Violent Video Games and Aggressive Behavior in Children

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Violent Video Games

Violent Video Games and Aggressive Behavior in Children

In recent years, technological advances have introduced many new forms of entertainment, one of the most popular being video games. Since their introduction, professionals and parents have become concerned with the addictive power that video games can have on people, particularly children and adolescents. Today, concern has shifted from the addictive effects of video game playing to the possible effects that they have on players’ aggression levels. As defining aggression as any thoughts or behaviors related with the intention to cause harm. Many scholars have been researching videogame’s effects on children. The most popular aspect of videogame research is whether or not games increase aggression. Seven hours is the amount of hours a day the average American child plays a video games (Anderson 354), and with technology advancing and games becoming more graphic, the concern over a violent game’s effect over a child’s development is growing. What does playing video games for seven hours do to a child’s development? Violent, role-playing video games adversely affects a child’s development and causes aggression in children and adolescents; these games desensitize players, reward hurt and destruction, and glorify dangerous weapons.

For some clarification, violent video games are defined as any game where the objective is to cruelly hurt or kill another character. Role-playing games are defined as any game where the player is responsible for the characters actions; they instigate all moves made by their character. Also, aggression is defined not to mean that a child will go to school and shoot everyone or even engage in fist fights as result of playing too many video games. Aggression here means non-physical acts as well as physical ones. The first harmful effect of violent, role-playing games is their effect on a youth’s reaction to violence and gore. When a child spends so much time exposed to the kind of brutality depicted in violent video games, the actions executed lose meaning. When interviewed, Mrs. Oake, a registered nurse and mother of two, stated “Eventually, the gravity of the violent acts and their consequences are lost on these children. It may become difficult for them to grasp the fact that this behavior causes serious consequences in real life.” In turn, this means that the children are more likely to be aggressive, because the magnitude of their actions means nothing to them. Dr. Levine agrees that “Desensitization, then, can help children engage in activities that were previously anxiety-provoking.” (33) Meaning that one child, who frequently plays these games, would have a much harder time being troubled by performing aggressive or violent acts because they witness and even virtually participate in them so often they have little significance, they become desensitized. In addition to desensitizing children, violent video games reward hurt and destruction. For example, the objective of the very popular Doom is to shoot as many of the game’s “demons” as possible. In the game, or any given game, the more hurt, the more points a player receives and the higher up in the levels they move. Children are particularly susceptible to this kind of reinforcement because of their age. In the same way a parent teaches their child with punishment when they have done something bad and rewards when they have done something bad. A video game operates on the same basic principal. This is the use of positive reinforcement, on a negative action. The “fighting solves everything” policy is continually emphasized at an age when children are still modeling after what they see around them. The games subconsciously enforce the belief that violence is good. Video games promote dangerous weapons and make them seem exciting, as opposed to hazardous and life-threatening. The same way the media made smoking seem “cool,” violent video games make...
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