all over the place. For example, those shot in the neck fall to the ground and blood squirts out their necks that cause them to grab their throats. Games like Unreal Tournament and Half-Life are very explicit and are very gorier.
When characters get shot blood goes all over the place and when they fall there is blood surrounding the dead body. Also sometimes explosives are used and when they throw it at characters they blow up into small pieces. (APA, 78/4) Even though these games are so graphic, violent video games are the most popular games to be sold today.
When these games came out kids were very addicted to them and some people believe that because the games are so graphic and violent the gamers are showing more aggressive tendencies after playing these violent games.
There are many kids in which are becoming very violent and aggressive over the video games. In a study by Karen E. Dill violent video games increase aggression more then violent movies or television shows due to their interactive and engrossing nature. The two studies showed if a child is already aggressive they are now even vulnerable to violent video games and even if they get a brief exposure to the games it can increase their aggressive behavior. (Dill)
There has been some research that has been done which demonstrates individual differences in response to the effects of violent video games. For example, a couple of studies showed that trait hostility might moderate the effects of playing video games.
Lynch has found that the physiological effects of playing violent video games may be even greater for children who already show more aggressive tendencies. Adolescents who scored in the top quintile for trait hostility showed greater increases in mean arterial pressure, epinephrine, and nor-epinephrine levels in the blood than those in lower quintiles. (Lynch, 152)
Therefore video games cause aggression and violence in children because they are interactive, realistically portray violence, and dangerously appeal to children. Violent video games also have an immediate effect on a child’s mood, mind, and there brain development. Because they have encountered so much warfare, and gun-use in video games, children act as if they have to always be on-guard. Through many studies, scientists have observed that children develop a defiant attitude. They come to believe that every one is against them and consequently take advantage of every opportunity to create conflict.
Obviously, violence is not an acceptable way of solving conflicts, especially for young children. The violence can also affect children’s minds when they sleep. The article, “Media Violence” states that video games have significant effects on children such as nightmares when sleeping and fear of being harmed (Gentile, 19-37).
The violence comes back in their dreams and severely scares them. For example, a seven-year-old boy, John Paul, played a violent video game every day after school for a month last year with his older brother. Every night, around 10:30pm, he would run into his parents’ bedroom crying because he had seen the images from the game trying to attack him in his dream.
These effects on a child’s mind are powerful. With video games, children are repeatedly exposed to excessive violence and subconsciously fear the consequences of the enemies in their games. For young children, this fear of harm is real. In their still undeveloped minds, virtual violence is no different that actual violence. Video game violence is the most dangerous and influential in children under eight years old because their memories recall the violence as actually occurring. The first eight years of a child’s life are the most important years of brain development (Gentile, 19-37).
Studies have shown that during this time, their minds cannot distinguish reality from fantasy when the events become memories (Gentile, 19-37). Therefore, when a child plays violent video games, those memories are stored in his mind as a vivid reality.
“Because children younger than the age of 8 cannot discriminate between fantasy and reality, they are uniquely vulnerable to learning and adopting as reality the circumstances, attitudes, and behaviors portrayed [by video games],” (Anderson, 772-90). The violence affects children heavily, causing nightmares, anti-social attitudes, and an exaggerated fear of harm (Gentile, 19-37).
Many games are limiting the amount of violence they put in their game and also many games are being banned from the shelves because they are too violent.
Also parents are setting guidelines for the types of video games their children play and being aware of the content in their children’s video games. Because the younger the child, the more impressionable he or she is, and less experienced in evaluating content.” Even though a child may be chronologically a certain age, their social and emotional level of maturity may be different. Parents need to decide what is in the best interest of their children.”(Anderson, 772-90) Thus there have been many strides made, to try to restrict some of the violence in these video games and limit what is children play.
As children grow up in their household, they are sometimes rewarded for kind and caring behavior. Many parents expect their children to treat one another with respect and love. By constant exposure to gruesome violence, the nature of video games makes this peaceful environment impossible to achieve.
Video games cause aggression and anti-social attitudes in children because they are interactive, realistically portray violence, and dangerously appeal to children. They are having such a negative effect on kids and are becoming a major problem in America. Society must become aware of these effects caused by video games so that we can promote a peaceful and loving generation of children that respect everyone and everything.
Anderson, C.A., and K.E. Dill. Video Games and Aggressive Thoughts, Feelings, and Behavior in the Laboratory and Life. “Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78 (2000): 772-790.
Children Now. Fair Play? Violence, Gender and Race in Video Games. Los Angeles, CA: Children Now, 2001. 5-6
Dietz, T.L. (1998). “An Examination of Violence and Gender Role Portrayals in Video Games: Implications For Gender Socialization and Aggressive Behavior. Sex Roles 38 (1998): 425-442.
Funk, J.B. “Reevaluating the Impact of Video Games.” Clinical Pediatrics 32, 2 Feb. 1993: 86-90.