Are Video Games Truly Harmful to Children?


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Basically every male child (and some female) at one point in his life sits in front and turns on that violent video game every mother does not want to see them playing. The question is, do these video games, as many people suggest, really make children more violent in real life?

According to the APA it can depend on many factors. For one violent behavior is learned, it is not a characteristic one in born with and therefore it is learned early in life. If a child plays these games young enough it could potentially be harming. To learn this behavior children watch those around them, including what they see on television or in these games. Part of the reason the Electronic Software Rating Board rates video games according to violence and the age to be played at is to warn families of the violence and suggest appropriate ages to be played in which children will not be negatively affected. 

The general public tend to be those individuals that view the games as harmful, but on the other hand in more recent years psychologists are finding there may not be a correlation between these video games and aggression. Dr Christopher J Ferguson of Texas A&M University found that many studies on aggression and media rely on measures that are not comparable to real world aggression. Also, many people just see someone violent and then know they play video games, automatically attributing the violence to the games, but pure observational behavior does not prove cause and effect. Dr Ferguson searched criminal data basis and found that crime rate has dropped since 1996 in youths, even as video games have increased. 

More research is beginning to be done to find definite results by the US Department of Justice funding research at the Center for Health and Media in Massachusetts. It is being found currently that for these video games to have an affect on children, these children must have three personality traits; high neuroticism (highly emotional), disagreeableness, and low levels of conscientiousness. Not having to do with aggression, but with social interaction, it has been found that excessive video games use can inhibit children's ability to socialize with others. 

There are measures that can be taken by parents if they feel their child is vulnerable to influence by the games. These measures include just checking the ratings,  play video games with the children, place the video game consoles in general areas of the home (not in their bedrooms), do not let children play for too much time, and push children to join activities outside of the house such as sports. 



3 Comments

This topic is very complicated primarily because of the differences in personality traits. For example, before interacting with the media, we bring established personality traits. Then, we have to account for the fact that we all have slightly different experiences in-game (ex. the person who is really good at playing vs. the beginner). This will lead to each individual taking in a unique experience. Finally, the response of the person is also dependent on there personality traits. One thing that is established, however, is that playing violent video games does make us more aggressive in the short term, however, most of the time it passes. Here is an interesting article I found which addresses this issue.
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/science/studying-the-effects-of-playing-violent-video-games.html?_r=0

This is very interesting. I for one do not want my children playing any video games. The problem with this technology is that kids aren't learning about what is reality and the beauty of nature. It depends on the game really, and how realistic it is, but I think that most of them do not characterize what is real life, and children are learning violence at too young of an age.I found this article with many statistics relating violence to video games. http://videogames.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=003627

In my IST class we spent a good two or three class periods going over this topic. Like William said this is a very controversial topic. Some people may believe that yes, games like halo and call of duty do increase a childs tendency to be violent. But then there are other people like myself that think that violent video games could be harmful but i truly believe that the violence of a child comes from the environments that they grow up in. This article explains a lot about the controversy. http://www.video-game-addiction.org/violence.html I also think that now a days, video games are all that young kids do for enjoyment. When I was a kid, playing outside in the dirt or climbing trees was my favorite past time. Today though you will never find kids playing outside rather, they will most likely be inside play call of duty, or GTA! I agree with Gabrielle's statement that kids are learning violence way too early in life.

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