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Society had become increasingly concerned about the degradation of youth. Different studies over the years have suggested that a big part of youths and adults are increasingly assassinating and hurting others and are showing anti-social behaviors. The other part is becoming obese. At times, it almost seems to be an epidemic. Many believe that one of the major causes of these problems is video games. However, contrary to popular belief, video games have not been scientifically linked to causing violence, obesity, or anti-social behavior.
Anti-social behaviors have no connection with gaming at all. There should be a realization that though society has changed its perspectives, it has yet to deal with the social operations and dynamics that dampen the development of many sectors in the society. In effect, by not being able to take the opportunities that are supposed to alleviate them they are being further stressed by the censure of failure and personal responsibility for their lives (Giddings, 178-180). That is why there is a need for conscious and collective actions to change society. One of the most urgent concerns is the assurance of economic opportunities which should be considered an integral component of any social program to address the issue. The development of various alliances among groups within the community has shown better success in eliciting a response from the most distressed among specific segments: the youth and women. These efforts have achieved success because they have taken into consideration similar trends among other social that suffer marginalization. Anti-social behaviors are clear cases of alienation towards society and there is no connection whatsoever with gaming. If an Anti-social has a liking for gaming it certainly does not make gaming the cause of Anti-social behaviors. Furthermore, gaming never causes isolation. It is actually helpful for building social bondage. “Much video gameplay is social. Almost 60 percent of frequent gamers play with friends. Thirty-three percent play with siblings and 25 percent play with spouses or parents” (Jenkins, 1).
Recently there was an article posted on www.betterhealthusa.com, titled, Overweight and Obesity in children, which informed readers about the significant rate of growth of obese children in the general population. The rate of prevalence of obesity among American children had seen a significant rise and it was estimated that about 15 percent of children aged between 6 to 15 and about 10 percent of children between the ages of 2 to 5 were reported to be seriously overweight. This is an issue, which has worried health professionals in the United States for a long time because such a situation indicates that the subsequent generations would become weaker and more prone to diseases. The article informs that about two-thirds of the general population in America is overweight and 30 percent of the population is obese. What is more worrisome is the fact that the growth of such cases in children has been more profound and the number of cases has doubled in the last 30 odd years (Betterhealthusa, 1). Obesity is directly related to eating but curiously a good section of the thinking society is blaming gaming for this obesity. They are pointing out the fact that over-enthusiasm in gaming is making people crouch-potato and they are no more interested in working out. The government and its health organizations have recognized the incumbent and eventual risks and are therefore formulating strategies to curb its effects and causes. As an initiative, the organizations want to promote food with higher nutritional value in public schools and reduce the accessibility to food with lower nutritional value. Even though it is a significant step, certain sections of society believe that it may indeed be an unethical move. This is partly true because such a step would actually restrict the choices of a youngster. Nevertheless, it is a positive move rather than blame the entire case of obesity on gaming. This is too generalization and simplification of the entire problem. Rather it would be more appropriate if the organizations educate youngsters and their parents alike about the benefits of a healthy diet. It would be insufficient to restrict a youngster’s accessibility to such high-carb food in school because he would anyways have them readily at home or in eateries outside the schools. Therefore, it is mandatory that children be educated first. Special classes and seminars should be held in school and proper dietary habits should be promoted using any form of the media. Additionally guides on a healthy lifestyle should also be promoted. The guides should inform the general population about other factors related to lifestyle that can induce obesity. These factors may include the ill effects of excessive sedentary activities such as watching the television, sleeping patterns, and lack of sporting activities. Guidelines on a healthy lifestyle, which would include all the activities that the youngsters prefer, should be provided. The idea is to inculcate the value that moderation in all spheres of life, be it eating, sleeping or watching television, can add to one’s life. The motive should be to educate youngsters and adults alike and help them in achieving a balanced, healthy lifestyle rather than develop an awareness campaign about banning gaming (Kopelman, 35).
Violent actions performed in playing video games like Hitman, House of Dead, and many others, are more conducive to children’s aggression. Kirsh states that these games include, “Intense Violence – Graphic and realistic-looking depictions of physical conflict. May involve extreme and/or realistic blood, gore, weapons and depictions of human injury and death.” (Kirsh, 316) Thus, it is stated that the media, and particularly video games, not only is teaching kids to kill; we are teaching them to like it.
Indeed, video games nowadays are more violent and bloody than they used to be around ten years ago. However, another medium of popular culture like action movies, televised sports, men’s or women’s magazines, radio or TV talk shows has changed for the worse. It is important to evaluate and analyze the cause and the ultimate effects of this drive. However, to make the discussion simpler the focal point would be on Hollywood Action Movies. Hollywood Action Movies have always been manufactured keeping in mind the need and likes of the audience moves that have scored well at the box office. It is no surprise that with their ability to keep up with the popularity index of the mass. It can thus be stated that Hollywood Action Movies always provided the mass exactly what they intended to see and this became the reflection of the society in general or in other words, Hollywood Action Movies represented the popular culture or demand. Thus, video games are not alone. Furthermore, there is no hard data that suggests that gaming only causes violence and all root causes of violence in gaming. Thus, it should be the mass media and other elements of the society that should be blamed and not gaming as a scapegoat.
In conclusion, it would be very relevant to state that in our all-utilitarian materialistic market economy-driven needs of urban life all the electronic media play vital roles and video games are just a small part of it. In this whole world of ‘earn to burn’ philosophy it is all but evident that we should be living in a virtual make-believe world of utopia more like Aldus Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’. Down the ages of history, all the human clans ever came to existence created utopia following their own culture and taste. This is our culture and our taste is creating today’s utopia. However, it should be mentioned that had the media would have been fine if they had stayed in their ‘all feel a good place. But, they are asking the viewers to become a ‘go-getter’ and they are asking the viewers to become aggressive. It is, thus, no wonder the children are becoming influenced by this and getting aggressive all the time as they feel it is the best thing to be and violence is playing a big part in it. The media would not rectify itself on its own. If that was the case the media would have done that long ago. Thus, there is no basis that could blame the entire issues of violence, obesity and anti-social acts on video games.
Betterhealthusa. “Overweight and Obesity in children”. Immuno Laboratories. Inc. 2008. Better health USA. Web.
Giddings, Paula. When and Where I Enter: The impact of Black Women on Race and Sex in America. Wellington: National Book Trust, 2001.
Jenkins, Henry. “Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked”. The Video Games Revolution. 2008. PBS. Web.
Kirsh, Steven. Children, adolescents, and media violence: a critical look at the research. NY: SAGE, 2006.
Kopelman, Peter. Clinical obesity in adults and children: In Adults and Children. Edition: 2, London: Blackwell Publishing, 2005.