Effects of Violent Video Games on Children
The use of video games has become tremendously popular among children and adolescents in the past decade. In fact, “Sixty-eight percent of U.S. households play computer or video games.” (David Jenkins, 2009) This statistic reveals how important it is to understand the effects that these games can have on individuals and more specifically, children. Over the years, numerous studies have been conducted investigating whether video games have positive or negative impacts. An increase in popularity has raised concern with the negative effects that may or may not be occurring. Video games exploit three fundamental learning strategies and therefore are easily able to influence children and adolescence. The substantial impact that a game can have on a young person is dependant on various factors. Predominantly violent video games have been known to have the most negative impacts. After years of research, movies and video games have been proven to increase aggressive and violent behaviors. (Anderson & Dill, 2000, p. 774) This paper will primarily focus on the effects that violent video games have a child’s aggressive thoughts, feelings and behaviors. Examining research on violent video games will establish why and how video games are influencing children, the negative impacts, and possible ways to reduce these effects. Violent Video Games as an Educator
Interactive electronic gaming is becoming increasingly popular in today’s society. Youth are very vulnerable to what there are exposed to as they are still in the learning and development stage of their life and easily influenced. Children are very susceptible to their environment and their behaviour easily impacted, therefore it is important for youth to be exposed to positive influences. “I recently learned something quite interesting about video games. Many young people have developed incredible hand, eye, and brain coordination in playing these games. The air force believes these kids will be our outstanding pilots should they fly our jets.” (Ronald Reagan) There’s no question that video games have the ability to develop the minds and body functions of children. It is still uncertain what negative impacts caused by playing video games exist. Video games act as an educator, argues Gentile in his article Violent Video Games as Exemplary Teachers: A Conceptual Analysis. “violent video games use techniques that we know are effective pedagogy” (Gentile & Gentile, 2007, p.128) Gentile discusses the dimensions that cause children to learn from violent video games. The games use set objectives, over learning, instant feedback and steadily increasing difficulty to further advance learning. (Gentile & Gentile, 2007, p. 128-129) In addition, video games utilize high levels of interaction, reward for killing, and repetition of behaviors to promote cognitive development. (Anderson & Dill, 2000, p. 788) Although Gentile’s theories on learning techniques are undeniable, he lacks an essential extraneous variable. Children may be vulnerable to these learning strategies but they do partially understand the difference between fantasy and reality. Thus, suggesting that negative impacts on children may be primarily situated within the subconscious. During game play, the process of assimilation and accommodation alter children’s schemas in a negative way. Psychologist, William James, outlined learning in the following famous quote, “The great thing, then, in all education, is to make our nervous system our ally instead of out enemy … we must make automatic and habitual, as early as possible, as many useful actions as we can, and guard against the growing into ways that are likely to be disadvantageous to us, as we should guard against the plague” (The Principles of Psychology, p. 122) As William James describes, it is crucial to prevent negative education. It is clear that violent video games have a plethora of ways to educate children....
References: Anderson, C., & Dill, K. (2000). Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavior in the laboratory and in life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 772–790.
Gentile, D. A., & Anderson, C. A. (2003). Violent video games: The newest media violence hazard. In D. A. Gentile (Ed.), Media violence and children (pp. 131–152). Westport, CT: Praeger.
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