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Stop Blaming Video Games! According to the American Psychological Association (APA) more than 90% of children in the United States play video games. Among kids between the ages of 12 and 17, the number rises to 97%. More important, 85% or more of video games on the market contain some form of violence. In fact, video games are very popular, connecting millions of people all around the world. As technology gets better, video games are becoming far more realistic and aggressive. One major issue that is being discussed in the world is video game violence and its effect children. Actually, the whole idea of video games causing people to act aggressively is something that is exaggerated by media and there is still no evidence.
People who want to blame video games for IRL violence point to a literature that they believe supplies evidence for a link, but almost none of it does. Much of it shows an association or a link between violent video games and aggressive thoughts or violent imagining in the short term. In 2007, associate professor of Psychology at Stetson University Christopher Ferguson published a meta-analysis of the studies of violence and video games and found significant evidence of publication bias. In other words, a study that shows a link between violence and video games which much more likely to be published than a study that did not. Dr. Ferguson offered a number if suggestions in his paper to strengthen a future research in the area. He studied 103 young adults who were randomized to play no video game, a nonviolent video game, a violent video game where they played the “good guy” and a violent video game where they played the “bad guy”. In other words, they had to engage in some activity which would make it more likely that they would get frustrated and perhaps aggressive. And his study showed no link between playing the games and aggression. In addition, those kids who had a history of playing violent video games in real life had fewer hostile feelings and decreased depression during the frustration test. It is not easy to do good research in this area because so many people video games.
The country of Sweden published their own review of the literature in 2012. They found 161 manuscripts describing 106 unique empirical studies. They found 55 review articles of some sort. Of the 106 empirical studies, 71 were lab studies examining how playing video games affected aggression. Those studies could not measure actual aggression just how people thought, and thoughts lasted from 4 to 30 minutes. They could not and did not measure long-term actual behavior. 23 studies were cross-sectional surveys. Basically, their survey is asking about video game playing and aggressive thoughts. Any links between those things, however, were washed out when other factors like mental state, family relationships and self-esteem were considered as well. The remaining 12 studies were longitudinal in nature or surveys collecting data repeatedly over time. 11 of them purportedly showed a connection between video games and aggression, but only 3 of the 12 had any data on family relationships and mental well-being. And of those three, two of them found that those factors accounted for the relationship. In other words, the Swedes found that the research was flawed and that any connections were not to any actual violent behavior.
On the other hand, some studies claim that violent video games increase violence. For example, in her article published in Slate.com, Amanda Schaffer argues video games are linked to real world violence. She explains that there are three kinds of research link violent video games to increased aggression. By playing violent games, kids are more likely to get into physical fights, argue with teachers, or display anger and hostility. “When video games are not about violence, their capacity to teach can be a good thing.
For patients suffering from arachnophobia, fear of flying, or post-traumatic stress disorder, therapists are beginning to use virtual realities as a desensitization tool.” (Schaffer) Although, violent video games might make children aggressive, the amount of violence is not as great as the ones in television and movies. The news is full of war stories and murder, and nearly every movie contains some form of violence. Another researcher analyzed 136 papers looked at over 130,000 participants and concluded the violent video games not only increase violence, but reduce empathy and reduce pro-social behavior. Yet, something wrong with a large number of the studies in their review. In fact, when studies try to measure the long-term impact of violent games, the data shows weaker and more mixed results.
The point is, researchers can bring up convincing evidence for both sides of the argument and this is a huge problem. It means that can pick a side and produce a theory for why they are right and cherry-pick a couple of studies. It is only by actively arguing the opposite side of the debate that we can get a fuller picture of what is actually going on. Violence is found everywhere throughout the media and in everyday life. And this issue is exaggerated in articles and news. Violent video games bring millions of people around the world entertainment, and social interaction through the internet connecting them with other gamers, who have similar interests.
Allowing interaction through talking and playing the game, there are many people who believe that these violent video games are causing many people to act out violently, recreating what they see or play in these games. If someone is capable of committing extreme violent acts, or acting in an aggressive manor, they were capable of it well before they took part in playing a computer game. It is down to the individual who plays these games to act responsible, know right from wrong, and play the games for entertainment only. Violence is not just in video games, it is everywhere and all around us.
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