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Psychological Effects of Video Games on Children and Young Adults

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Words: 1000 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Apr 11, 2019

Words: 1000|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Apr 11, 2019

In 1961, Albert Bandura’s famous “Bobo Doll” experiment illustrated the impact of the concept of “monkey see, monkey do” on children--particularly in relation to violent media. In the experiment, when children witnessed an adult beating the inflatable clown doll, the children reacted similarly when placed in the same scenario, perfectly imitating the violence they’d seen prior. This led to the development of the concept of the “social learning theory”, still relevant today in research relating to the interaction between children and questionable media. With the results of Bandura’s experiment in hand, the American Psychological Association has done follow-up studies in modern environments as to whether or not video games have a negative psychological impact on children and teens, and were surprised to find that there is, in fact, a link between increased aggression and video game usage. However, the APA made one specific and crucial comment: it is unknown and unproven whether this increased aggression applies to increased youth aggression and violence in a real-world scenario.

'Why Violent Video Games Shouldn't Be Banned'?

While video games were commonly associated with spikes in violence within society, as evidenced by gaming witch-hunts among school shooters and at-risk youth, the same several games have been repeatedly cited as “violence-provoking”, painting a hasty generalization over all genres and indicating a direct correlation between Super Mario Bros. and Grand Theft Auto. In this light, it must be considered that the percentage of games featuring graphic violence in comparison to video games available to the public is placed in a much brighter light than it truly experiences--in a 2009 study by the ESRB, the official rating organization of video games, it was found that 48% of all video games purchased carried the family-friendly rating of E (Everyone), with second place being awarded to T (Teen) games at 23%. Only then did M (Mature) games clock in at a disproportionately low 17%, beaten to last only by the rare E10+ (Ages 10 and Up) rating that rarely is placed on video games. Among the excluded were two other and even rarer ratings: EC (Early Childhood) and A (Adult, a rating almost exclusively awarded to pornographic, explicit or borderline explicit titles, such as certain South Park games--however, most games under this rating are very limited in their exposure to the public, similar to the way A, X and XXX rated movies are advertised in the film industry, and as a result, most games have been censored substantially to fit them into the M-rated category.

The rating system is crucial to understanding the circumstances under which activity-altering violence, potentially affecting the underdeveloped frontal lobe, can occur. According to the ESRB, games ranking above the Early Childhood rating can contain violence of some depiction, but in moderation and under specific circumstances. The E rating, under which the vast majority of video games purchased and available on the market fall under, restricts violence in video games released in the United States to mild, cartoon/fantasy violence (ie. jumping on turtles, slaying a cell-shaded slime or dragon). For slightly more violence-centered scenarios, typically aimed at older audiences, E10+ often applies with similar, yet slightly elevated, standards (ie. later entries in the popular Super Smash Brothers series, Final Fantasy entries, etc.). Around the rating of Teen in the United States, graphic violence begins to emerge in limited quantities and for limited periods of time (ie. the Uncharted series, Street Fighter games and even specific darker Nintendo entries), but does not come close to the major jump in content allowed in Mature-rated video games: titles such as the often-cited Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty franchises (not to mention numerous others such as Fallout and Mortal Kombat) are permitted “intense violence, blood, gore, sexual content, and strong language” that goes beyond phrases permitted in PG-13 material (read: F-bombs). While the majority of M-rated games promote violence against aliens or other inhuman creatures, specific exceptions detailing human character-on-human character violence are cited substantially more often as being violence-provoking games--a situation rivaled by assuming all R-Rated movies such as Titanic, The Matrix, and The Terminator fall under the exact same borderline-explicit category as Django Unchained, The Wolf of Wall Street and Showgirls.

While the APA did find instances of virtual violence segwaying to internalized youth aggression, the study provided the exact same results in relation to movies and television shows--a finding supportive of (and almost identical to) Bandura’s earlier research. Furthermore, the APA found, in a separate study, that the benefits of video games on the mind far outweighed the detriments. A 2013 study on the same games and genres believed to promote violence in youth found that playing such games led to strengthening the player’s ability to think and problem-solve in a three-dimensional space, with results on par with the same concept taught and tested in a traditional learning environment. Additionally, all varieties of video games have been found to improve social relations and interactions, boost creativity, reduce anxiety, and even improve academic achievement as a result of acquired reasoning skills.

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It can be safely argued that the developing brain is impressionable to graphic displays and questionable activity--however, the concept of video games as a whole prompting children to be violent carries about as much scientific evidence as rock music leading to school shootings. As with the film and TV industry, the select few, developed specifically for mature audiences and not deliberately made for children (let alone typically accessible, thanks to modern ID requirements for game purchases) have branded the entire industry with a negative and untrue image. Video games do not promote violence in the way they are infamously portrayed to, providing far more benefits to youth than damages overall. Video games are a vital format of entertainment and, simultaneously, an important tool in advancing education and technological advances in the future. As such, it is inaccurate and even harmful to put Pacman under the same light as Master Chief.

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Psychological Effects of Video Games on Children and Young Adults. (2019, April 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 22, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-study-of-the-psychological-affects-of-video-games-on-children-and-young-adults/
“Psychological Effects of Video Games on Children and Young Adults.” GradesFixer, 10 Apr. 2019, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-study-of-the-psychological-affects-of-video-games-on-children-and-young-adults/
Psychological Effects of Video Games on Children and Young Adults. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-study-of-the-psychological-affects-of-video-games-on-children-and-young-adults/> [Accessed 22 Feb. 2024].
Psychological Effects of Video Games on Children and Young Adults [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Apr 10 [cited 2024 Feb 22]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-study-of-the-psychological-affects-of-video-games-on-children-and-young-adults/
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