This research paper overviews the impact of violent video games on the psychology of children and adolescents. The paper actually entails the discussion of whether video games as well as the violent add-ons of these games have any impact on children’s behavior.
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In other words, it aims to discuss whether children’s behavior becomes aggressive regarding different situations in life upon excessive gaming. For this objective, the research work which is already available from existing sources can be reviewed from and presented in a discussion regarding the subject.
Video Games do Cause Aggression in Children’s Behavior
The majority of the intellectual circle, which keeps a close watch on media and the violent content that is showed on media, is of the opinion that the media content shown through any type of medium is harmful for the psychological and physiological health of children.
These scholars state that video games with violent content are potential threats for the health of children and adolescents as they contribute to aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, fear of being harmed and nightmares. They stimulate aggressive behaviour among children by influencing their thought processes and decision-making ability, which leads them to behave in an aggressive manner in certain situations.
Moreover, violent video games reduce the pro-social behavior among children, as they tend to stay in isolation and complete solitude. This aggressive behavior is often demonstrated through physical activity, which is directed at causing harm to others (American Academy of Pediatrics).
Other scholars and intellectuals, who focus on understanding the changes in the children’s thought process while playing violent video games, have observed that children show consistent aggressive behavior in certain situations. Therefore, when children are given regular exposure to the violent content of video games not only they tend to physically harm others with their aggression but also negatively affect their own wellbeing in frustration and agony.
The trends that were noticed in most of these research studies concluded that the level of exposure to violent content of media determines the level of aggression showed by the children. This implied that children who had less exposure to the violent video games showed slight aggression in their behavior as compared to those children who were constantly exposed to violent video games (Gentile and Buckley).
Another study described the impact of video games on the children’s thinking ability by stating that the experience of interacting with the video games and their content is entirely different from listening to calm and good music. These video games have negative impact on the children’s though process and create certain confusion between the real world and contents of the video games.
Therefore, this confusion leads to frustration when the children are not able to find out answers to their questions, and in return it results in aggressiveness in their behaviour, which is considered as a major reason for them to act in a supercilious manner (Gentile, Lynch and Linder).
Individuals who oppose the idea that video games cause aggression in the children’s behavior are of the view that millions of children and adolescents play video games round the globe but not all of them show aggression in their behavior. Therefore, it is wrong to generalise that video games cause aggression in the children’s behavior.
Several researches which can support this argument have actually revealed that the majority of children, when exposed to violent video games, do not show any sense of being anxious, panic or anarchic (Olson and Kutner).
Another research to support the belief that video games do not cause aggression in the children’s behavior presented findings which suggest that the majority of individuals who committed crimes in the US and UK belonged to the age bracket of 30 to 35 years, and only 10% of the crimes were committed by children aging between 10 to 15 years.
This report further suggests that the majority of criminals were addicted to playing violent video games, but children who committed crimes were not regular gamers. This, therefore, implies that their criminal behaviour was not motivated by the influence of games that they had played before committing the crime. Keeping in consideration these results, it is obvious that blaming video games only for causing aggression in children’s behavior is unfair (Olson and Kutner).
A report published in 2001 by Shalala stated that the major reasons for children committing crimes are their unstable mental condition and low quality of life they have at their homes either because of the poor economic conditions of their families or weak relationships between their parents, which affected their behavior in one way or another.
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This study is of the view that a small percentage of children commit crimes under the influence of violence and aggression showed in video games, and in fact it is the outcome of moral panic and mental disorders that are leading to higher number of crimes committed by children.
The report concluded by stating that blaming video games and media exposure for causing aggression among children is distorting the efforts to help children overcome their aggression. By wrongly focusing on the role of games on children’s behavior both the government and childcare organizations are only wasting their resources, which will surely not yield any significant results (Shalala).
To further elaborate the opposition to the fact that video games are responsible for causing aggression among children, Christopher wrote in his PhD thesis that the most significant reason for stimulating aggressive behavior among children is depression and association of children with friends who are aggressive and violent.
Most of the researchers also highlight that the language and vocabulary which parents use with their children and the antisocial characteristics of a child’s personality do tend to have more serious consequences for the child’s mental health as compared to the violent media content.
The review of the literature regarding the topic under discussion leads the author to conclude that there is a need of extensive research on studying the changes in behavioral trends among children when they are exposed to violent content of the video games.
Moreover, research is needed to understand the dynamics of the children’s psychology more closely in order to determine whether the violent video games cause aggression among children. In author’s own point of view, it is quite obvious that violent media content is not the only reason for causing aggression among children, but there are several other factors such as family structure, values, norms, and life experiences that could also have negative impact on children’s mental health and behavior.
American Academy of Pediatrics. “Media Violence.” Pediatrics (2009): 2-35.
Gentile, Douglas and Katherine Buckley. Violent video games effects on children and adolescents: theory, research and public policy. Research report. MA: Center for the study of violence, 2006.
Gentile, Douglas, et al. “The effects of violent video game habits on adolescent hostility,aggressive behaviors, and school performance.” Journal of Adolescence 27 (2004): 5-22.
Olson, Cheryl K and Lawrence Kutner. Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth about Violent Video Games. NY: Harvard Medical School Center for Mental Health and Media, 2008.
Shalala, Donna E. Youth Violence: A Report of the Surgeo General. Research Report. NY: National Institute of Mental Health, 2001.