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Technological advancement has been a blessing and a curse to modern day society, and both sides have been appreciated all the same. Modern technology has brought about a number of activities that can be enjoyed at one’s leisure such as the Internet for chatting with friends and social networking, in addition to video games that can be enjoyed both by the young and the old. Unlike how it was in the past, children of today enjoy video games instead of going out and playing a game of football or cards with their friends. The reason to this is that the latter tends to be rather monotonous when making decisions. Moreover, with the development and evolvement of urban centers, playground spaces are rapidly being consumed by the architectural industry. Video games have been in existence since the early 1970s where the first ever arcade video game known as Computer Space was introduced.
Video games can either be educational or just for pleasure but a lot of controversy has come up in the recent past regarding some of the content and characters features on these video games. The main target of video games manufacturers is children and young adults rather than the adults themselves but it seems that a number of them currently contain mature themes and graphic violence which has risen concerns (Children Now 2001). Such content tends to affect these children and young adults at a later future as they become desensitized to violence and/or embrace the pervasion of sex, forgetting the value of it and what it stands for in the first place. A number of studies and researches have been conducted to prove the fact that violence in video games is indeed quite harmful to children and generally those who engage in them.
The following professionals have given their view of why video games are quite harmful for kids to play. Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University, Craig Anderson, a professor of psychology at Iowa State University and Deana Pollard Sacks, a professor of law at Texas Southern University recently conducted an investigation on the issue of violence in video games and the effects it has on children (Funk 1993). Brad Bushman also has an appointment in psychology. He has published extensively on the causes and consequences of human aggression.
Bushman’s work has questioned the utility of catharsis and relates also to violent video game effects on aggression (Funk 1993). Along with Roy Baumeister, his work suggests that it is narcissism, not low self-esteem, which causes people to act more aggressively after an insult. Similarly to video games, losing while playing may make the child violent due to narcissism. The fact that they want to satisfy their ego makes them violent. There was even an article that stated that the Army was recruiting Video Gamers to create a game called “America’s Army that was created by the U.S. Army. This further explains the issue of egotism and narcissism. It was designed to “win over the hearts and the minds of the American teenagers” (Army Recruits Video Gamers, 2004) and give the future recruits a taste of virtual warfare. Bushman stated that “War is not a game” and then complains that the video game is not real enough. He then also said that it is all is just a sanitized view of what actually goes on in real wars. They also carried out analysis on the research output of experts who apparently had filed a brief in the United States Supreme Court case, which involved violent video games and teens (Children Now 2001). Therefore, narcissism as propagated through video games promotes aggressive behavior in gamers amongst children.
Steven F. Gruel who is an experienced attorney with an established track record of success in state and federal criminal defense came up with a brief on the effects of video violence in children, commonly known as the ‘Gruel brief’. Thus, the analysis was made was that of credentials of 115 individuals who signed the Gruel brief and who believe video violence is harmful to children and the rest who did not believe that video violence is indeed harmful to children. Results revealed that those who believed that video games are harmful to children as well as adults who play them have also published a study in that field as compared to those who believed otherwise (Schlegelmilch 1998). Their conclusion – majority of individuals in the world also believe that video games are harmful to children.
Craig Anderson is a professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at Iowa State University. He has done extensive research on human aggression, and it has been published in multiple journals. His research was used in the Illinois video game legislation defense where he was described as, “The nation’s pre-eminent researcher on the effect of exposure to violent video games” (SPCS 2007).
In 2001, Anderson and Bartholow studied the differences in genders (Funk 1993). It was between aggressive actions after playing violent video games. The research found that male college aged students demonstrated that there is a substantial increase in aggression right after playing a violent video game, like Mortal Kombat, versus a game, that is not violent at all, such as PGA Tournament Golf. (Anderson, C. A. 2004) Women studied showed a significantly smaller increase in aggression after playing the game. Two of the concerns of this study are the small sample size, which was forty-three, and analysis of short-term effects on aggression.
The effects of video violence cut across genders and researchers have focused on how to deal with the different gender groups. One of these is Dr. Melanie Killen, a psychologist who has helped in the development of educational video games as a way of teaching children peaceful conflict resolution techniques (Kutner & Olson 2008). A reference is made on a popular video game, which even though it does not depict sexual scenes, is quite violent with the exception of images of exposed enemy buttocks (Funk 1993). The Doctor argued that such violent video games are also quite capable of sending the message that violence, as well as insults containing sexual innuendos are the most appropriate and acceptable ways of handling problems and disputes that may arise. This exposure to sexual innuendos by video games to children is considered problematic, in addition to the fact that crude jokes are the mainstays of television programs (Children Now 2001). Children are taught by such video games that it is morally acceptable to make sexual and crude jokes at any given time and situation without much regard to the consequences that may cause.
Killen, who has tried multiple times to get the government to make laws that govern the sale of video games, disagrees that the ESRB rating system is working. She says nine-year-olds are playing games like Bulletstorm and that there is no real enforcement.(John Brandon 2011) The FCC monitors all TV broadcasts and stiffly fines broadcasters for violating decency rules, yet there are no penalties in place for retailers who sell violent games to kids.
The ever-improving technology provides players with advanced graphics, which tend to provide a more realistic virtual playing experience. It is rather unfortunate that with this improvement comes more violence in the video games and studies reveal that children and teens who are exposed to such tend to become more aggressive as they grow older (Kutner & Olson 2008). A study was carried out by Linder, Gentile, Lynch and Walsh (2004) regarding violence in video games where teenage girls were requested to play video games for an average of 5 hours per week and boys an average of 13 hours per week (Funk 1993).
By the end of the study by Linder et al. (2004), it was observed that the teens who played violent games for extended periods of time such as the girls became more prone to confrontation with their teachers and peers, tended to be more aggressive and begun performing poorly in their academics (Children Now 2001). This proved the fact that violence in video games are indeed harmful and tend to increase aggressive behavior since the violent acts are continually repeated in the course of the video game. Also, video games in my opinion are adversely affecting the young children more than adults. I also believe that the effects on the children are so severe at times that it does threaten their social welfare.
On the contrary, Warren (2010) believes that computer video games are important and should be indulged in a manner that is consistent and appraised. The underlying reason for this is the predisposition that video games sharpen the gamer’s intelligence. This is one of the main reasons that he advocates the purchase of computer games. The question that other researchers would ask is whether this is applicable to all ages and groups. He believes that the video games teach children and young people some fundamental skills in a fashion that is enjoyable (Warren, 2010). All the same, he raises some concern on addiction and does not advocate for that to either category of individuals. Therefore, these benefits have limits and are apparently risky for young children who may not be prudent enough to avoid addiction.
A friend of mine in the past would like to rattle on how his parents do not care about what he does, he does whatever he wants, and also how much he would rather spend his quality time playing video games; he would say all of that in a quick conversation that we’d have walking by each other in the hallways. That is why I agree with the Children’s Now (2001) article because it shows that even though parents buy all of the video games that their children ask for, it does not make up for not spending any quality time with them; which makes them then socially awkward, and then makes them relinquish important parts of life that makes one’s mind stable.
The first of the issues to be discussed will be the amount of time children are allowed to spend on video games as it has been observed to have an effect in terms of their temperance and emotions in future. Additionally, there are those games that allow children to play online with unknown adults and other peers and this may influence them even more especially without any adult supervision (Kutner & Olson 2008). Large amounts of time and money are currently being spent on video games and children need to be taught early enough on how to control their urges and save money for future use or for other constructive use.
When children and young adults spend a lot of time playing video games it can lead to problems and issues such as aggressive thoughts and behavior, poor academic performances, poor social skills due to lack of socialization and always being alone as well as becoming overweight due to lack of enough exercise (Funk 1993). What children see have a significant contribution to their way of thinking and the things that they will definitely do. With the curiosity at their age, violence in video games is likely going to be evident in their lives.
Another issue that is to be discussed is that of the contents of the video games. Some may suggest that the best way to control children and their exposure to violence and/or sex in video games is to take them away but due to the popularity of this particular technology it may prove rather difficult. Additionally, while some video games may possess educational content, majority of them emphasize negative themes and instead promote criminal behavior, killing of people and animal, sexual exploitation and violence towards women, obscenities, foul language and disrespect for authority and law (Kutner & Olson 2008).
Due to the obscenities and at times partial nudity displayed in video games, young girls tend to develop a twisted and corrupted view regarding their sexuality. Researchers have discovered that sexualization can result in a lack of confidence with the young girls’ bodies as the sexual images portrayed on the video games have a negative effect (Children Now 2001). This may cause the girls to develop eating disorders in order to look like the images portrayed on these games as they believe that they are not only the in-thing but is how a woman ought to look like. If such mentality goes unmonitored by the parents especially the mother, the girls may not develop positive sexuality in as far as their bodies and self-image is concerned.
Viewing of video games may result to violent actions. Historical studies suggest that there is a direct link between biological influences and young people’s choice (Sherry, 2001). A person who is naturally or biologically obsessed to aggression is likely to trigger violence and act violently when provoked and lead to destructive actions. People suffering from anti-social personality disorder are more likely to go out in the public and start shooting people after long hours of a game of a similar nature. All these actions are only common among young children who spend most of their time watching destructive video games. The most dangerous impact of video games is the effect on social development of the young generation (Ferguson, 2009).
It has been established that the children’s aggression are triggered by the violent video games. From a psychological perspective, the word aggression may be used to mean malice or desire to cause harm to others. Video games make children become careless and may affect children’s growth and social behavior to a greater extent. Strict laws must be imposed to regulate the behavior of young children. This must be aimed at having a future healthy generation that can be relied on. Heavy penalties need to be imposed on anyone found opening dangerous and unsuitable sites to young children to stop the vice from spreading (Sherry, 2001). This is very important in order to preserve our future that is dependent on the present generation. The parents need to be made aware of the dangers the video gaming pose to their children for them to stop buying their children the same since it has been observed that they are the ones providing the young children with such materials.
The opinion presented in this paper is not to disregard the works of others. Video games were initially regarded as recreational tools and are still useful in that sense (Warren, 2010). However, the latest developments have left a lot to be desired. While adults can easily handle the addiction to video games, children need guidance on the same. What is simply agitated for is the need to take into account the interests of the gamers. Providing for the interests of all requires good ethics and values in line with the reality on the ground. Happiness and the good life for the children are not and cannot only be found in violent video games. While video games have been an excellent tool of solving problems like confining heights, phobia and spaces, they have created more problems than benefits. Not many people use video games for the right purpose and more especially the children. Video games have been stated as a good cure for language and disabilities of learning, but children fall prey to video games as they are not mature enough to make a distinction of this.
In this research paper, it is rather obvious that the opinions and observations of the experts appear to have much more foundation and support as compared to those of the public. This can be attributed to the fact that the public is actually the victim of violence and sex in video games and, therefore, are not in a position to observe or analyze the effects such has on their behaviors and life in general. With this information, psychologists and researchers have been able to come up with concrete answers as to the manner in which violence and sex tends to affect children and those few adults engaged in the activity. It is, therefore, important for the society to redirect their efforts at monitoring and controlling the content and the amount spent on video games so as to ensure that such children do not grow up to be aggressive and violent individuals.
Video games are not as good as many parents think. The children’s parents have been found to be the ones perpetrating the trend and are a major cause of the widespread video gaming among young children. Failure to take action in the present may lead to serious destruction of the young generation. There is a lot of potential in young children, and if it is not guided, it may turn out to be destructive through the violence seen in video games.