The Influence of Videogames on Youth

Topics: Video game, Video game controversy, Violence Pages: 6 (1892 words) Published: January 17, 2013
The Influence of Videogames on Youth


The Influence of Video Games on Youth: Implications for Learning in the New Millennium Karen E. Dill Lenoir-Rhyne College

The Influence of Videogames on Youth The Influence of Video Games on Youth: Implications for Learning in the New Millennium Like any medium, videogames are a channel of communication whose effects


vary widely with the content of the specific game in question. Experimental, longitudinal and meta-analytic data indicate that playing violent video games increases aggression, hostility, and aggressive thoughts (Anderson, Buckley, & Gentile, 2007; Anderson & Bushman, 2001; Anderson, Carnagey, Flanagan, Benjamin, Eubanks & Valentine, 2004; Anderson & Dill, 2000). Games with positive content show positive effects. For example, playing a dancing video game can help children lose weight (Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution, 2007; O’Hannon, 2007; Epstein, Beecher, Graf & Roemmich, 2007). Video Games, Motivation, and Addiction Television is still the most popular form of media with youth (Roberts & Foehr, 2004). Although educational videos have been used for decades in the classroom, there are reasons to believe that interactive media are more powerful teachers on several levels. B. F. Skinner discovered many of the principles of a powerful learning paradigm called Operant Conditioning. The very nature of interactive media means they provide an excellent model for learning (Dill & Dill, 1998). Specifically, video games use mostly positive reinforcement on a schedule that is known to reinforce habit strength (Braun & Giroux, 1989; Dill & Dill, 1998). The Energization Theory of motivation and emotion (e.g., Brehm, Wright, Solomon, Silka, & Greenberg, 1983) predicts effort and energy mobilization to be greatest for a difficult, but possible task where success is rewarded. Videogames are an excellent example of what this theory of motivation predicts to be the most highly motivating tasks (Dill & Dill, 1998). Gentile and Gentile (in press) call video

The Influence of Videogames on Youth games “exemplary teachers,” noting the following seven exemplary dimensions of video games: 1) clear objectives with adaptable difficulty levels, 2) active learning with practice and feedback, 3) over-learning to gain mastery, 4) extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, 5) increasing difficulty across levels where past learning can be applied 6) close-to-optimal combination of massed versus distributed practice and 7) learning that can be applied to different problems and contexts. As early as the 1980s, researchers began considering whether videogame play is addictive (Dill & Dill, 1998). Egli and Myers (1984) identified “compulsive” behaviors


associated with video game play, finding that about 13% of the adolescents they surveyed sacrificed other activities and compulsively invested money and time in gaming. Braun and Giroux (1989, p. 101) called video games “the perfect paradigm for induction of ‘addictive’ behavior.” A psychotherapist (Klein, 1984) noticed that some of his teenaged clients exhibited what he would term addictive behavior regarding video game play (e.g., stealing money or spending lunch money to play videogames). Suler (2004) provides a balanced view of cyber addictions, noting that some level of devotion to a hobby is healthy, but that in pathological addictions, the bad outweighs the good. Negative Social Effects of Video Games: Violence, Sex, and Race Because research consistently shows that most popular video games are violent (Buchman & Funk, 1996; Burgess, Stermer & Burgess (in press); Provenzo, 1991; Dill, Gentile, Richter & Dill, 2005; Dill & Thill, in press, Funk, 1993; Lachlan, Smith & Tamborini, 2005) and because of the potential harm to children, youth and society of this negative influence, much video game research has focused on the effects of violent video games. Modeled after the extensive literature on television violence effects, the violent...

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(Eds.), Featuring females: Feminist analyses of the media. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Dill, K. E., & Thill, K. P. (in press) Video game characters and the socialization of gender roles: Young people’s perceptions mirror sexist media depictions. Sex Roles Dill, K. E., Brown, B. P., & Collins, M. A. (2007). Effects of Media Stereotypes on Sexual Harassment Judgments and Rape Supportive Attitudes: Popular Video Game Characters, Gender, Violence and Power. Manuscript in Preparation. Epstein, L. H, Beecher, M. D., Graf, J. L., & Roemmich, J. L. (2007). Choice of interactive dance and bicycle games in overweight and non-overweight youth, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 33(2), 124-131. Funk, J. B. (1993). Video games: Benign or malignant? Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 13, 53-54. Funk, J. B., & Buchman, D. D. (1996). Playing violent computer games and adolescent self concept, Journal of Communication, 46, 19-32. Gentile, D. A., & Gentile, J. R. (in press) Violent video games as exemplary teachers: A conceptual analysis. Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Koepp, M. J. Gunn, R. N., Lawrence A. D. Cunningham, V. J. Dagher, A. Jones, T et al. (1998). Evidence for striatal dopamine release during a video game, Nature, 393, 266-268. Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution provides health benefits to children of West Virginia (2007, February 1). West Virginia University Today, Retreived July 23, 2007 from Lachlan, K.A., Smith, S.L. & Tamborini, R. (2005). Models for aggressive behavior: The attributes of violent characters in popular video games, Communication Studies, 56, 313-329. O’Hannon, C. (2007) Eat breakfast, drink milk, play Xbox, T H E Journal, 34. Suler, J. (2004). Computer and cyberspace addiction. International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 1, 359-362. Walsh, DA. (2004). Why Do They Act That Way? A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen. New York: Free Press. Walsh, D. A. (2006, June) Violent and Explicit Video Games: Informing Parents and Protecting Children, Testimony given before the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection
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