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Does Violence in Video Games Affect Youth? Research Paper


In the recent days, the use of technology has made the youths to have more exposure to various media information and sources. They watch various programs on the televisions, over the internet and through the mobile phones. Further, they have exposure to the video shows and video games. Some of these programs, movies and video games are violent while others are not.

However, the rate of violence in different sources of media differs with the intent, market and the producers as well as the association of media. These media source, according to researches and studies indicates that they have effects to the young people. The researches however indicates that the rate of effects in the youths involved in violent media sources is generally high than those who participate in nonviolent media sources.

Our concern in this paper is to concentrate on the violent video games, the effects to the youths through participation in the violent video games, the counter arguments and finally the remarks or conclusion.


Violence in video games has become a concern to major social issues. Analyses have indicated that over 85% of the video games in the market contain violence acts (Anderson & Carnagey, 2009). In addition, more than half of the video games include serious actions towards other game characters (Anderson & Carnagey, 2009). The amount of time spent in playing video games by the youths since 1999 has almost doubled (Kirsh, 2010).

Further, analysis from the Americans indicates that almost 60 percent of American youth aged 8-18 play video games in any given day with more than 30 percent of them spending an average of more than an hour (Doll, Haas, & Bonzo, 2008). According to researches, the use of video games is generally high among the youths irrespective of their race, sex, household income or parental education.

The researches further indicate that majority of this young people prefer playing violent video games than nonviolent ones. In a survey of paired children and parents, almost two thirds of children named violent related games as their favorite games. However, it is only 30% of all the parents who were able to identify their children favorite games. The other 70% having no knowledge of the games their children play.

Besides the parents not being informed of the games’ their children play, the survey indicated that rarely do they supervise or restrict their children from video game plays.

In addition, there are very few parents who check the ratings of the video games that their children buy. Less than 25% of parents set rules to their children on the video games to be played and limits of the time used and exposure to the games (Anderson & Huesmann, 2003).

The exposure of the youths to video games has been a social concern in the past decades and still to date. By 1975, several studies had been published on the effects of violent video games on the aggressive behavior. The studies revealed that exposure to violent video games both in real life settings and in laboratory causes increase in aggressive behavior (Anderson & Bushman, 2001).

Researches indicate that the exposure of youths to violent video games tend to make them more aggressive at their adults age.

“The latest meta-analyses examining the effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior and other aggression- related outcome variables have shown that violent video game exposure increases physiological arousal, increases aggressive effect, increases aggressive cognitions, increases aggressive behaviors, and decreases pro-social behavior ” (Anderson & Bushman , 2001).

Effects of violent video games to youths

Increase in aggressive behavior

A positive relationship between aggressive behavior and playing violent video games has been revealed through several correlation studies. Anderson & Bushman (2002) correlation study in National youth showed a positive relationship between violent video game exposure and self-reported aggression that included assessing assault and robbery.

Youths who have exposure to playing violent video games are reported to have aggressive behaviors in the family, school and society (Dowd, Singer & Fretwell, 2006). They tend to practice the acts of persuasiveness and arguments they learnt from the video games.

However, due to little know how they practice them even in the wrong places. They develop an aggressive behavior to their teachers, parents, friends and their colleagues (Dowd, Singer & Fretwell, 2006).

Similarly, experimental studies have revealed that youths with exposure to violent video games are more aggressive compared to those exposed to non-violent games (Anderson & Bushman, 2002). The studies further revealed that, most of the young people who have exposure to violent video games get involved in physical fights than participants of non-violent games.

The average effect size across (correlation and experimental) studies between violent game exposure and aggressive behaviors was r=0.27 (Anderson & Bushman, 2002). This effect has been found in experimental and non-experimental studies, males and females, and children and adults.

According to the US Congress 2005, the effect of violent video games to aggressive behavior does not depend on the time the participants take to play.

Participants who played a violent video game for a short period of as few as 10 minutes associated themselves to aggressive behaviors and actions on self-rating scale. The researchers contended that violent video games exposure event for a short-term period also affects the participants unconsciously.

A study designed by Anderson & Bushman (2002), examined the intensity of aggressive behavior and the duration after game play. Their study involved participants of both violent and nonviolent video games. Immediately after violent or nonviolent game play, “the participants participated on mock retaliation time task which used blasts of noise as punishment to the opponent.

Players were informed that they had complete liberty to select both the intensity and duration of the punishment on their opponents” (US Congress, 2005).

The findings of the researchers were that those who participated in violent games displayed more aggression to their opponents than those who played nonviolent games. Similarly, those who played violent games registered a greater number of high intensity sound blasts than those who played nonviolent games.

Increase aggressive cognition

Correlational and experimental evidence indicate that violent video games exposure increases aggressive cognitions. In a correlational study, higher hostile attribution biases was attributed to the youths who are reported playing games that are more violent (Bushman & Anderson, 2002). “People with hostile attribution have been shown to act aggressively and are often socially maladjusted” (Anderson & Carnagey, 2009).

The effects of hostile attribution biases have been found in laboratory. They also assert that people who participated in violent video games generated aggressive endings to story stems than those who participated in playing non-violent video games.

In addition to hostile attribution biases, Anderson & Bushman (1997) indicates that relative speed at which the people with exposure to violent video games could read aggression related words is high than for those with exposure to non-violent video games. In addition, other studies have revealed that playing of violent video games increases aggressive thoughts.

Those people who participate in violent games have aggressive thoughts than those playing non-violent games. Anderson & Huesman (2003) asserts that recent meta-analyses between violent video game exposure and aggressive cognitions indicates that the average size is r=0.27. These effects also have been found in children and adults as well as female and male.

Increase aggressive affect

According to empirical studies, playing of violent video games cause an increase in aggressive affect. Hostility and anxiety levels in youths and adults were increased by playing violent games compared to other conditions. The anxiety to do certain things especially among the young people is due to forces to practice something they saw.

Young people usually demonstrate the acts of shooting, jumps, kicks, and other things they saw happening during the play. This curiosity to demonstrate further develops to real practice due to anxieties. Studies also indicated that children who participate in playing violent games have a higher level of frustrations than those who participate in non-violent games (Kirsh, 2010).

However, the meta-analyses level between playing video game and aggressive affect is 0.19, which is lower than the previous two levels. This indicates that, though playing of video game cause aggressive effect, the level at which they affect is lower than in aggressive cognition and behavior.

The researches examining this effect are much emphasized, as they are considered less interesting. This is because nonviolent video games are also believed to cause this effect due to frustrations caused by difficulties in playing the games.

Decrease in prosocial behavior

Prosocial behavior is the act of offering or providing help during difficult times such as conflicts and violence. Playing of violent video games lead to violence tolerance in majority of the youths that makes them receptive to violence. They tolerate violence causes more easily than those who participate in nonviolent games. To them they view all causes of violence just like the usual video games.

They encourage insults and cases that would lead to violence. They enjoy being in incidents that are violent and according to Anderson & Carnagey (2009), they cannot offer help to victims of violence as compared to participants of nonviolent games.

The recent meta-analysis research according to Anderson & Bushman (2002), indicates the level across the studies between violent video games exposure effect on helping behavior (decrease in prosocial behavior) to be r= 0.27.

Increase physiological arousal: exposure and playing of violent video games increases heart rate, diastolic blood pressure, and systolic compared to nonviolent games. During the plays, children face some incidents that are worrying, frustrating and imaginable leading to fear and tensions.

Poor performance academically

Young people who engage in playing in violent video games are prone to poor performance in academics (US Congress, 2005). The report indicates that these people use most of their time in arguments with the authority such as teachers.

The hostility of those who participate in violent video games makes them to spend their time in school trying to solve cases of indiscipline or involving themselves in conflict with other students. In addition, they find themselves most of the time doing punishments or others suspended due to their behaviors. This lack of consistence in class work and study time affects them academically.

Identification with the aggressors

This refers to the situation in which the youth desire to be recognized or to pattern themselves with any aggressors they encountered with during their play (Dowd, Singer & Fretwell, 2006). They tend to emulate them, use their names as their nicknames and appeal to their colleagues to use those names to refer to them.

For instance, as those used to watching football refer and associate themselves with the great footballers of their time like Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, it is the same with those who play the violent games. Similarly, just the way those who associate themselves with footballer try to emulate their moves, those who participate in violent video games do the same. They spend most of their time emulating if not playing the video games.

The US Congress (2005) asserts, “Empirical research suggested that violent video game players tend to imitate the movies that they have just “acted –out” in the game.” The research further states in (Anderson, 1997) that, participating in aggressive violent video games made the participants to display similar moves in free play to those in the violent games they had played.

In addition, children who participated in the violent karate games displayed the same tactics they used during the act of the play in fair play with other children (US Congress, 2005). This has caused danger to the lives of youngones as it sometimes result to injuries.

Increase in the cases of crimes

The imitation and emulation of the characters of the actors in the game make young people to generate certain immoral behaviors. They acquire this skills and professions through practice with other children.

For instance, playing of violent video games that involves shooting give young people a learning ground of how to use the gun, learn concepts of evading bullets while at the same time learning the character traits (Dowd, Singer & Frewtell, 2006). If this young people acquire these characters from the play, they further develop them using the toy guns and finally in future they may end up as criminals.

In addition, those used to violent video games where the characters in the play apply crude weapons such as machetes and knifes, they may learn to use them in real life.

Young people also may learn traits of highjacking, evading traps which they usually practice in real life and finally affect their traits. There are those young people who take the character in certain video games as their mentors and they therefore work towards being like them.

Counter Arguments to these effects

Although the above effects are associated to playing violent games, through researches conducted there remain some doubts of the realities and proves of this.

Ej (2008) through a research he conducted found the results associated to this effects negligible or even they served to prevent the youth from participating in violent video games. The kind of results or effects that a child learns from playing violent video games depends with the society, the family, individual and uncivillisation.

“Benefits of looking human beings as chemical formulas include not being stuck into the need to establish a causal basis before a negative influence is taken seriously” (Ej, 2008). He further stated that human beings should be viewed as formulas as they will open people up to a common approach to understanding human behavior.

Individualism and uncivilisation

Ej (2008) found that, the effects associated with playing violent video games are more individually and uncivilized related. The kind of perception that children take towards a given incident in action of their play depend a lot on the individual playing the game and the level of civilization.

There are those individuals who will not have any effect if they play one thousand of violent video games while others 2 minutes of the play is enough to affect them. In addition, there are those who are even affected by the playing of nonviolent video games. This is an indication that effects of the game played depends on the individual.

On urbanisation, Laurence asserts that those children who are more civilized play violent video games without being affected. They are usually having more exposure to violent incidents from other sources that make them more used to the violence (Gentile, 2005). To them they view the violent games plays as other kind of programs they watch over the TVs.

Aggression is more inborn than acquiring and playing of violent video games may not make someone who is not aggressive by nature aggressive. He argues that if a person is aggressive, he will remain to be aggressive whether he plays the violent games or plays other form of games (Gentile, 2005).

Individuals Vs. society

Laurence states that the effects of young people as individuals and what they experience in the society matters a lot. Despite the young people playing violent video games, the state and the environment surrounding them is of great concern. Ej (2008) stated that, those young people who have been brought up in violent, hostile society develop the same hostility, and if the society is peaceful the young people become peaceful.

The kind of the game whether violent or nonviolent does really affect the aggressiveness, hostility of the young people nevertheless, what affects them is the society set up they are from (Gentile, 2003).

However, the kind of trend that the young people take from playing violent video games may have a negative impact to the community. It is therefore the responsibility of the community to ensure that the young people are brought up in the right manner.

Similarly, their family set ups also dictates the effects of the young people that they may have from participating in violent video games (Gentile, 2003). The way they live in their family imposes the effects they acquire.

A child who in his/her lifetime has faced aggressiveness and hostility from his/her family develops aggressive and hostile behavior. Those whose families are peaceful may not have any impact. In addition, when young people learn certain aspects from the games they practice them in the society and in their families (Dowd, Singer & Fretwell, 2006).

It is upon the society and the families to teach them against anything that is to affect their morals. However, the society and families fail in this, which makes the blame to be on the society and the families other than the violent video games.

During an effort to clarify behavioral, cognitive and effective experience, Anderson & Ford (1986) found a somewhat divergent in relationship between subsequent behavior and short-term exposure to violent games.

The researchers found that there were no relationship between exposure to violent video games and aggressive behavior. They found aggression as an inherent behavior to those youths who portrayed elements of being aggressive.

In addition, during the evaluation and examinations of various studies to the effects of playing violent video games, the researchers dwelt much on the effects that were more interesting while paying very little attention to the effects that were not interesting.

Further, those effects that they found to be on both playing violent video games and nonviolent video games, they gave them less attention. For instance, the effect of physiological arousal, which might be caused by both playing violent video games as well as nonviolent, was given very little attention (Anderson & Carnagey, 2009).

The other effects that were given little attention are the aggressive effect and prosocial effects, an indication that the researchers were dealing with those studies that they had confidence would give them the results they intend to get (Anderson & Carnagey, 2009). This drawback to their studies makes the readers tend to have less trust in their findings.


Researches on the effects of violent video games on the youths especially on aggressiveness form an important catalyst for change. However, the disparity in the present research and the literatures that lack clear and scientific evidence and the psychological and community theories on the effects of violent video games forms a foundation for more researches (US Congress, 2005).

The engagement of young people in violent video games, though it may cause certain effects to the youths, the big role is in the hands of the families and society. The involvement of the youths to the violent video games is a matter of poor parental care. Many parents as seen in the paper do not have the knowledge of what their children play an illustration of the negligence of parents.

If parents develop rules and regulations to their youths on the kind of games they will be playing, monitoring, and inspecting any movie purchased by their children, and ensure no participation in violent video games, then effects of video games to the youth will be a forgotten debate. Thus even though we may associate these effects to the playing of violent video games, much of the effects owes back in the families.


Anderson, C. (1997). Effects of violent movies and trait hostility on hostile feelings and aggressive thoughts, Aggressive behavior. London: Sage Publications.

Anderson, C., & Bushman, B. (1997). External validity of “trivial” experiments: The case of laboratory aggression. Review of General Psychology, 1.

Anderson, C., & Bushman, B. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: A meta-analytic review of the scientific literature, Psychological Science, 12.

Anderson, C., & Bushman, B. (2002). The effects of media violence on society. London: Sage Publications.

Anderson, C., & Huesmann, L. (2003). Human aggression: A social-cognitive view, In M.A. Hogg & J. Cooper (Eds.) Handbook of social psychology. London: Sage Publications.

Anderson, C., & Carnagey, N. (2009). Causal effects of violent sports video games on aggression: Is it competitiveness or violent content? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45.

Doll, L., Haas, E., & Bonzo, S. (2008). Handbook of injury and violence prevention. New York: Springer Science+Business Media.

Dowd, N., Singer, D. & Fretwell, W. (2006) Handbook of children, culture, and violence. California: Sage Publication.

Ej, L. (2008). Human mastery: The universal purpose of life and reaching the potential of human kind. iUniverse, USA.

Gentile, D. (2003). Media violence and children: a complete guide for parents and professionals. Westport: Praeger Publishers.

Kirsh, S. (2010). Media and youth: a developmental perspective. United Kingdom: Wiley Blackwell Publishers.

Us Congress. (October 26, 2005) Congressional record, V. 151, pt. 17. Washington: Government Printing Press.

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