Violent Video Games and Aggressive Behavior in Adolescents


ViolentVideo Games and Aggressive Behavior in Adolescents

ViolentVideo Games and Aggressive Behavior in Adolescents

Videogames have become some of the most convenient and desirable forms ofentertainment for a large number of children, both in the UnitedStates and the entire world at large. Their appeal to individuals,both young and old, has been credited to the fact that they are adistinctive form of entertainment as they allow for the participationof the players in determining the script that the game follows. Asmuch as video games have been around for more than three decades, thesophisticated video games that are available today require thatplayers fully concentrate and pay constant attention to the games(Andersonet al, 2007).Indeed, it has been well acknowledged that players of today’s videogames engage in a deeper level, both emotionally and physically thanindividuals who are watching television or a movie. Underlining theincreased adoption or incorporation of video games in today’ssociety, and especially, among the youth, is the fact that more than97 percent of teens in the United States play these video games, inwhich case their sales have been skyrocketing in the recent times(Gimpel,2013).Indeed, research has shown that the domestic video game industryearns an annual revenue of close to $12 billion per year (Gimpel,2013).This may be complemented by the fact that children of today havegrown up in an environment where they have unfettered access to allkinds of media in which video games can be played includingcomputers, cell phones and iPads (Andersonet al, 2007).Research has further shown that youths between the ages of 8 and 18dedicate an average of 8 hours per day to entertainment media andspecifically video games. Even more worrying is the fact that lessthan 50 percent of the kids state that their parents implement rulesand regulations regarding the games and shows that they can play orwatch (Netzley,2013).

Ofparticular note is the fact that as much as a large number of parentscheck the video games’ censor rating prior to allowing their kidsto buy them, research has shown that 50% and 14% of boys and girlsrespectively liked and played games that have been rated “M”(Mature) or even “AO”, (adult only), whose implication is thatthey have a high degree of violence (Netzley,2013).It is not surprising, therefore, that this should be a cause forconcern for all stakeholders, be they parents or even policymakers inthe government (Netzley,2013).This is especially considering the reigning concerns regarding theeffects of television violence on the behavior of children (Dowdet al, 2006).Since time immemorial, research has shown that there exists acause-effect or positive relationship between violence in televisionand the levels of aggression among the youths and children who watchsuch movies or TV programs (Potter,2003).A large number of social scientists have underlined the belief thatvideo games would have an even greater effect on the participants.This has been cemented by a number of factors.

First,it has well been acknowledged that children have a higher likelihoodfor imitating the actions pertaining to the character or player thatthey identify with in the video games. This is usually the winningcharacter, who, more often than not, is the most violent. In violentvideo games, it is noteworthy that players take part as charactersand even have the opportunity to select the weapons that they maymake use of when combating other characters (Kirsh,2006).

Inaddition, it has been well acknowledged that video games, by theirnature, necessitate that the individuals or players participateactively. More often than not, the players would have to makedecisions regarding the type of action to take at a particular pointof the game (Berger,2002).Indeed, players, in any interactive video game, are encouraged torole play or identify with their favorite characters and often moveup the varying game levels as the character that they have taken upmasters and perfects the skills of the game and wins (Dowdet al, 2006).In video games pertaining to stock cars, winning may revolve aroundbeing the first to win the race (Berger,2002).However, in a large number of popular video games, the players wouldonly advance to the next level by winning battles and fights. Indeed,it has well been acknowledged that players would only benefitdirectly by taking part in or participating in acts of violence(Gentile,2003).Unfortunately, children may not have the requisite mental ability todifferentiate the actions that they have to take in the video gamesand those decisions that they may have to make in the course of theirreal lives (Massey,2009).

Onthe same note, it is noted that repetition often results inperfection or learning behavior. Of particular note is the fact thatvideo games involve an immense level of repetition. This means thatin instances where the video games are violent or incorporate animmense level of violence, the effect would be a behavioral rehearsalfor violence (Dowdet al, 2006).This is worsened by the fact that rewards are a positivereinforcement to learning particular behavior. In the case of almostall video games, an individual would move to the next level only uponwinning in the previous one, a feat that is often achieved by themost cunning and vicious player (Freedman,2002).This would essentially mean that the individuals are learning to useviolence so as to achieve in real life. Of course, violent media maynot be the sole cause of violence in the society. However,researchers have underlined the fact that persistent exposure toviolent media would cause individuals, especially the youth to formthe belief that violence may be a positive and acceptable techniquefor solving problems (Gimpel,2013).Indeed, this technique of repetition has for a long time beenconsidered to be an effective technique for teaching behavior amongchildren, as well as for reinforcing particular learning patterns(Massey,2009).

Withall these aspects in mind, it is, therefore, not surprising that evenwhen researchers controlled for prior aggression, children whoparticipated in more violent video games in the course of thebeginning of a school year exhibited higher levels of aggressioncompared to other children later on in the school year (Freedman,2002).

Numerousstudies and researches have been done in an effort to further explorethis subject and to particularly determine whether playing violentvideo games comes with any negative effects on the adolescentbehavior. This is, essentially, the main reason for this study, withparticular interest being in the youth and especially adolescents.


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