Violent video games cause aggression

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For quite some time now, there has been a heated debate regarding to whether video games that are violent in nature lead to aggression or aggressive behavior, especially among the younger generation. This is a matter of concern keeping in mind the various ways in which, technology has come on board to affect the behavior of children and video games fall at the centre of it all. Researchers have been focusing on finding out whether or not video games might be a cause of criminal activity. However, there has been very limited research pointing to the truth of the matter, which triggers the need to research further towards that end (Casey). There are still many factors signifying the close link between the video games and aggression. According to Casey, video games alone may not be sufficient to explain aggression but rather the accumulation as of such risk factors as antisocial behavior as well as depression, the trouble experienced at homes, and delinquency as well as academic problems. It is difficult for just a single factor to lead to violence following the playing of violent video games. This therefore lays a solid basis for researchers to conduct their research from the perspective of the effects of video games on people who are already at risk of aggression or violence. Casey continues to indicate that the percentage of children representing children who play these video games stands at 90% and that 85% of those videos at their disposal mostly comprise of violent content (American Psychological Association). As such, the American Psychological Association has advocated that the players in the industry design games in which there are enhanced forms of parental control towards the level of violence in the video games (American Psychological Association). As some scholars may strive to refute any ideas that indicate the relation between violent video games and aggression, this paper seeks to examine both sides of the coin before coming to an informed conclusion on the same. Against all odds, this paper will strive to prove that violent video games cause aggression in spite of claims by some scholars that aim at proving otherwise.

However, numerous scholars and researchers hold on to the view that indeed violent video games do not cause aggression and they have a number of reasons to support their claims. According to Bingham, playing violent video games has no higher chance of damaging the children’s behavior when compared to the “harmless” games. The argument in this case is that the major factor that leads to change in behavior is the length of time that children spend playing the video games as opposed to their content. Researchers have discovered that the children who engage in playing play the video games roughly above 3 hours, are more likely to get involved in fights and be disinterested in school as well and on the contrary, those who spent less time playing video games, probably less than an hour a day would be linked to positive behavior (Griffiths). There does not entail a significant difference between performance of those who play violent video games and those who do not and hence, dismissing the link that exits regarding to video games and the negative behavior associated with them (Griffiths). It is therefore no longer about the type of game that the children engage in but rather for how long they play the video games. Scholars have also lacked significant evidence that insinuates a clear link existing when it comes to playing of video games and aggressive mannerisms. It is unclear what type of behavior each type of video game would to and as such, some scholars may not agree with the argument that the games would directly behavior or emotional wellbeing in any way.

Another robust argument that surfaces once there is a mention of violent video games causing aggression is whether the child plays alone or with friends. Research has shown that the aspect of children playing the video games together may lead to a cooperative and competitive element (Griffiths). Such children are high unlikely to exhibit any form of aggression towards their peers or emotional problems resulting from the same. They would also be less unlikely to engage in fights irrespective of the nature of the video games that they play. Essentially, it is clear that as time progresses, the violent video games offer greater opportunities for players to play together either in the same room or online. (Griffiths).  However, it is also challenging to determine the effect of the video games based on whether they play alone or with others. This is because some of the people who play alone may also involve themselves in playing the video games with others given the opportunity (Management Association and Information Resources 727). There are also significant differences on the willingness to either engage in social or solitary video games based on factors such as gender that brought about lots of disparities. There is also inadequate evidence on whether children would prioritize their video games over their friends. This further implies that it is difficult to link violent video games to antisocial behavior amongst the players. In fact, researchers have found out that video game players actually scored much higher in areas such as openness, extroversion and conscientiousness (Management Association and Information Resources 727). Moreover, some researchers have indicated that the notion that people who play violent video games derive motivation from pseudo-aggressive drives is untrue claiming that the players lay further emphasis on social interaction and especially with people of similar interest (Management Association and Information Resources 727).

According to Vincent, in yet another piece of evidence also strives to dismiss claims of violent video games causing aggression because the previous methods used to prove that violent video games actually caused aggression were not efficient. The article also provides new evidence by introducing a new research method that the author thinks is more efficient than those used in the past. Vincent states that the prior research methods that involved filling in letters of words as well as delivering nonpainful noise bursts towards rather an opponent who was consenting, were inappropriate and unreliable. The results from the studies also faced a wide array of limitations that may have rendered the findings inaccurate. There was also limited amount of time spent on making the observations and hence the researchers may have missed some important findings. The author uses a study in which there is data from the Entertainment Software ratings Board (ESRB) for the period ranging from 1996 to 2011 so that he could gauge violent content manifested in popular games (Vincent). There is also data on youth violence over the same period. The major aim was to derive a relation existing between experienced youth violence and associated popularity regarding to violent games over the years. It was observed that between 1996 and 2011, there was a massive drop in the level of youth violence (Vincent). Conversely, during this period, violent video games gained much popularity than ever. As such, the fact that the rate of youth violence went down and the popularity regarding to video games that were violent in nature went up is a huge indicator of the fact that violent video games are not to blame for any aggression.

According to Stein, Patrick and Charlotte, in a study they engaged in, there was proof that video games that are violent have no pure association with aggression unless when the person involved possesses certain personality traits. This is similar to the claim that someone has to have a certain set of characteristics in order to act in an aggressive. As such, it is incorrect to claim that such kind of behavior results from their involvement in playing the violent video games. On the contrary, it makes more sense to imply that people with aggressive character traits are at a higher risk of being affected by t video games that comprise of violent content. Markey’s study involved a comparison of 30 years of FBI crime statistics and the manner in which they related to violent video game releases. Just like most scholars or researchers would look forward to, Markey expected that the rate of crime and especially among the teenagers and youth (who are people that violent video games the most) would rise as they industry released more violent video games (Management Association and Information Resources 727). On the contrary, it happened the exact opposite as the associate professor Markey and his wife noticed a decrease in the rate of crime instead. Drawing insight from other research, Markey discovered that before school shootings, the shooters already described themselves as having aggressive behavior such as anger and hate (Stein). Therefore, it was then evident that people possessing the combination a variant of specified negative traits were the most probable to be affected by the violent video games. Consequently, this nullifies claims of violent video games causing aggression since the only people that they are able to affect are those who already exhibit aggressive behavior before playing the games.

In spite of the numerous arguments that violent video games do not aggression, there is still sufficient evidence indicating that violent video games actually cause aggression. Resulting from a recent national study, that entails some connection between violent media and aggressive behaviors amongst children (Grabmeier). Within this study, 66% researchers as well as 90% pediatricians and an estimated 67% participants who were parents acknowledged that  violent games culminated to aggression (Grabmeier). The overwhelming agreement between the parents, researchers and pediatricians is solid evidence that there is aggression resulting from violent video games unlike other studies that failed to signify enough agreement on the matter. Among the researchers, it was the case that 66 percent agreed rather strongly while on the side, 17% rather disagreed and the rest were not fully decided on the matter (Grabmeier). For researchers to have such a high level of agreement on such an issue, then it is clear that such claims may only be valid without much controversy. From the findings, therefore, the researchers discovered that there entailed a direct relation between playing of the video games that were rather violent and resulting aggressiveness.

It is clear that violent games especially those in video form; impart violence amongst youths as it displays it as the best approach towards resolving conflicts thus going further to make it seem acceptable within the society, which is actually against the law. Furthermore, the violent video games imply that violence is an appropriate way of achieving desired goals, which goes on to create a negative approach especially amongst the young generation who are growing to take up responsibility within the society. According to Gladwin, there involved 60% males from middle school males and the 40% of females that engaged in playing a game involving either beat up or hit up a certain person while there entailed 39% males as well as 14% females  that did not engage in the violent games at middle level of schooling (Gladwin). Similarly, a report emanating from Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, it demonstrated the manner in which a shooter was motivated by violent video games that gave him the desire to kill (Gladwin). From this perspective, it is apparent that the video games that are violent in nature may lead to fatal repercussions. Moreover, these games have also led to an increase in bullying in schools. Ideally, in the year 2007, about 32% of students between the age of 12 years and 18 years reported to have been bullied, which is an increase of about 27% percent from the 5% in the year 1999 (Gladwin). Some researchers have also reported that the violent video games led to a desensitization of players to the violence in the real world probable to the culture of rewarding through violence. There has also been evidence suggesting that it has also led to an increase in the violence towards women due to harmful attitudes.
A look into the desensitization emanating from playing violent video games, it is clear that players have desensitization to real violence in the society (Sparks 124). In general, desensitization to violence is referred to as a situation whereby someone displays reduced ability emotion wise when it comes to reacting in instances of real violence. This results from prolonged exposure to violent scenes that may distort the way the players feel about violent acts that they encounter on a day-to-day basis. As such, there is a reduction in the physiological reaction towards real life violence. Similarly, some researchers have claimed players who are desensitized by playing violent video games have a heightened possibility of engaging in violence or rather acts of aggression (Sparks 124). By the time very young players have reached a mature age, they have witnessed a whole lot of murders and violent acts in the violent video games. Studies have therefore shown depicted that there entails a robust link between exposure to perceived video games that are violent and the increase in aggression among the players hence making someone less receptive emotionally to real violence encounters in their lives. This turns out to be quite harmful especially for young players as they grow up and that implies that the violent video games may lead to long lasting detrimental effects on the children hence affecting how they grow up mentally as well (Gladwin). Past researchers have proven that violent video games are responsible for triggering aggressive thoughts and aggressive behavior. A study designed to measure this indicated lower heart rates as well as lower skin response measurements among those playing the games compared t those who do not.

In a similar fashion to the issue of desensitization of players, it is also vital to show the relation between lower empathy and playing of violent video games (Gladwin). Empathy implies being in a position to fathom and share the feelings of another person. A test designed to measure the reduction in empathy was done by showing photographs of an injured person to both the people who  played the violent games as pitted against those who engaged in non-violent video games. The players were also made to understand the context under which the victim got injured. The aim was to find out the average score for each group out of a total score of 10 (Gladwin). This was after playing their respective games for about half an hour, which was enough time for the players to get engrossed in their games. To further show, the effect associated with video games that are rather violent there entailed a case whereby a victim in the photographs ho was a girl who had been a abused by her boyfriend who frequently engaged in the violent games (Gladwin). Those who had played violent video games scored about 4.3 out of 10 (Gladwin). However, those who had played non-violent games had relatively higher scores and thus this study is prove of the fact that violent video games reduce and hence cause aggression as well. Violent video games have also been found to have a huge toll on the behavior of players by largely affecting prosocial behavior amongst them. In addition, children who are constantly at the exposure such games may depict lower moral reasoning skills when compared to other children at their age who do not play the violent video games.

Violent video games have come up with very sophisticated controllers that make it quite easy for players to simulate violence. The controllers have come into play to make the violent video games seem very realistic which is in itself quite risky. As such, there has been evidence that the level at which the controllers are realistic may also lead to an increase in cognitive aggression (Young and Whitty 152). As such, some shooters have claimed to have gained the ideas to take part in the violent acts from the violent video games that they played. Additionally, different video games come about with the use of different weapons and different violent methods that do not only include shooting. Thus, the players may learn to use weapons that are at their disposal such as knives. At the instance of confrontation from peers coupled up with the aggression that builds with playing the violent video games, the player may harm their friends. Referring to the earlier discussion pointing towards the desensitization as a result of playing the games, the players may harm their friends and not take it to be such a huge concern to them (Young and Whitty 151). This way, the society is becoming a much riskier place for people as most of the players of the video games are at a very early age where they are capable of learning and keeping those lessons as they grow into people that the society will depend on in the future (Young and Whitty 151). In addition, the fact that the video games teach the children that it is rewarding to act violently puts the entire society at risk. The players may also be prone to make decisions that incline towards use of violence as a means towards meeting certain goals in their lives.

Playing violent video games may have long lasting damage especially to the thinking of the players. Most of these violent video games allow the players to take the first person and assume the role of the person causing harm to other people. Therefore, from the player’s side, there is active participation in the game as they are the people making all the decisions (Sparks 124). Similarly, the violent video games are designed in a manner in which if the player does not cause destruction or harm in certain way, they are not able to complete the level and hence advance to more “exciting” stages of the game. This way, the video games cause aggression amongst the players as they are more eager to proceed to other levels or simply boast of their prowess amongst their peers. Ideally, the video games consume the thinking of the players and they are deeply engrossed in the game with lots of aggression falling in play as a result. There is also a problem when the players identify with the characters in the games. They may be realistic characters in real life and the fact that the game allows the play to role play as that person may influence them to take such character to real life (Grabmeier). This is where the players lack a clear distinction between fantasy and reality, which may lead them to falling on the wrong side of the law in some cases. Moreover, the players may strive to imitate the actions in the violent video games by acting them up in real life and this makes it far much dangerous for them. From this standpoint, evidence indicating that violent video games do not aggression is null and is not sufficient.

In conclusion, this paper has proven by laying out enough evidence that violent video games cause aggression. However, there are those who have brought forward evidence trying to prove otherwise. For example, some researchers and scholars have claimed that what matters is the amount of time that the players spent on playing the games that may cause aggression (Young and Whitty 151). This point to some extent still implies that those researchers have agreed that extensive exposure regarding to video games that entail violence leads to aggression and hence that point may not mean much against the fact that the games lead to aggression. Another piece of evidence that those researchers have presented is that playing violent video games together would lead to cooperation. However, in the case that the players play together, it is mostly that they are playing against each other and this may cause rivalry and hence lead to aggression as well. The facts indicating that some mass shooters have claimed to have learnt or been influenced by the violent video games, the desensitization of the games towards and simulation of violence is enough evidence on aggression through the games (Young and Whitty 151). As such, most evidence pointing to violent video games not causing aggression are not strong enough to support those claims hence aiding to conclude that in consideration of majority of the relevant factors, violent video games cause aggression.

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  1. American Psychological Association. “APA Review Confirms Link Between Playing Violent Video Games and Aggression.” American Psychological Association, 13, Aug. 2015. Print.
  2. Bingham, John. “Study finds no evidence violent video games make children aggressive.” The Telegraph, 1, April. 2015. Print.
  3. Casey, Michael. “Do violent Video Games Lead to Criminal Behavior?” CBS News, 17, Aug. 2015. Print.
  4. Gladwin, Jocelyn. “Violent Video Games”. Prezi,11, May. 2016. Print.
  5. Grabmeier, Jeff. “‘Broad Consensus’ That Violent Media Increase Child Aggression.” news.osu.edu, 6, Oct. 2014. Print.
  6. Griffiths, Sarah. “Don’t Worry About How Violent Video Games are – It’s the Amount of Time Spent Playing them that’s Damaging, Experts Claim.” Dailymail, 31, March. 2015Print.
  7. Management Association and Information Resources. Violence and Society: Breakthroughs in Research and Practice: Breakthroughs in Research and Practice. Pennsylvania: IGI Global, 2016. Print.
  8. Sparks, Glenn G. Media effects research: A basic overview. Ontario: Nelson Education, 2015. Print.
  9. Stein, Linda. “Villanova Professor: Violent video games don’t cause real life violence in most cases.” The Times Herald, 30, Sep, 2014. Print.
  10. Vincent, James. “Long-term US study finds no links between violent video games and youth violence.” Independent, 10, Nov. 2014. Print.
  11. Young, Garry, and Monica T. Whitty. Transcending taboos: A moral and psychological examination of cyberspace. London: Routledge, 2012. Print.
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