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The Effect of Video Games on Violence in Youth

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In this essay we will be discussing the use of video game violence and how this type of media shapes and effects the younger generation. We will be evaluating main topics such as the psychological aspects, wellbeing and examples of crimes or events which have occurred in the past. Aggression is seen as part of an emotional characteristic which is shown when a person is under stress, we will be reviewing how behaviour can be learnt and the effects on how video games could be encouraging violence in the younger people.

Video games have been around for a few generations, in October 1958, ‘Physicist William Higinbotham created what is thought to be the first video game’ a game similar to the video game Pong released in the 1970s. Society has come a long way since then, video games have introduced more media to the consumer over the years with newer ways to immerse the player to have new experience, we now have Virtual reality where users can put themselves inside the game, it comes with surround sound to make it as realistic as possible which gives the user the illusion they are inside the game. This for younger generations could cause problems as children may struggle to tell the difference between reality and virtual reality.

From games like grand theft auto to where you shoot, stab, attack the public with weapons to the more innocent games like Pokémon. They are both violent in their own ways and encourage the behaviour for all players. Do children realise what they are looking at and does it affect their state of mind. Does losing in video games make them more agitated and violent. Do playing these games for hours on end affect their developing minds? Has video game violence played a part in mass shootings or other horrendous crimes we have witnessed over the years? We will be discussing these topics throughout this essay.

A much-debated question is why younger do child have access to violent video games. We see that alcohol and cigarettes are restricted to children but we also see on every video game an age restriction and legally shops cannot sell you certain games unless you prove you are the correct age, unless a parent has given consent to this then an underage child could get the game. This suggests that parents have a bigger part in this as they allow their children to take part in violent video games even if they have no information on what the game is about thus allowing children to witness events. This suggests this could affect a developing mind from a young age, Children will find it hard to tell the difference between real life and video games. We cannot fully blame the impact on violent video games on children, parents and guardians are also at fault also.

Mass shootings are becoming a major problem in America and the particular concern causing these events could potentially be linked to violent video games. Some debates suggest there is a correlation between violent video games and mass shootings in male audiences with a history of playing violent video games. Some examples given are Springfield, Oregon (May 1998), Oakland California (January 2003). The shooters in these mass shootings have had a history of playing violent videos games and the video games that they tend to be playing are shooting and killing other players which could suggest this has led them down the path of their crimes. As we can see violent video games can cause aggression, some examples of negative effects caused by violent video games include; it can reduce empathy, players have shown reduced or no empathy at certain events that should have triggered empathy towards other humans. It also causes players to not be affected as much by gore, most games you get rewarded for gore like the more damage you have done to a player the better score you will get, which could suggest why some mass shooters have shown no remorse for their actions.

Another example is it does not give children or young adults a proper role model, we see that role models play a big role in people’s lives which have helped them to change themselves for the better. If the youth are growing up being on a screen all the time looking at a fake character made of pixels, they may think of that as their role model and in some cases this role model could be a thug who murders in the game. This could be the cause of why some children have grown onto doing horrific crimes and why they are dehumanised from society.

But despite this, it does not give enough evidence to prove a direct correlation between violence in video games and mass shootings or other horrific crimes committed by youths, as we look further into this, we see that this system has a number of serious drawbacks, a large sum of mass shooters tends to be male and males are more commonly the ones to play video games which suggests that a large sum of people who have played violent video games have never gone onto committing a crime.

It is also well known that males especially in America are known to be most likely the ones to suffer or be affected by a mental illness, whether it is depression or anxiety, this as well as easy access to firearms should also be taken in consideration, we know that most horrific crimes committed by children or young adults have had some sort of mental issue and/or have had an abusive childhood which has contributed to them becoming dehumanised which has then led to their actions. In addition, the youth can play out their inner thoughts on violent videos games and it could encourage them to their horrific crimes but it is important to ask how have they had these ideas and is it learnt behaviour from parents?

As discussed above mass shootings have become more and more in America and violent video games are being the target of the blame. But we cannot single out video games for the cause of American shootings. As video games are played worldwide, we only see America is having the more reoccurring mass shootings which suggest what to blame is the American system and its gun laws as suggested by Simon. I. R. The following is a brief description of addiction, aggression and links to violent video games. We can see that video games can start as a habit and then be followed by an addiction and when we think of addiction, we think of the cause of the addiction (video game) to be taken away or cut off which leads to people becoming restless or even violent because of it. This can be started at a young age especially now as we are the generation to be always glued to a screen even young kids under 4 will have grown up with screens. This can distort a child’s way of learning and it can also develop later on in life as a serious addiction. It can also lead to physical health issues such as bad back, aches and pains and even mental health issues such as depression.

In terms of the gaming world, Video games do encourage violence. They want players to kill other players and some are very graphic. The evidence provided suggested that violent video games do contribute to higher aggression. The evidence presented thus far supports the idea that those who played the violent games gave more aggressive answers to the experiment questions. This suggests violence in video games does influence the thoughts of the players and if the players are young then it may also affect them differently with not knowing how to process these thoughts. There was also the same experiment done but with none violent game like racing games which also showed an increase in aggression with the players, this suggests while video games do make players more aggressive It does not make the players violent.

We can see that some people use violent games as a stress relief and some use it knowing the difference between real life and virtual reality. Children have given their thoughts on video games saying it has helped them cope with bullying, it helps them relax and it’s fun to compete in a made-up world. Which suggests that children do see it as virtual reality and they understand what they see is not real. It also again helps those who suffer from mental illness as it makes them not feel alone and that they can join in with other players. As children from an early age grow up with violence everyday i.e. the news, children stories, songs and even in education we teach our children shake spear with thoughts of it making our children intelligent when it has a reoccurring theme of violence. Children from an early age will pretend to sword fight or shoot guns with each other. Thus, we cannot solely single out video games as the culprit for encouraging violence.

Violence is a very common theme than we think but it helps children to understand what is safe and what is not safe. A child who has not been around any sort of violence will have no idea of what danger could be around than a child who knows what is dangerous and what is violent. Although it has been suggested that video games have been popular among young school shooters this however cannot be considered as video games are popular among most children especially males and it does not give the correct evidence to prove that video games are the cause or influence of shootings.

The most obvious finding to emerge from this study is that there is no evidence to prove that violent video games make our youth violent. Whilst there is evidence to suggest that video games can make players more aggressive, less empathic and immune to gore. This does not suggest that they will be violent and as we are shown violence in our everyday life as we mentioned before that songs, stories and even education introduces us to violence we cannot solely blame violent video games on the small percent of offenders that have played video games and have gone onto doing horrific crimes. There is also evidence to suggest that violent video games help players to cope, relax and destress while playing in a world with no consequences. As we discussed previously, some children have said that they knew the difference between reality and virtual reality. Another important area to look at is only America is seeing a rise in mass shootings and as discussed, we see that video games are played world-wide and it is only America seeing this on the up rise and it is to be believed that gun control and mental health are a bigger issue in this than we believe.

More over greater efforts are needed to ensure that violent video games are not easily accessible to children and that parents should really have some kind of knowledge or research into the game before going to purchase it for their children. Moreover, we could always look into the censorship of these games, for example China has censored gore in certain games and some countries have even banned games known for violence, for example GTA is banned in China, Mexico etc. After reviewing multiple sources on how violence in video games effects the youth, we can see that it can have an impact on the young developing minds. Some countries are aware of this as we can see and have taken action by banning them within region or by having the developers produce a censored or alternate copy of the game.

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The Effect Of Video Games On Violence In Youth. (2020, December 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 9, 2021, from
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