Do Violent Video Games Lead to Violent Behavior among Children

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When video games were first introduced they were advertised as an entertainment machine to entertain anyone but now, years later, we have advanced our technology vastly and the market flow has changed where the demand is now for lifelike simulated violence. Due to video games resembling real life so well, many parents and policymakers fear for the potential for real-life violence and have even named such video games as “murder simulators” (). In fact, prosecutor Steven F. Gruel alludes that there is an immense amount of examination which concludes that “viewing violence causes children to act” much “more violently” while defense attorney Patricia A. Millet argues the research is inconclusive, “with these researchers making claims about causation that cannot be substantiated:” ().

To understand the research and its conclusions we must understand how playing games influence neurological structure and functioning. We much also evaluate the extent of violent games impact on academics which should lead us to decide if the government should regulate violent game sales to children like they regulate tv and radio. And finally, if violence is different in terms of passivity or active participation. With exploring these topics, we can see if violent games are negatively effecting children and adolescents and if there is any truth to the phycological and impacts.


As we discussed earlier, violent video games were seen as a threat so the regulation of distributing video games was brought up and a California law was proposed that would ban the sale of violent video games to minors. This proposition brought video game enthusiasts and free-speech supporters who rose against not only the restrictions but also the implication that video games controlled their actions. The California law came before the U.S. Supreme Court, psychological research was called upon to help decide the issue. Both sides seemed to focus on neuroscience research, which some consider a specialty of psychology, as ammunition for their arguments. Eventually the Court ruled the law unconstitutional claiming it limited free speech.

However, the battle over the ultimate effects of media violence continues. Steven F. Gruel probably represents those who consider video games a danger. A former federal prosecutor and lead legal counsel for the case before the Supreme Court, Gruel claims that neuroscience research indicates that playing video games increases violent behavior, and thus presents a clear risk to the nation’s youth. He believes that a general conclusion from the scientific literature “can be drawn without any reasonable doubt”: video game use is a “causal risk factor” resulting in several negative outcomes, including physically aggressive behavior, lowered school performance, loss of “proactive control” to inhibit impulsive actions, damaged higher-level thinking, and decreased emotional control. From Gruel’s perspective, “the scientific debate about whether exposure to media violence causes increases in aggressive behavior is over.”

The scientific community has come to an overwhelming consensus about the effects of violent video games on children. Studies show that exposure to simulated violence increases aggression in children. Numerous studies show a significant correlation between viewing and then performing aggressive acts. Neuroscience research shows that playing violent video games rewires the brain for later physical violence.

In the NO selection, however, Patricia A. Millett, counsel of record for opponents to the California law, argues that this debate is not over. She says that the conclusion of the opposition “is based on profoundly flawed research.” Millett rejects this research based on its methodological limitations, noting that it not only fails to show causation but also is suspect even as a correlation. She criticizes the research for relying on “proxies for aggression that do not correlate with aggressive behavior in the real world.”

Millett argues that whatever correlations may or may not be in play between video game use and violent behavior, there are other, more relevant variables that confound the research, such as family violence at home, antisocial personality tendencies, and the influence of peers. No such consensus exists, and there is much research arguing that there is no negative effect of violent video games on children’s behavior. Previous studies have used poor definitions of aggression, which do not correlate with real-world behavior. Correlation can never be causation, which means that other factors can account for violent behavior, such as violence at home. Neuroscience studies describe changes in the brain, but can- not adequately address the causes of those change

Analysis and Response

Wolfenstein 3D is a “first-person shooter” game and in such the view is in first person, rather than third person like many games beforehand. The player fights, kills, and dies. Steven Kent, a video game historian, noted that “part of Wolfenstein 3D popularity sprang from its shock value. In Wolfenstein 3D, enemies fell and bled on the floor”. Video games have become more graphically violent (for example the enemies would fall, and bleed compared to now where you can see bones of enemies) and the average time children played these games have continued to climb. “In a recent survey of over 600 eighth and ninth-grade students, children averaged 9 hours per week of playing video games”.

In 1993, United States Senators Joseph Lieberman and Herbert Kohl held hearings to examine the issue of increased playing of video games. The senators pushed on the video game industry to create a system to rate games which would provide information to parents about the content of the games. However, this failed as according to the article “70 top-selling video games found 49% contained serious violence [with] 41% of the games, violence was necessary for the protagonists to achieve their goals.”.

Playing violent games regularly will most likely elevate the seriousness of physical aggression in the long and short term as the children age. The reason being that video games are “active participation” meaning the player decided to do the violent act, result in a greater effect from violent video games than a violent movie. After conducting three very different kinds of studies (experimental, a cross- sectional correlational study, and a longitudinal study) the results confirmed that violent games contribute to violent behavior. Basically, “adolescents who expose themselves to greater amounts of video game violence were more hostile, reported getting into arguments with teachers more frequently, were more likely to be involved in physical fights, and performed more poorly in school” (). Several studies have documented a negative relation between amount of time playing video games and school performance among children, adolescents, and college students. In one nationally representative US sample of 1,491 youth between 10 and 19, gamers spent 30% less time reading and 34% less time doing homework. Therefore, even if poor school performance tends to cause increases in time playing video games, large amounts of video game play are likely to further hurt their school performance

The relationship between media violence and real- life aggression is strong but not everyone who views media violence will become aggressive themselves. nonetheless, we can’t ignore the significance. To contemplate the effects of playing video games there were a few methods in which they observed this effect, “The General Aggression Model and its offshoot the General Learning Model describe the basic learning processes and effects involved in both short-term and long-term effects of playing various types of games. The Five Dimensions of Video Game Effects perspective describes different aspects of video games and video game play that influence the specific effects likely to occur. The Risk and Resilience perspective describes the effects of video game play—prosocial, antisocial, and other—take place within a complex set of social and biological factors, each of which contribute[s] to development of the individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors”.

In psychological terms the participants range from “low-violence collectivistic type Eastern countries (e.g., Japan), and from high- violence individualistic type Western countries (e.g., USA, Europe)”. What was found was that exposure to violent video games reduces the player’s use of some brain areas involved in higher order thought and impulse control. There was increased activity in a part of the brain that governs emotional arousal and the same teenagers showed decreased activity in the parts of the brain involved in focus, inhibition, and concentration.

Youth who play a lot of violent video games show a deficit in a specific type of executive control known as proactive control. Proactive control is seen as necessary to inhibit impulsive reactions. This difference shows up in the brain wave patterns as well as in behavioral reactions. In short, neuroscience research supports a critical link between perpetration of virtual violence with reduced activation of a neural mechanism known to be important for self-control and for evaluation of affect. These findings strongly suggest that focusing on the activity of pre- frontal cortical structures important for executive control could provide important mediational links in the relation- ship between exposure to violent media and increased aggression.

“First, there are many different effects of playing video games on the player. Some of these are short term, whereas others are long term. Second, the specific effects depend on a host of factors, including the content, structure, and con- text of the game. Third, the same game can have multiple effects on the same person, some of which may be generally beneficial whereas others may be detrimental. Fourth, playing violent video games is a causal risk factor for a host of detrimental effects in both the short and the long term[s], including increasing the likelihood of physically aggressive behavior” ().

All considerable types of research methodologies (such as: intervention studies, cross-sectional correlational studies, including experiments, meta-analyses, and longitudinal studies) conclude the same idea; “exposure to media violence is associated with increased aggressions or violence”. Witnessing violence and aggression leads to a range of negative outcomes for children. The question ends on when we will control these games for the sake of our children, the future we rely on.

Cite this paper

Do Violent Video Games Lead to Violent Behavior among Children. (2021, Oct 06). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/do-violent-video-games-lead-to-violent-behavior-among-children/

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