Millennials are living what some would say “the life”, with the never-ending gadgets that are being made to keep them entertained. The most popular form of entertainment for millennials is video games. Ninety percent of children in America’s, favorite pastime is playing video games (Prot, Sara, et al. 193). With the help of millennials, the average percent concerning this popular past time has increased more in the last ten years. Which has given researchers more help studying whether all video games are bad for our young generation or just the violent video games. There is also more research being done to see if violent video games are to blame for school shootings. There are lawmakers and leaders that are concerned for the young generation and always asking the question: Other than having research done, are there anyone trying to protect the millennials from this? Many have tried to protect millennials, but each time have been sadly overruled. The most asked question with the violent video game concern is; Are there damaging long term side effects to letting a young child play violent video games? Millennials growing up turn to video games for entertainment. The violence pictured can leave a harmful mark on impressionable minds which can lead them to violence later.
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Video games have become more popular over the last ten years, than ever before. Millennials make up 27% of the US video game users (Distribution of Computer). It is also recorded that millennials that play video games, play up to two hours per day (Prot, Sara, et al.193). Yet males have been recorded to play up to four hours per day rather than female players (193).
This statistic chart from, Distribution of computer and video gamers in the United States from 2006 to 2018, by gender, shows the gender gap data between 2006 to 2018. During, those twelve years it is shown that males play video games more than females. The statistic for women never dropped below 38% while the men’s statistic never dropped below 52%. In the years 2006 and 2007 males were at a record high with 24% higher video game usage than females. For women, their top usage years were 2012 and 2014. It was calculated in 2014 that 25% of the world’s population were gamers. That is 1.8 billion people playing video games (Distribution of Computer). The top two video game genres recorded in 2016 were both extremely violent, they were action/fighting content and shooting/killing content. (Distribution of Computer).
There are many positive side effects with a child playing video games, but it all depends on the type of video game that is being played. A non-violent video game would be most ideal for young children because they get influenced more easily. It can help promote better social skills, improve motor skills, and makes them practice strategies which helps exercise their mind. Violent video games (VVG) hold high levels of violence that can influence and alter a way a child begins to think. It can increase their aggression levels while lowering their empathy levels. Convincing them that dangerous situations are not as bad they should recognize them to be.
Most researchers which include psychologist and scientists have found that non-violent video games are not harmful to the youth. Darcia F. Narvaez mentions some research done by Steven Johnson in her article, Playing violent video games: Good or bad?, the video games that are a “frustrating experience” but do not have violence in them, can help promote more intelligence within the player. The frustrating experience could require the player to repeat the problem in the game over until it is solved. He compares the Sims and Pac Man together, saying that the Sims helps with prosocial events. While Pac Man just promotes skill solving problems; instead, with no help from any real social connection. Johnson means that the Sims can help anyone with social anxiety by taking what they learned through the prosocial game and apply that in real life social events (Narvaez).
Narvaez states that violent video games have more of an effect on children than violent movies or television. Even though VVG can promote skill solving problems just like a non-violent video game does, VVG come with at least three negative side effects. The first negative side effect a player can experience from playing a violent video game is associating violence with pleasure (par 5). The second negative side effect is that when a player practices the violent content over and over, they start becoming more familiarized with the actions (par 6). Ultimately teaching children how to act and think like a juvenile. The third common side effect is having the player becoming addicted to the game. Especially, if the player is under 20 because their minds are not fully developed yet and can influence their decisions more into adulthood (par 7).
The first long term negative side effect from playing violent video games for children can be that they start to associate violence with pleasure. In a Dartmouth research, they conducted that video gaming teens that play violent content that is too mature for their age are more likely to show different behaviors aside with aggression. They are more likely to use alcohol, smoke cigarettes, and act more delinquency than before (New Study: Video Games and Teens’ Behavior). In another Dartmouth research done in 2012, they found teens are more likely to “drive recklessly and experience increases in automobile accidents, police stops, and a willingness to drink and drive” (par 3) if they played video games such as Grand Theft Auto.
With the second negative side effect from VVG, comes from children practicing over and over the violent actions being performed through the game. It becomes the child’s automatic response to situations. Having the young mind to think aggressively during situations or to think that using violent actions as shown in their game is the right response could be very dangerous. For example, if a child gets bullied at school and decides to use a move from their video game that they have been exposed too; it could result in that child hurting someone badly or getting hurt. They start to act as though they are the character in their game performing the violent action.
The third side effect from Narvaez’s article, suggest that the more addictive the video game is the more harmful it is. The video game becomes addictive because it influences and awards the gamer for playing and learning the violent actions. Which could be passing a level in the game once they get the violent action accomplished after trying to do so for so long. Narvaez states that recent searches have come up suggesting that addictive violent actions in the video games start to damage the final stages of the brain development process for millennials. Since the brain is not fully developed until mid-20’s this could result in less mature decision making and starts to take away empathy for others (Narvaez).
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In 2011, California lawmakers saw that violent video games were impacting their youth and had “legal obligation to protect children from graphic interactive images when the industry has failed to do so” (Mears). They created a law that would prohibit businesses to sale violent video games to minors. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court shut it down saying that it was against our First Amendment. If the law had been approved, businesses could have been fined up to $1,000 if caught selling VVG to minors. The Governor at the time, Arnold Schwarzenegger, said “We have a responsibility to our kids and our communities to protect against the effects of games that depict ultraviolent actions, just as we already do with movies,” There have been efforts in eight other states to have restrictions for certain violent video game content, but each time has been rejected. Eleven other states backed California during that time saying that they agreed there should be more limitations on what is being exposed to children even if it was through video games. If the Supreme Court pass laws that protect children from seeing certain content on the internet, then there should be laws that protect children from seeing potentially worse content through a video game.
Even though in 2018, the United States still do not have any laws against violent video games it does not mean that the dangerous outcomes are not grabbing higher attention. In March 2018, after the horrible Florida school shooting massacre, President Donald Trump held a conference at the round table to discuss and determine if school shootings could be a side effect of violent video games (Bump). While also looking at the way VVG are altering the young generations minds. A reporter from The Washington Post, Phillip Bump, did his own research and gave his analysis between the two; yet not before putting this quote in his article from President Trump:
“We have to look at the Internet because a lot of bad things are happening to young kids and young minds and their minds are being formed,” Trump said, according to a pool report, “and we have to do something about maybe what they’re seeing and how they’re seeing it. And also video games. I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.”
President Trump clearly see’s that violent video games are influencing our young generation. He also acknowledges that there should be something put into place to protect the minds of the next generation from being wrongly influenced. Unfortunately, Phillip Bump did not agree with the President. Bump puts in his article that the Army does in fact use a form of violent video games as training tools. But then states that there could be no links between “violent video games and incidents in gun violence” (Bump). Phillip Bump continues his argument that countries with the most spending percentages on violent video games do not have the most death percentages. Because the people are too invested with playing the video game to go out and experience the real thing. Many researchers that have studied the negative side effects of violent video games at a young age would disagree with Bump. The Army is a perfect example of why Bump is wrong, it has a technique to prepare soldiers for battle by letting them play certain violent video games as a training tool to prepare them for battle, that is influencing the mind with violence.
Violent video games are ruining our young generation minds by convincing them that it is okay to associate violence with pleasure, having the violent video game action become an automatic response for situations, or letting it become an addiction because it makes the player feel like they are getting awarded for learning violent actions. VVG are possibly influencing 25% of the world’s population through their devices without them knowing. Yet with the 25% of the population who are video gamers, it has helped increased the most favorable past time for millennials in numbers to help researchers and psychologist figure out if there are any nastier long-term side effects. Even though lawmakers in California have seen that there should be something done back in 2011 and got denied from the Supreme Court. There are still people pushing to show that there needs to be laws protecting the young generation from such exposure. Violent video games have long term effects on the young generation’s minds. It can be a powerful influencer and destroy the way some millennials think if there is no action going to take place to protect them soon.
- Bump, Philip. “If Video Games Spur Gun Violence, It’s Only in the United States.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 8 Mar. 2018, www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2018/02/22/if-video-games-spur-gun-violence-its-only-in-the-united-states/.
- Entertainment Software Association. “Distribution of Computer and Video Gamers in The United States from 2006 to 2018, by Gender.” Statista – The Statistics Portal, Statista, www.statista.com/statistics/232383/gender-split-of-us-computer-and-video-gamers/, Accessed 8 Nov 2018
- Mears, Bill. “California Ban on Sale of ‘Violent’ Video Games to Children Rejected.” CNN, Cable News Network, 27 June 2011, www.cnn.com/2011/US/06/27/scotus.video.games/index.html.
- “Playing Violent Video Games: Good or Bad?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/moral-landscapes/201011/playing-violent-video-games-good-or-bad.
- Prot, Sara, et al. “Video Games: Good, Bad, or Other?” Academic Writing, Real World Topics, Broadview Press, 2015, pp. 192–206.
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