Violent Video Games Influence Violent Behavior in Children

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Solomon G. Thiam
Professor Olsen
Eng. 101
23 Nov. 2010

Violent Video Games Influence Violent Behavior in Children

Many people still do not believe that violent video games could influence violent behavior in children. They think that video games are just for entertainment and nothing more than that. Even though there are several cases where video games have been blamed or held responsible for violent actions, some people fail to consider the fact that violent video games do influence violent actions. One perfect example where violent video (Doom) was listed as one of the factors that influenced a violent behavior can be seen in the “Columbine Massacre”, where two young high school students shot and killed twelve students, one teacher, and injured twenty-three others before taking their own lives. “No one can say for sure why Klebold and Harris committed such horrific crime. Many people have come up with theories including being picked on in school , violent video game (Doom), violent movies (Natural Born Killers), music, racism, Goth, problematic parents depression and more” (Rosenberg). No matter what the case may be, violent video game was listed as one of the factors that may have caused the violent behavior.

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Children learn in many different ways, it could be through the process called Classical Conditioning: a type of learning in which a stimulus acquires the capacity to evoke a response that was originally evoked by another stimulus. They could learn through Operant Condition: a form of learning in which voluntary responses come to be controlled by their consequences. Also, learning may occur through Observational Learning: a learning process where an individual responding is influenced by the observation of others who are called models (Weiten). Video games are made of different characters, some of whom are considered protagonists and others antagonists. Children may find these characters exciting and this could lead to a form of identity that the child adapts. They sometimes use nicknames that are used by the different characters in the game. In the minds of children, a character in the game that is seen as an important figure and more interesting can easily be chosen as a role model. They may copy the looks of the character, his style or the words that are frequently used by the character. Since the media plays a very important role in the development of a child, a child could adapt the qualities of an aggressive character at any moment. A character that finds solution through aggression, shows no mercy, and is almost never punished for behaving aggressively could easily influence violent behaviors in a child (Konijn, Bijvank, and Bushman). What makes video games more influential in violent behavior is that, violent behavior is not only seen in the game but it is also controlled by the player himself, from

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his finger tips to his brain. The effects are more harmful in playing than watching. In an experimental study investigating the differential effects on actively playing vs. passively watching the same video game of subsequent aggressive behaviors, fifty-seven children (Aged 10-13) played a violent video game, watched the same violent video game, or played a non-violent video game. Aggression was measured through peer nominations of real-life aggressive incidents during a free play session at school. After the active participation of actually playing the violent video game, boys behaved more aggressively than did the boys in the passive game condition (Polman, de Castro, and van Aken). Children may not fully understand the difference between what is fictional and what is nonfictional because they are still in a critical stage of learning, which is shaped by experience, consequences, punishment, and reward. After playing a game or watching a movie, children develop a tendency of applying in real-life what was leant (good or bad) in the game or movie. For example, after...
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