Violent Video Games
The impact of the violent video games on children, specifically its involvement in encouraging violence, has been on debate from quite some time. The two sides have been going on and on in a never ending battle trying to disprove the other. The proponents of this argument argue that the games foster violence since they reduce the child’s empathy, makes them accustomed to violence and rewards them for the violent acts in the games. The children also sometimes learn from the games and repeat it in real life. This encourages the violent tendencies in the children. The proponents argue that the games could not possibly foster violence as the children foster friendships and vent out their frustrations into this game, preventing violent outbursts. They also believe that few studies have been done to show the relation between the games and violence in children, making the claim unreliable. There can be no answer to this controversial issue. Just like a moral dilemma, the answer lies with the beliefs of the individual.
Violent Video Games
Violent video games have been a source of controversy in the public since the 1980s. Violent video games are interactive software that require the user to complete various tasks such as shooting or hacking people with an axe. They are packed with much violence, blood and gore. They create an illusion of reality making them more entertaining.
There have been many debates of whether these games promote violence among the children. Some people believe that the violent video games increase the aggression in children. This is due to the high exposure of violence that the children undergo. The children continually engage in virtual acts of violence that ultimately lead to increased aggression. In Anderson, Gentile and Buckley, 2008, the relation between violent video games and increased aggression in children is clearly illustrated. The book shows how much exposure to the violence increases the likelihood of the children being more aggressive in real life.
In Gunter’s book, the effects of video games in children are clearly illustrated. The games stimulate their imagination and some of the children copy what they see in real life. Studies have shown that those people who play these games have a better aim than those who do not play. The games militarize them and make them more likely to engage in criminal behavior. Many crimes such as the shooting spree in Florida and the shooting in Tennessee. These are all connected to the violent video games. The perpetrators confirmed to have been playing the video games prior to committing these acts.
Balter and McCall reiterate that argument. The book shows the psychological effects of the videogames on children. It shows how the constant exposure to the violence lowers their empathy and makes them more receptacle to violence. The video games are influential than other media such as the violent movies. This is because the player is actively involved in the game. In the movies, the child passively watches and the killers and criminals are always apprehended in the game. In the video games, however, the child is awarded more points for engaging in violence. This may make them believe that violence is acceptable.
The critics of the notion that the violent video games cause violence among the children believe that it is indeed quite the opposite. The children benefit from the violent video games. The psychologists believe that playing these games gives the children a chance to vent their stress out on the games so that they do not do it on another person. This reduces the aggression in children. Aggression is not an acquired trait, but is a result of built up negative emotions such as anger. The children who are aggressive are poor at expressing these expressions, leading to anger outbursts and aggressive behavior. Playing the games help them express themselves (Gentile, 2003).
The critics also argue that little work has been done to prove that the video games increase aggression in children. There remains to be little scientific evidence in the public to back these claims. The claims are mostly politically based and are made from hearsay and people’s beliefs. The critics argue that there should be more studies to prove that the games really have any influence on the aggression of children. The book by Kutner and Olson seeks to demystify these beliefs by placing the pros and cons of the violent video games on the children. It shows the studies done, the results and the actual effects that these games have on the children.
With neither side wanting to come to a conclusion about the effects of the game, the debate ranges on. Studies are done while others disqualify their results. Maybe, just like an ethical dilemma, there will never be a right answer. One will have to rely on their beliefs to pick a side.
Violent video games have been the bone of contention for many years now, with each side trying to disprove the other. The debate has majorly been on one subject, do the games promote violence among the children. The violent video games have been a craze in the country. Many children are hooked to the video game consuls and their laptops as they play games individually, with their friends or other players over the internet. Many children today leave school and go to their video games, laptops and other gadgets, instead of playing outside with their peers and gaining proper social skills. It is understandable why the parents would feel concerned about their children. Spending so much time on one thing at such an impressionable age may lead one to pick up habits from the games. The debate is, do the games encourage violence among the children?
The proponents state that violent video games promote violence in children. First of all, it reduces the level of empathy. Empathy is the ability of one to put themselves in the other’s shoes and understand what they are going through. Empathy fosters positive attitudes such as kindness, gentleness and pity. The children exposed to the violent video games engage in cruel and inhumane virtual act such as shooting and killing. This reduces their levels of empathy. They will be more likely to engage in aggressive and violent acts as they do not understand the pain the other party may be going through (Balter & McCall, 2000).
The video games also make the children indifferent to violence and aggression. Children are averse to violence and tend to avoid it at all costs. The continued exposure to these video games changes this. The children constantly engage in virtual violent acts, such that they get used to them. They no longer see them as a big deal and be more receptive to aggressive and violent behavior, which they will not see as an evil deed. This desensitization, especially at a young age where the children are forming their personality will make the child develop aggressive tendencies, increasing their potential to engage in violence (Anderson, Gentile & Buckley, 2007).
The games reward violent behavior. The player is given higher points and bonus prizes for the more acts of violence they commit. The players are encouraged to use violence to solve the various tasks in these games. This may make them believe that violence is acceptable and can be used to solve problems. It will make them rely on aggression to solve their real life issues such as quarrels and conflicts (Gunter, 1998). The video games are not the only violent media that the children are exposed to, however, it is the most influential. The children engage actively in this game, virtually shooting and killing people. The other media, however, involves passive engagement where the children watch and read about it. One learns better if actively involved in the concept. The child, especially a young child, is likely to adopt the aggressive behavior due to the frequent exposure to the games.
The critics of this stand believe that the violent video games are not to blame for the aggression in children. They state that there are far more influential factors to cause a child to be violent such as being raised in a home where the parents behave aggressively to each other. Violence and aggression stems from the accumulation of hurt feelings. The video games allow the player to shoot and kill virtual players. This allows the player to vent out their frustrations into the game. They purge those negative emotions into the game preventing them from expressing them via aggression to others. It serves as a therapeutic treatment and is just as effective as taking a walk and seeming into a pillow. Many psychologists support this notion and believe that it is the best therapy for children (Gentile, 2003).
The games also foster social contact among the children. In this technological age, the children are unable to communicate adequately or socialize without the presence of an electronic device. As the children play these games together, they develop friendships with each other and keep themselves entertained. There is a lower likelihood for the children to develop aggressive behavior in such a context.
The relation between the games and the behavioral change in children is very minimal. Most of the American youth, boys and girls alike play these video games. The number of violence cases that are related to playing these games are also very few. A survey of the inmates in jail showed that less than 10% of the inmates engaged in the violent and criminal behavior due to the influence of the video games. An even lower portion of these inmates had actively played video games before being put in jail. They site other factors such as being under the influence and economic challenges. Assuming that just because a small fraction of people engage in violence due to video games reflects the influence everyone is undergoing is ridiculous (Kutner & Olson, 2008).
The studies done to prove that there is a connection between the violent video games and violent behavior are few and unreliable. There has been a mass of research on the effects of violent television programs and behavior at home, but very little to prove that the violence in children is related to the games. The studies done by these proponents constantly contradict each other and leave no clear solution. The belief is based on politics and cultural beliefs and it on hardcore scientific research.
Both sides have strong argumentative premises. The proponent’s side believes that these games have a psychological influence on the children. The opponent’s side believe that the games are actually beneficial to the children. The violent video games have been there for quite a long time and have been subject to much scrutiny. The decision to side with either side lies on the individual opinion. Children are different and each can be influenced to a certain degree by different factors. The degree of influenced to your child should determine your stand.
Anderson, C., Gentile, D. & Buckley, K, (2007). Violent video game effects on children and adolescents: theory, research, and public policy.Oxford New York: Oxford University Press.
Balter, L. & McCall, R. (2000). Parenthood in America: an encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO.
Gentile, D. (2003). Media violence and children: a complete guide for parents and professionals. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Gunter, B. (1998). The effects of video games on children: the myth unmasked. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press.
Kutner, L. & Olson, C. (2008). Grand theft childhood: the surprising truth about violent video games and what parents can do. New York: Simon & Schuster.