For kids, playing video games is one of the most important activities of their daily lives. Aside from doing their home works, most of these children spent time playing video games, and most probably spent more time playing as compared to the time spent in doing their homework. It is not only a trend for kids but for young adults and adults as well. From the time it was invented it has evolved into a more exciting and challenging media games of all time. Technological advancement has made it even more exciting for the players to play it and challenge themselves with tricks and clincher that comes with every game.
The graphics and sound effects are fascinating making the experience real for the player especially those three dimensional computer machines. The ability of the player to control and maneuver the situation made it more even exciting. Violent video game is one type of game that has been the most out popular among players. But with the increasing number of people engaging into these computer games, a number of issues have been raised: negative and positive effects of these violent video games to children and young adults. This essay will take the position that violent video games do have negative effects on children.
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One of the negative effects of these violent video games is the physiologic changes that happen while they are playing. The excitement brought about by these violent video games stimulates the sympathetic nervous system, thereby creating significant changes in the individual’s heart rate, respiration and other involuntary responses in the body. It is exciting and stressful at the same time, the stressful events could affect gastric stimulation and frequent adrenaline rush, and this adrenaline rush is what makes these players to feel “good” and makes them want to do it repeatedly.
Sympathetic nervous stimulation promotes vasoconstriction, and this vasoconstricting effect is not good as it alters cardiac mechanism. This in turn affects blood supply going to the central nervous system, causing dizziness, headache and nausea. According to Grossman & DeGaetano, “the effects of violent video games on young adults’ arousal levels, hostile feelings, and aggressive thoughts have been measured. Results indicated that college students who had played violent virtual reality game had a higher heart rate, reported more dizziness and nausea, and exhibited more aggressive thoughts in a posttest than those who had played a nonviolent game” (70-71).
Similarly, these violent computer games could have a direct effect on children’s behavior, since they are vulnerable especially on their formative stage. Not everybody who plays these violent video games have good foundation of moral values and an intact well being. There are those who are easily persuaded and affected by what they see in their environment, especially those children that lack parental guidance, as well as those individuals who have a low self-esteem. These vulnerable individuals are more prone to be affected by what they play and see on video games.
There is a great possibility that these supposed to be virtual thing could be played in reality. As cited by Tompkins in an article in AllPsych Journal, The Academy of Pediatrics states, “More than one thousand scientific studies and reviews conclude that significant exposure to media violence increases the risk of aggressive behavior in certain children, desensitizes them to violence and makes them believe that the world is a ‘meaner and scarier’ place than it is.” According to Tompkins, if children become accustomed and believed that this violent behavior is acceptable and normal, it will be hard to change that belief as they grow older. She also relates this to the study of domestic violence where in a person exposed to this violence tends to become either abused or be the abuser. She further explains this by citing the Columbine incident as an example, where in the two students, who committed a violent act are video fanatics. Their exposure to violence was linked to their violent act since both of them came from a family with good parental guidance.
Moreover, another negative effect of these violent video games to children is that it teaches the kids wrong values for reinforcement of behaviors. In psychology, there is a thing called “positive reinforcement”. It is a way of reinforcing a “good deed” or behavior by rewarding a child if the child has done a good job in school or if they behaved well. On the other hand, computer games bestow rewards on the player after killing or defeating their opponent. This process is totally the opposite of what id thought in “positive reinforcement”, the act of killing is rewarded and the purpose of “positive reinforcement” is defeated, which in turn could affects the child’s perception of what act or behavior must be rewarded. And this reward system in violent video games could affect the child’s behavior by imitating those seen and done in violent computer video games. As mentioned in the Gentile’s book, “reward increases imitation” (136).
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Furthermore, the experiences felt by the individual, especially in violent video games or even in media violence could have a significant effect on a child’s interpersonal interaction. Unconsciously, a child could internalize what is happening on what they see. This type of violence is emotionally stressful and could alter interpersonal interactions. “Participation in violent video games cast a negative cloud over the children’s views of interpersonal interactions. One research revealed that preschoolers most likely experienced fear and anxiety when they saw bloodied victims and watched expressions of emotional distress in connection with the media’s constant showing of the events of September 11th and their aftermath” (Cantor, 2002). These experiences that are internalized by children, unconsciously affects their behavior, and when they are placed in situations similar to what they have seen, they could become anxious and restless.
On the contrary, there are also sectors that would oppose as to the negative effect of violent video games. According to Doug Lowenstein, who is the president of the Interactive Software Association, people who do not understand the industry are prone in distorting the effects of video games on children. In fact, Lowenstein claims, violent video games cannot be shown as result in increased aggression of the part of the children (as cited in Anderson & Bushman, 2001). But how can we expect them to see the negative effect of these violent video games, well in fact what they mean is purely business.
Likewise, Steven Johnson said: “The most debased forms of mass diversion-video games and violent television dramas and juvenile sitcoms-turn out to be nutritional after all” (9). It is nutritional in the sense that learning comes along while playing these violent video games, such as mastery and control and hand-eye coordination. This paper totally disagrees with this notion. There are more appropriate ways of learning these things, without jeopardizing the minds of these children of what is good and what is wrong. Example are art camps, indoor and outdoor activities that utilizes the body, where in physical, psychological and emotional aspects are given importance, which builds friendship and the values of sportsmanship, as well as maintaining a healthy active body, which computer games don’t give. Furthermore, computer video games promote isolation, aggressive behavior and a sedentary life style by sitting long hours in front of these computers.
In conclusion, violent video game has a strong correlation in children’s aggressive behavior. Violent video game has a great impact in children’s behavioral, emotional, physiological, and psychological well being. Parents are the first line of defense against the invasion into children’s lives. The decision to buy or not to buy violent video games is a true freedom and should be taken seriously. They should know the consequences of possible effects of such materials to their children. Moreover, parents, caregivers and government sector should be more careful and protective to these vulnerable children. Manufacturer should consider designing games that will teach children the good values, true manhood and moral courage; games that will provide fun, excitement, and will give visceral pleasure that is engaging and absorbing without the unnecessary violence.