The stigma that surrounds violent video games is still very apparent today. In spite of this stigma, many parents continue to allow their adolescents to play, disregarding the warning signs. My husband’s hobby of choice is video games, violent ones in particular. He has expressed his excitement for bonding with our daughter one day by playing video games together, so, I know at some point my daughter will come running to me asking, “Mommy, can I please play that cool video game with daddy”. The debate in my household is whether or not our daughter will be playing violent video games. My research has decided it is not a good idea to allow my young daughter to play violent video games because of the many risks associated with them.
My first concern with violent video games are the chances of heightened aggression, especially with myself coming from a family with a long line of aggressive disorders. I have worked very hard to get to where I am today after suffering from PTSD as an adolescent, and I do not want my daughter to be around any kind of violence, fictional or real. Jack Hollingdale and Tobias Greitemeyer, researchers for the School of Psychology, in the United Kingdom, tested 101 participant’s aggression levels when playing violent video games online. The findings concluded, “that both playing violent video games online and offline compared to playing neutral video games increases aggression” (Hollingdale).
Another study conducted by Craig Anderson and Christine Murphy, researchers for the Department of Psychology at Iowa State University, focused solely on ninety-one female undergraduates. I was particularly intrigued by this study because it is based on only female participants. During the study, “33 played a violent video game with a female protagonist; 30 played a violent video game with a male protagonist; 27 played a nonviolent video game” (Anderson). The final analysis concluded that, both groups that played the violent game were positively identified to have an increase in aggression (Anderson).
The participants who used a female character though had higher levels of aggression than the ones who used a male character; this was associated with a revenge aggression attribute (Anderson). In society today, I witness many adolescents being extremely defiant to their parents in very aggressive ways, and I wonder if violent video games may play a part in their actions. I cannot risk my daughter acting out in ways that imitate violent episodes in the game, especially when may be at risk for aggressive disorders, as they are hereditary.
Amongst aggression, another disorder associated with violent video games is depression. My husband has suffered from depression in the past and has expressed that it was his main reason for playing his video games so heavily. My husband’s grandfather and my grandfather as well also suffered from severe depression. Depression comes in all shapes and sizes, and many people of all ages are very good at hiding it. Many studies have also concluded that depression is found to be hereditary. Susan R. et al. physicians in various adolescent behavior health fields tested the theory on 5,147 5th graders playing violent video games every day for one year. Some students played more than two hours a day while others played less (Tortolero).
The study summarized that indeed, “playing violent video games for a substantial amount of time each day over an extended period is significantly associated with depression in preadolescent youth” (Tortolero). Depression led my grandfather to need to live in an assisted living home because he could not care for himself anymore. If I am able to help my daughter from having any more of a chance than she naturally has from suffering due to depression I will take it. My daughter currently is an extremely happy toddler and full of life, and my intentions are to keep that intact as much as humanly possible to guarantee the best future for her.
In addition to the mental concerns, I am also worried the effect video games characters pose on my daughters self-esteem. To be honest, I tell my daughter she is pretty at least ten times a day, along with telling her how much I love her even more often than that. My daughter is the center of my world, and I tear up just writing about it, because she has saved my life in so many ways and made my life have so much meaning. I wish that I could impact hers as much as she impacts mine, but I know at some point she is going to be more worried about what her classmates think of her rather than what her mother tells her she is.
When I was younger I suffered from body dysmorphia which made me become anorexic. There was a point in my life I would limit myself to a slice of bread a day until I was skin and bones and yet, I still saw myself as overweight. Female video game characters physics are practically impossible to achieve. Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz and Dana Mastro, researchers for the Department of Communications at the University of Missouri, performed a study to detect whether or not video games female characters affect a female’s self-concept. Their analysis concluded that, “Female self-efficacy was negatively affected by game play with the sexualized female character” (Behm-Morawitz).
Another study to support my theory is by Christopher Barlett and Richard Harris, researchers for the Department of Psychology in Iowa. Their study tested whether men or women had a negative effect on their self-esteem due to how a video game character looked (Barlett). In the female’s study, a thin female character was used and the findings showed that, “There will be a decrease in body esteem and body satisfaction after body emphasizing video game play” (Barlett). So, for this reason I am worried she may view herself as being less-than because of what video games exemplify visually and could potentially pose a threat to her developing body dysmorphia as well.
Another problem I have with violent video games is the negative effect on my daughter’s education they pose. Education is one of our top priorities in our household. Jancee Wright, researcher at the University of Cumberlands, did a study of 198 students to test if video games negatively affected their GPAs. She found that, “participants who indicated that they did play video games had significantly lower GPAs than participants who indicated that they did not play video games” (Wright). Playing some violent video games, especially team-related ones require a lot of time devoted to them.
Currently, our daughter is one and a half years old, and she is exceeding her milestones. She is already almost fully potty trained, communicates verbally and through sign-language, and plays well with others in her daycare as well as everywhere else. I see my daughter having a bright future and hope for her to continue surpassing others her age, and I worry that violent video games could negatively alter her progress. When my husband would play World of Warcraft, he had to be logged on and ready to fight at certain times every-day. Some fights would last for hours as his team attempted to defeat their enemy. If our daughter was to get caught up in a time constrained fight she had to sign onto when she returned home that lasted hours, it could conflict with her school-work; thus, her grades would drop.
Not only would playing violent video games take time away from her school-work but also could affect her prosocial environment. As a parent, I want my daughter to help others willingly without having to tell her to do so. Violent video games have proven to negatively affect children’s prosocial cognition. My daughter loves to help others, she can only do so much being only one year old. She will try to feed her friends, give her cousin his bottle, and will find and give him his binky when he starts to cry. I would never want to hinder her willingness and desire to help others positively.
Sarah Coyne, a researcher for the Department of Psychology, studied the prosocial effects of violent video games on 488 adolescents over a five year time period. Her study revealed that not only did violent video games lessen adolescents prosocial behavior and compassion, but participants also had increased levels of externalizing behaviors (Coyne). Externalizing behaviors could cause her to act out, bully others, steal, and ruin property. These behaviors would cause a strained relationship between us. It is my intentions when my daughter gets older to have her help out in the community doing volunteer work. If my daughter was to lose interest in helping others, she may view volunteer work as a chore rather than as a self-reward.
In order to succeed in school, a student needs sleep. It has been proven that violent video game exposure disrupts an adolescent’s sleep. It is common knowledge that the recommended amount of sleep any person needs a night is eight hours. My daughter, however, usually sleeps an average of twelve hours a night. I know that sounds crazy, right? If she does not get those full twelve hours of sleep though, she will be miserable. Now, I am sure that once she is older she probably will not sleep twelve hours a night but, if she is anything like me, she will want close to it still. Daniel King, researcher from the School of Psychology in Australia, did a sleep study to test the effects after playing violent video game on seventeen adolescents sleep patterns.
The results of the study showed, “that prolonged video-gaming may cause clinically significant disruption to adolescent sleep, even when sleep after video-gaming is initiated at normal bedtime” (King). My husband used to let his video game consume his life entirely. He would go to work, come home, and hop right on the computer to play his game until it was almost time for him to go to work again. I really do not understand how he survived on such a lack of sleep but, when you are addicted to the game, sleep really is not a priority anymore, as my husband said. If my daughters sleep was to be interrupted, regardless if she went to bed on time or not, it would negatively affect her schooling as well. My daughter would not want to get out of bed in the morning for school and mentally would not be awake for the first few periods. My daughters lack of sleep would not only affect her education but as well as her extra-curricular activities and family bonding time.
Lastly, violent video games cost money. My husband’s game of choice was World of Warcrafts while I was pregnant with our daughter. World of Warcrafts subscription cost a one-time fee of $49.99 in addition to the monthly cost to continue playing, which is $14.99. These costs together for one year equals $230. Fortnite, one of the most popular violent video games today, is a money making machine. Mike Brown, a financial education author from LendEDU in 2018 states, “Fortnite was making an average of $1 million dollars every single day from players spending”.
In Mike Brown’s study of 1,000 Fortnite players, “68.8% admitted they have spent money on [their character with] the average money spent being $84.67”. The cost may not seem like much, but over time it adds up. Once my daughter is old enough, it is my husband’s and mine intentions she will complete chores around the house for some money to spend on things she may want. Although technically it will be her money to spend on what she wants, there are still ground rules because it is coming from our pockets. That money given to our daughter could be spent on toys or other items she may want for her extra-curricular activities rather than maintaining a fictional character.
Overall, violent video games have too many negative effects associated with them to allow my daughter to engage in them. Many violent video games can affect an adolescent mentally and physically. In the society we live in today, self-perception is becoming a bigger issue than what it used to be for adolescents. Instead of working on ourselves spiritually and fundamentally, many adolescents are consuming their lives with virtual realities to negate any “real world” problems. This may seem like the answer for a short term release but, in fact, it is harming our adolescents.
Violent video games are causing our children to develop body dysmorphia, depression, and aggression just to name a few. With all three of these disorders running in my family, as well as my husband’s, I cannot put my daughter at risk to them just for a video game. Adolescents have also shown an increase in externalized behaviors from playing violent video games. These behaviors could heighten because of aggression as well. Along with mental disorders, adolescents’ education is being affected negatively by violent video games. My daughter has a desire to learn, and in order to be able to successful in life she must continue to act on that desire. In addition to negatively affecting her education, my daughters sleep would be harmed as well.
Sleep is needed for a person to be able to perform tasks and overall feel great throughout the day. Violent video games can also lessen an adolescents prosocial levels. My daughter being the genuine helper that see is now could potentially lose that interest due to being exposed to the violence in video games. Not only do violent video games pose a threat mentally and physically to my daughter, but they also cost money. So, would I really want to be paying to witness my daughter decline? No, definitely not. All in all, after much research, I have decided that violent video games could cause detrimental effects to my daughter if I was to allow her to play them. As a mother, I am not willing to risk my daughter having a higher risk to any of these factors just to play an unnecessary violent video game.
- Anderson, Craig A., and Christine R. Murphy. “Violent Video Games and Aggressive Behavior in Young Women.” Aggressive Behavior, vol. 29, no. 5, Oct. 2003, pp. 423–429. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1002/ab.10042.
- Barlett, Christopher, and Richard Harris. “The Impact of Body Emphasizing Video Games on Body Image Concerns in Men and Women.” Sex Roles, vol. 59, no. 7–8, Oct. 2008, pp. 586–601. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s11199-008-9457-8.
- Behm-Morawitz, Elizabeth, and Dana Mastro. “The Effects of the Sexualization of Female Video Game Characters on Gender Stereotyping and Female Self-Concept.” Sex Roles, vol. 61, no. 11–12, Dec. 2009, pp. 808–823. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s11199-009-9683-8.
- Brown, Mike. “The Finances of Fortnite: How Much Are People Spending on This Game?” LendEDU, LendEDU, lendedu.com/blog/finances-of-fortnite/.
- Coyne, Sarah M., et al. “Violent Video Games, Externalizing Behavior, and Prosocial Behavior: A Five-Year Longitudinal Study During Adolescence.” Developmental Psychology, vol. 54, no. 10, Oct. 2018, pp. 1868–1880. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1037/dev0000574.
- Hollingdale, Jack, and Tobias Greitemeyer. “The Effect of Online Violent Video Games on Levels of Aggression.” PLoS ONE, vol. 9, no. 11, Nov. 2014, pp. 1–5. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0111790.
- King, Daniel L., et al. “The Impact of Prolonged Violent Video-Gaming on Adolescent Sleep: An Experimental Study.” Journal of Sleep Research, vol. 22, no. 2, Apr. 2013, pp. 137–143. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1111/j.1365-2869.2012.01060.x.
- Tortolero, Susan R., et al. “Daily Violent Video Game Playing and Depression in Preadolescent Youth.” CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, vol. 17, no. 9, Sept. 2014, pp. 609–615. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1089/cyber.2014.0091.
- Wright, Jancee. ‘The effects of video game play on academic performance.’ Modern Psychological Studies: Vol. 17 : No. 1 , Article 6, 2011. https://scholar.utc.edu/mps/vol17/iss1/6