Researchers have been conducting research since 1950s to find out if exposing children to media violence leads to subsequent violence as they grow up. Out of 3500 studies, only 18 studies have shown a negative correlation (Cook, 2000). Since children learn about different things in their environment by imitation and observation, it is not easy to keep them away from the influence of the media.
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When they watch violence on the media especially where dramatic heroes are involved, they accept that violence is a good way of resolving conflict. Some of the media outlets pass the message that the world is full of violence and justify why individuals should carry weapons to protect themselves and be more aggressive. Media violence insidiously causes the viewers to become insensitive to violence occurring in real life. Frequent playing of video games among children increases their chances of developing violent behavior (Cook, 2000).
Video games use graphic capabilities to show damaged body parts. They personalize the games by using digital images of recognizable personalities depicted as victims in the scenes. Research has shown that there is a high correlation between media violence and violence exhibited by young people.
Below the age of eight years, children are unable to make a distinction between fantasy and reality. To them, the violence they watch on screen is as real as what they witness in their homes and the larger communities. Adolescents are expected to develop abstract thought and social controls from their magical thinking as children. If this important developmental stage of children takes place in an environment that is violent, their minds become distorted .
Since the time video games came into existence, they have been replete with violence intended to inflict pain or cause death on other human beings. From the games that were developed some years ago to the ones that have just been developed, violence is treated as a central component in the games.
The process of determining if a certain video game contains violence is therefore an easy one. Some of the video games that were developed earlier and contained violence include Space Invaders and Wonder Boy. In space Invaders, the player shoots and kills many aliens in successive attacks while in Wonder Boy, violence is depicted when the hero kills monsters that disappear after their death. The hero is subjected to violence when the enemies shoot and throw stones at him.
When he dies, he falls while the enemies or the attackers disappear in a smoke explosion. This is one of the oldest video games that depict a lot of violence. When young people involve themselves in playing such video games, they eventually develop violence as they grow up. They are unable to differentiate between reality and fantasy and to them what happens in the video games should happen in real life (Cook, 2000).
Apart from the early video games that depicted violence, there are also modern video games that are full of violence. The video game Goldeneye 007 is one of the current video games depicting violence. In the game, the bad characters who are killed do not disappear but rather conduct some maneuvers after their death. It is a shooting video game and involves performing different maneuvers depending on where the character has been shot.
Characters shot on their feet move around clutching to their feet while those who are shot around the neck region go down on their knees holding the neck. In these games, there is splashing of blood when a character is shot. When explosives are used in the games, the characters burst into small pieces which are easily recognized. This makes the video games so real to young people who play them.
Kentucky, Paducah, Colorado and Jonesboro are some of the towns which experienced a spate of school shootings. It was discovered that the shooters were students who had developed the habit of playing video games. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were two students from Columbine High School who killed 13 people and wounded 23 others before they killed themselves. It was discovered that the two found great enjoyment in playing a bloody video game. Harris developed a customized form of the video with more weapons, two shooters and victims who had no ways of fighting back, features that were characteristic of real shootings .
The other way through which video games encourage violent behavior is the fact that the games contain passive gaming. To play and become the winner requires the player to take the role of the aggressor. As opposed to watching the violence on TV, in these video games the player is the one who commits the acts of violence.
This active involvement in the games has been described as a major way through which the thoughts of the players are altered hence increasing their chances of developing violent behavior. Secondly, instead of punishing violence in the video games, rewards are given to the winners. Some games like sniper and army games increase the level of the players according to the number of people he kills. Frequent watching of these games by young people distorts their thinking by convincing them that engaging in violence is a rewarding affair.
To understand the complex relationship between video games and violence, the General Aggression Model (GAM) was developed. It employs physiological responses, thoughts and feelings to determine how individuals respond to video games depicting aggression. It was identified that violent video games have an impact on the response exhibited by gamers. For instance, individuals who are not naturally violent respond with increased hostility and aggression after they watch violent video games.
The games turn into situational variables responsible for changing the perception of players towards acts of aggression. Apart from the short term effects associated with video games, the games may also contribute towards the development of long-term effects. For instance, watching violent video games may cause the development of aggressive attitudes and beliefs. In addition, players of violent video games may be eventually desensitized to aggressive behaviors .
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To find out the relationship between video games and violent behavior, a survey was conducted during this study. In the survey, a group of 10 young men were allowed to play violent video games. They were compared with another group that did not play the video games. The results indicated that the group of young men that played violent video games exhibited high physical and verbal aggression towards their peers and even inanimate things when allowed to interact freely.
On the other hand, the group that did not play the video games did not exhibit such aggression. In addition, when the two groups were asked questions based on hypothetical stories, the answers were different. The answers given by the group that played the video games were in favor of violence while answers from the group that did not play the video games did not favor violence.
Such results are an indication that violent video games encourage young people to become violent. The results of this survey can be interpreted to mean that playing video games actually leads to violent behavior.
Cook, D. (2000). Testimony of the American Academy of Pediatrics on Media Violence. Web.
Kalning, K. (2011). Does Video Violence Make Teens Violent. Web.
Kirby, G., & Goodpaster, J. (2006). Thinking:an interdisciplinary approach to critical and creative thought. New York: Prentice Hall.
Pamf. (2011). The Impact of Video Games on Children. Web.