How Violent Video Games Affect Children

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Looking back, as a child I vividly remember playing with my dolls and using my imagination to create scenarios and entertain myself. I now flash forward 7 or 8 years and see my step brothers, all between the ages of 8 and 12, standing in front of the television with video game controllers in their hands at all hours of the day. With the extreme popularity of video games amongst the youth comes great discussion of what impact these games, especially the violent ones, have on developing minds. Living in a house with three young boys, who are avid video game players, I often hear them get riled up as they are playing these games. This behavior always carries on even after they stop playing; the constant fighting, cursing screaming, crying, and aggression is notably visible.

I’ve always question whether the violent video game I had seen them playing earlier in the day could be related to the outbreaks and fighting that I witness later in those evenings. To my knowledge, and after extensive research, it has been classified that video games are highly addictive for young children and lead to negative impacts on behavior including aggression. Much of the research conducted on the link between violent video games and children’s behavior is done through trials. Trails that involve children viewing violence on a screen then being left in a room to play.

Virtually, the children that viewed violence, versus the kids that viewed the same clip with the violence cut out, appeared to play more aggressively. One of the most known trials to support this topic involved showing preschoolers a video of an adult playing with an inflatable bobo doll very aggressively. The video went on to show an adult punching and kicking the doll numerous times. The children were then brought into a room with the same doll as well as other toys. It was studied that the children not only played just as aggressively with the bobo doll but also showed aggression towards all of the toys in the room. It was concluded that seeing aggressive behavior caused overall aggression in the children (Bandura, Ross, & Ross, 1963).

With that being said, research conducted children has reported an increase in aggressive behavior with those that play violent video games compared to those that play nonviolent video games (Anderson, Gentile & Buckley, 2007; Durkin & Barber, 2002; Konijin, Bijvank & Bushman, 2004). Another factor includes the fact that we do live in a violent world and there has been increasing worry from parents of children who participate in playing these violent video games. This issue has garnered much attention after the numerous school shootings that have taken place in America these past few years. Specifically, after the investigation of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school took place.

The man responsible for the shooting, Adam Lanza, was found to be an avid video game player. It was found, once his house was searched, that Lanza owned the typical first-person shooter, fighting and action games: Call of Duty, Dead or Alive, Grand Theft Auto (Toppo, 2015). It is obviously not certain that these games lead him to commit this terrible act of violence, but it does support the questioned link between playing violent video games and expressing that violence in real life. Researchers are aware that the topic of guns increases worry and concern. With that being said, Researchers from Ohio State University conducted a trail on a group of 8 to 12-year-old children. They were brought into a lab and shown a 20-minute version of a popular PG-rated movie—either the Rocketeer (1991) or National Treasure (2004).

In the edited movie, the children either saw that actual movie footage, which contained characters using guns, or they watched a version where the guns were edited out. They were then presented with a large room that contained various toys including Legos, nerf guns, and games. The children who watched the movie with the guns played more aggressively than children who watched the movie with the guns edited out, consistent with previous research (Dillon, & Bushman, 2017). The kids who watched the movie that contained gun footage were more likely to pull the trigger of the real gun; on average, they pulled it about 2 to 3 times, and spent 4 to 5 times longer holding it when compared to kids who watched the movie with no gun footage.

Some pulled the trigger over 20 times; one child pointed the gun out the window at people walking down the street; and another child pressed the gun to another child’s temple and pulled the trigger (Dillon, & Bushman, 2017). To some degree, not all video games are made up of violence, but the violence somewhat tends to attract the youth and have negative impacts upon the psyche. Video games have been described as powerful and persuasive tools (Gentile & Gentile, 2008). One side of the argument discusses that videogame playing has been found to help improve perceptual skills and visual attention (Green & Bavelier, 2003) but on the other hand there is evidence in video game research that shows that video game play can lead to changes in terms of psychological, physiological and cognitive developments (McLean and Griffiths 119).

Through the extensive research conducted it is clear that there are several negative impacts that come from children playing violent games. Although most results from trials are constant, there are still many arguments against these conducted trials on children. For example, Ferguson (2007) has argued that a publication bias exists within the research that is published in the area of violent videogame effects. He has argued that many of the studies that have reported significant effects of videogame violence have used unreliable methodologies and that the convenience samples used in the majority of studies do not allow for a full consideration of the effects of violent games on real-life aggression.

With that being said, one cannot argue the clear results of aggression and violence, as a response to viewing violence, that have been reported. For reference, in all trials mentioned, children were only viewing clips for 20 minutes or less and portrayed acts of violence afterwards. I used to come home and see my step brothers playing video games and then hours later I would see them still standing there playing the same violent game.

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How Violent Video Games Affect Children. (2021, Oct 06). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/how-violent-video-games-affect-children/

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