The transformation of mans life from the primitive being to the civilized one has occurred from the turn of the 18th century. The start of the 19th century witnessed more scientific discoveries. Techno-science is credited with these discoveries, and what this has done is that it has improved life on earth and made it better. We now live a world whereby all ages have some form of scientific discovery that makes life better and more sophisticated. It is true that sophistication is the principal reason behind all scientific discoveries. Moreover, the nature of man is that man is a creature that seeks to improve its own existence by bringing forth a myriad of scientific discoveries
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Techno- science has brought with it a lot of discoveries, and this has made life on earth to be better and more comfortable. One such field is that of entertainment. Be it music, videos, video games or even sports, techno- science has ensured that electronic gadgets have been created, thereby improving people’s lives. The chief beneficially to technological advancements in entertainment is children and young adults/adolescents. Video games are a top mode of entertainment among this young group of people. Video games are the creation of computers, and while even adults play these games, the market segment is children and young people. However much technological advancement are on the rise, techno-scientists have been accused of creating products without having to care about the potential effects of these products to the market segment. For instance, violent video games are immensely entertaining to children and young people, but what is puzzling is that, innovators of these products do not have the slightest care concerning the effect that these games have on the users (Anderson & Bushman, 39). For years, video games have been accused of poisoning the minds of young people and children, which is detrimental to their development as they ape what they see in these videos. This essay analyses violent video games as being a contributor to aggressive behavior, especially in children and teenagers. By analyzing violent video games and their correlation with aggressive behavior, the study will establish how this issue can be reduced and surmounted, and how the behavior of young people is maintained to noteworthy levels.
Violent video games
Video games have been in existence from the 70s. Video games were created as a mode of entertainment by all age groups, but the principle market segment is children and teenagers who spend most of their free time indoors. These games have been seen as a way of enhancing the creativity and learning abilities of children, and are recommended for parents for their children. The popularity of action-hero movies triggered video game manufacturers to inject a new perspective into video games; violence. By doing this, they hoped to grasp larger audiences and entice younger ages more with their products. This was a marketing tool that was meant to revolutionize their business and make it more real. In these games, the users take the form of action-heroes who engage in violent confrontations with others. These heroes must keep winning duels so that the game advances to the next level. This pumps the adrenaline in game users until they become addicted as they want to advance to the next level and be “winners” in these violent duels. To the manufacturers, video games are created to entertain and please the users, but apart from entertaining them, violent video games have been accused of behavioral modification especially in young users by giving them aggressive and violent traits.
In an era where action movies and thrillers fascinate young people and adults alike, video game manufacturers are taking advantage of this craze by coming up with video games with an injected bit of violence. The problem that has cropped up is that, video games being mostly used by children and young teenagers influence the behavior of this group of people. An adult views these games as a form of entertainment, but to a young person, it is both entertainment and a site to mimic behavior. While adults and senior teenagers play violent games, they do not seem to be affected much due to their perception. While an adult sees these games as a way of entertainment, a child may not understand why someone goes around the street shooting others or causing bodily harm to others. To them, it seems normal, and with this perception, behavioral modification is bound to occur. These children easily become aggressive and engage in endless confrontations with their peers.
The debate concerning violent video games and ways in which they lead to aggressive behavior has been around for years. Steinfeld (27) writes in his book “”It becomes clear to me that the major causal relationship between the televised violence and the antisocial behavior is enough to warrant immediate and appropriate remedial action. â€¦ There comes a time when the data are sufficient to justify action. That time has come.” From then, more studies have been conducted and as Anderson and Bushman found out in their 2002 study “there is a direct correlation between violent media exposure and aggression”. Studies have shown that there is a link between violence in electronic media and real life aggression. This stretches into video games. Violent video games are analogous to violent media exposure.
A study by Gentile, lynch, Linder and Walsh (2004) has shown that relative growth of these games has made American teenagers more aggressive in nature and to have terrible behaviors and attitudes. In this study, research was carried out from six hundred and seven students from four schools to confirm the violence that these games bring out in pupils attending the eighth grade. Teenagers who were exposed to many video games of a violent nature were reported to be hostile, and they could get into arguments with teachers easily and more frequently. They were involved in physical fights with fellow students at a higher rate and were poor performers in school.
By comparison, violent video games bring more harm than violent TV programs. Unlike TV watching, playing video games is more involving and engaging. Whenever someone plays as a violent character in a video game, they try to identify with that particular character. In case they play as the same character over and over, it is easy for these traits to be transcribed into their behavior (Deselms and Altman, 1562). Finally, when players play as violent characters, they are awarded bonus points or, they advance to the next level. This motivates them to continually take part in these games. They become obsessed with the characters, and it can easily lead them in committing a crime.
Sales of video games in America have risen over the years with the electronic entertainment market raking more than seven billion dollars back in 1999. This surpasses the revenues of film production for the first time in American history. The sales have surpassed twenty billion American dollars. This has been fuelled by the existence of more than 200 million game boys and 80 million play stations that have been sold on the video game market. An average American kid from age 2 to 17 is able to play and stay on a video game for 7 hours or more in a week. This masks the enormous difference between the girl child and boy child with different ages. A recent study by Anderson et al in 2010 established that most teenage girls engage in these games for more than five hours in a week while boys do it for more than thirteen hours in a week. This is an average playtime of nine hours in a day that teenagers spend on games.
Studies have been conducted over the last 25 years, and most of them have looked at the final effects of video games of teenagers (Anderson and Bushman, 449). Most of these studies have managed to outline a link between these violent games and aggression. Some have even gone further by determining how video games affect school performance, and what has been established is that school performance has been compromised as a result of video games. This is a tremendous setback on the American education since the numbers of such students is on the rise. The impact of violent video games extends even to institutions of higher learning as evidenced by research done by Gentile, lynch, Linder and Walsh in 2004. In their research, they established that there are negative impacts in college students who spend most of their leisure time on violent video games instead of concentrating on studies. The grades of these students have been reported to drop drastically and they attain aggressive behavior.
Video games have been in existence for the past 30 or so years. They are a noteworthy and unique form of entertainment in that; they encourage the player to be part of the game. Video games have become so sophisticated to the point of ensuring that the player must pay close attention to what is going on. While video games have positive and negative effects, empirical studies continue showing that there are more drawbacks than advantages, especially by contributing to aggressive behavior in people, especially children and young teenagers.
Studies have shown that aggression in children and young people is determined by the time spent by playing these games. For example, a study by Walsh in 2000 revealed “most teenagers have admitted that their parents do not impose time limits on the hours they use to play video games”. A good number of parents also take no notice of the content of games that their children play. Therefore, the long playing hours coupled with parents’ profligacy in imposing their monitoring has made the teenagers aggressive. Another study by Gentile, lynch, Linder and Walsh in 2004 subjected adolescent boys and girls to long periods of video games. These researchers proved that, young people who engaged in violent video games for an extended time period are more aggressive, engage in constant confrontations and score low school performance (Gentile et al, 21). Another study finding reveals that aggression develops in game users when they engage in games that are beyond their level. Games are accorded levels corresponding to particular age groups. This needs to be followed because; young children may play games that are many levels ahead. These children happen to witness shocking scenes to a point that their young minds become affected. These children easily become aggressive.
Picture a modern video game about an assassin who is going around the street killing rival gang members. When a child or any young person mimics the assassin in the game, images of such a video game are inscribed in this their mind, and they are for sure going to become more aggressive. The child first starts mimicking the shooter with even sticks, and later they become aggressive. In most video games, players progress to the next round, and the more they play, the more they become addicted, and they more aggressive they are likely to get.
Empirical data has shown that violent video games supersede even violent films (Pollard et al, 10). The results of the study confirmed that people who engaged in violent video games became more aggressive when compared to those who were merely watching. While a few people assert that violent games are harmless, studies continue to show the opposite. There is evidence that violence video games make the players cathartic in that, they vent their angers aimlessly. In their work, Anderson et al (2010) assert that approximately 130 researches have been conducted on the same topic using over 130,000 subjects and the study findings were that; violent video games enhance aggressive thoughts and behavior, and increase one’s physiological arousal by increasing one’s pulse and blood pressure.
Anderson and Bushman conducted extensive research in 2002, and from that, they were able to come up with evidence for the topic in question. The research was aimed at investigating the link between media violence and aggression. From their study, it was revealed that players who continually engage in violent video games become aggressive since violent behavior is repeated in the games over and over. Besides, video games ensure that players are active participants instead of being passive as in movies. Moreover, players in video games identify with a particular character they adore. This is what is known as the “first person video game” (Anderson & Dill, 788). From this, players imitate the characters of these video games, which trigger them to become aggressive. For instance, a player who engages in a violent game develops aggressive thoughts. In their study, bushman & Anderson concluded that when a player who was previously exposed to violent video games encounters confrontation, they respond with an enhanced rate of aggression.
However much scientific evidence has shown that video games that are violent cause aggressive behavior especially in young people; other theorists have opposed this citing various reasons. For instance, people who engage in violent video games have claimed that even though they play video games, they have never killed anyone. This is true especially from the United States’ FBI murder figures for 2010. From the survey, it was revealed that the murder rate in the US per year is 6 in 100,000. This is a low rate implying that murder from events like violent video games is highly unlikely. But this does not mean that violent video games do not lead to aggression. Secondly, the media have contributed to the denial that violent video games do not cause aggression. This is because; media personalities have failed to admit that the product they are marketing is dangerous. This is analogous to the tobacco industry; even though the manufacturers of tobacco know that the product is harmful, they have been reluctant to admit that their product is harmful.
The role of parents in curbing aggression in their children cannot be underemphasized. Psychologists have identified that parents have a role of cautioning their children concerning violent media. Stopping your children from engaging in violent video games is unrealistic as a person is not able to supervise all the time, but it is necessary to regulate what children engage in. There are many ways parents can help (Pollard et al, 89). For one, they need not install violent media at home. Secondly, parents need to know the rating of all video games available at home, so that young children do not play games way above their level. Parents should also limit the time spent online and in playing these games. It is necessary for parents to monitor media consumption of their children.
Violence in video games is impacting negatively on the users of these games. Significant harmful effects have been reported some of these effects are short term, but others are long term and affect the gamer for the rest of the life. The effects become harmful when parents who are supposed to monitor their children when they engage in these games become careless and leave the children to continue playing video games without limit. The endgame with this is that the child starts to be a psychopath and is likely to try and experiment what was being played in video games on the real world. The child will start to be aggressive when offended in a small way and may hurt everyone in the vicinity. Electronic media have the probability of enlightening the social and learning behavior of students by replacing reading activities, time for family interactions and social time with friends. If an average child spends 7 hours in a week to engage in these games, the child is not able to engage themselves in any form of homework or reading. This results to the child becoming lazy and stubborn which may increase the aggressive nature of the child.
Summary of Findings
From the analyses of various studies and researches made, it is evident that more boys engage in violent video games than girls. Those who engage also acquire aggression with time, which leads them to engage in confrontations in school and landing in trouble in most times. These young individuals also grow up into aggressive people when their game time is excessive. Many researches also shows that, a majority of parents do not monitor their children and teenagers on the game time, making some young game players overindulge in violent games. A majority of parents also do not check the rating of the violent games, which allows even younger children to access games that are beyond their level.
Content analysis carried out by Walsh (2000) shows that more than 90% these games in the American market have some form of a violent nature and more than 60% in the global market have serious violence amongst those who take part in the game. The study concludes that a good proportion of games bought by gamers contain serious violence and the popularity of this form of games is mostly determined by the violence content that is developed among the characters. Pollard, Bushman & Anderson in their 2011 research found out that,” violence has spurred a lot among adolescents and children; this violence is mostly a result of violent video games.”
Bushman and Anderson (2002) conducted a Meta-analysis of 54 tests, which were independent about the relation between the violence of video games and physical aggression. This analysis involved more than four thousand participants and five results, which were consistent, among these gamers in relation to violent video games were derived from the analysis. Playing of violent games increases the aggressive cognitions of the participants. Violent games increase the arousal, physiologically aggressive emotion is increased by playing such games. Aggressive behaviors are increased among the gamers, and the pro- social behavior of the gamers is decreased with immediate effect. These effects termed as robust, and they are found in all ages of people in society, be it adults or children, females or males and non-experimental and experimental studies. Most of studies have been done out and results found with more than sufficient evidence that explains about the impacts of violent video games, but so far little has been done to avert this problem in the American society. Age restrictions have been imposed on accessing different kinds of video games with certain levels of violence, but somehow the young people end up getting the games from sources that are unclear.
Gamers who are born aggression seem to have increased violence while and after playing video games of a violent nature. A study by Gentile, lynch, Linder and Walsh (2004) found that the physiological impacts of engaging in these games is worse in children who had developed a violent nature before they started playing video games than those who have no violent traits. These children are more likely to start excising the violent activities that they experience in video games, in real life. Gamers with the violence trait from birth showed increases in epinephrine levels in their blood and their arterial pressure increased too. This was the reverses of the gamers who did not have this trait.
In moderating people who have the violent trait, parents and guardians should be able to notice this issue earlier when the child is growing up, and they should be able to help the child by restricting video games of violence nature. Children with this trait are not supposed to be exposed to any violence at all as they have a high probability that they will imitate the violent conditions that they experience. Parental monitoring should be able to play a significant role in ensuring that the children are safe, and they do not interact with violent videos. Instead, parents should ensure that they buy their children video games of an educational nature to motivate their children to think out of the box and increase their studies. When parents impose limits on television, the children tend to understand, the same should be done on video games and give children tight rules on accessing the games. Parents should be active in promoting positive messages that are brought with the entire video games and shun the negative messages conveyed by the violent video games. They should be the role models and convey a positive message to their children.
Gentile and Walsh (2002) carried out a study about the ability of parents to input their control on video games that are accessed by their children. More than 55% of the parents allowed their children to take play video games of their choice including the ones that have a violent nature. 40% of the parents have the ability to control what their children play, they have the ability and responsibility of checking the regulations of the game before giving the children the opportunity to play, and 5% of the parents are never at home, so children are free to engage in any form of games of their choice and desire. This study shows how most of the parents have underestimated the damage that these games are doing to their children and perhaps it is because most of the parents nowadays are workaholics and do not have adequate time to be with their children and know about their lives. Some of the parents are not even able to name the game type that their children are playing which most children take advantage of since the parents are not concerned to know what the favorite things their children like. If only parents could step up and become active in the moderating process of these video games, then it is highly likely that the children could be saved from becoming aggressive. Active parents also know what to do when their children are not performing according to standards in school. They are able to consult with teachers and tutors so that the child is given additional motivation that is required to perform better in studies.
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The importance of innovation is that it makes life enjoyable and modernized. One such aspect of modern innovation is the advent of video games. Video games have revolutionized the entertainment industry. It is entertainment for all age groups as one can relax and pass time especially during one’s free time. Even though they are used by all age groups, the target market segment is young children and teenagers. Manufacturers of video games target the young market segment as they are the group that is easily enticed and enthralled by games, and one that can spend almost the whole day playing the games if it were possible. Children and teenagers of the modern world are spending much of their free time playing these games, unlike adults who have an aspect of moderation in video game playing. Despite teenagers and children spending most of their time engaging in video games, these games have a positive attribute in their development. These games are seen as a way of improving the reasoning and intelligence of children, and for this reason they are encouraged in all home settings. Through these games also, parents are able to occupy their children during the free time. Therefore, instead of engaging in mischief and wandering about the neighborhood, video games engage children by keeping them busy. As they are addictive, children remain glued to their seats playing these games.
Despite technological innovations making life easier and better, one major problem associated with them is that, techno-scientists are obsessed with furthering their innovations to the point of coming up with principles that are bringing more harm than good to the users. When a product is liked in the market segment and the sales are always on a high, innovators always want to maintain this trend even though the product may be harmful to the market segment. One such is the discovery of violent video games. Violent video games are just the normal types of games, but they have aspects of violence by incorporating characters who engage in physical duels and confrontations with devices like guns. Initially, video games were a way of entertainment, but over time, the innovators wanted to introduce action movie concepts into these games as a marketing tool and as a way of adding appeal to video games. Manufacturers of violent video games aim to pump up the adrenaline of its users by introducing violence concepts in the games. Children and teenagers become elated by such concept. Video game manufacturers have succeeded to considerable degree because violent video game purchases have been on the rise recently. In every region of the world, video games are becoming the craze of children and teenagers. Even though violent video games cannot harm teenagers directly, the effect that is being noted is psychological and behavioural alteration. Through engaging in these games, teenagers and children start aping and copying what the games portray, and this alters their behavior. What has been observed is that, aggressive behavior has been noted in those who engage in violent video games. Being young children and teenagers, one can only wonder what individuals are going to emerge from these aggressive personalities.
Most researches as outlined above reveal that video games that contain violence continue impacting negatively on its users, especially children and teenagers. This is related to the time-frame for games and the level of violence compared to the age group. Young people spend an average of nine hours per day to play violent video games, and this time has been determined to be too much, thereby affecting them negatively. Moderation is necessary in games so that teenagers and children are not obsessed with violent games. Video games were created to be a form entertainment source, but not as a negative influence. In order for violent games to be purely a form of entertainment, then parents and guardians need to moderate the use to a few hours in a day. Children also need to be investigated so that they do not engage in games that belong to higher age groups. The human brain develops with time, and in every age group, there is a degree of what an individual can handle. The younger the individual is, the more likely they are to be affected by violent games. Older children are able to handle violent games when compared to younger ones. For this reason, every game should be used by the age group that it is created with. When this is done, coupled with moderation on the time spent playing the games, then aggressive behavior will be reduced by those that engage in violent games. However, as long as this does not happen, then violent games will continue causing the development of aggressive behavior in people, especially young users.
From the various studies conducted on the impact of violent video games study conducted, the following are the conclusions:
a) More boys engage in violent video games than girls.
b) Those who engage in violent video on a regular basis acquire aggression with time, derived from the characters they mimic in those video games
c) Teenagers who have a history of video games are led to engage in confrontations in school and landing in trouble in most times.
d) Young individuals grow up into aggressive people when their game time is excessive.
e) A majority of parents do not monitor their children and teenagers on the game time, making some young game players overindulge in violent games.
f) A majority of parents also do not check the rating of the violent games, which allows even younger children to access games that are beyond their level.
g) Most modern households have video games, and with internet games, violent video games are easy to download
These are appalling statistics. Something needs to be done to change this trend. Many products are being released into the market, and there is no one who has the right to control their release. People have the liberty to use products, but when these products start affecting users, then something needs to be done. Game manufacturers have the moral obligation to manufacture games that are not overly violent. But in a world where emphasis is on marketing and profit accumulation, no one can blame them. The onus is on parents to moderate game-time. Teenagers should understand that violent games correlate to aggressive behavior and moral decadence. They should restrain themselves and should treat games as merely an entertainment source and not as a behavior modifier. Parents will not always spend time with their children; hence, it reaches an age where teenagers need to do the right thing.
Video games have become very popular in the contemporary world, and for parents it has become difficult for them to eliminate the games from their children’s lives. Research has shown that video games are important for children development. The problem comes in when they are overused and when young people play violent video games. These have been observed to cause aggression in young people. This research has proved that analogy.
As it is difficult to eliminate videogames from the life of children and young people, the way to protect them is to reduce their negative effect through the following ways;
a) Parents need to ensure that they are aware of the rating of the violent games played by their children. The ESRB considers the sex, violence, language and substance abuse contained in a game. From this, they give the age recommendation. Each game has a rating symbol for that particular age group
b) Parents need to regulate internet usage in the homestead so that teenagers do not continually access violent games
c) Parents need to set limits of video playing do that they do not overplay
d) Parents need to monitor the media consumption of their children and guide them instead of according them too much freedom
e) Guide children on the games they should play. A parent needs to take interest in video games so that they are able to offer guidance to children. Parents need to be free with their children and ask them about their feelings about the video games. By doing this, parents grow closer to their children.
Therefore, the role of parents in curbing aggression in their children cannot be underemphasized. Psychologists have identified that parents have a role of cautioning their children concerning violent media. Stopping your children from engaging in violent video games is unrealistic as you cannot be with them all the time, but there is need to regulate what children engage in. There are many ways parents can help. For one, they need not install violent media at home. Secondly, parents need to know the rating of all video games available at home so that young children do not play games way above their level. Parents should also limit the time spend online and in playing these games. It is important for parents to monitor media consumption of their children
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