The affects of violent video games on children

21 Oct

“A single exposure to a violent video game won’t turn someone into a mass murderer, But, if someone has repeatedly exposed themselves, these kinds of effects in the short term can turn into long-term changes.” – Dr. Bruce Bartholow, associate professor of psychology at the University of Missouri.


Kids Arcade

Studies of children exposed to violence have shown that they can become: “immune” or numb to the horror of violence, imitate the violence they see, and show more aggressive behaviour with greater exposure to violence. Some children accept violence as a way to handle problems. Studies have also shown that the more realistic and repeated the exposure to violence, the greater the impact on children. In addition, children with emotional, behavioural and learning problems may be more influenced by violent images.

Children and adolescents can become overly involved and even obsessed with video games. Spending large amounts of time playing these games can create problems and lead to:

  • poor social skills
  • time away from family time, school-work, and other hobbies
  • lower grades and reading less
  • exercising less, and becoming overweight
  • aggressive thoughts and behaviours

All of these factors influence anti social and criminal behaviour amongst children, it’s evident.

The data below, was compiled by the American Life Project last year showing the percentages of children and what games they play.

graph showing percentages of video game use among American teenagers

A staggering 2/3’s of children play violent video games. Roughly 4% of children react negatively after violent video games which maybe a small percentage, it’s a huge amount of violent kids causing havoc. It’s these 4% of children that started this whole controversy and vast amount of studies in relation to violent video games and children.


Personality. Two psychologists, Dr. Patrick Markey of Villanova University and Dr. Charlotte Markey of Rutgers University, have presented evidence that some children may become more aggressive as a result of watching and playing violent video games, but that most are not affected. After reviewing the research, they concluded that the combination of three personality traits might be most likely to make an individual act and think aggressively after playing a violent video game. The three traits they identified were high neuroticism (prone to anger and depression, highly emotional, and easily upset), disagreeableness (cold, indifferent to other people), and low levels of conscientiousness (prone to acting without thinking, failing to deliver on promises, breaking rules).

Situation. Dr. Cheryl Olson, cofounder of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Mental Health and Media, led a study of 1,254 students in public schools (most were ages 12 to 14) in South Carolina and Pennsylvania. The researchers found that certain situations increased exposure to violent video games — such as locating game consoles and computers in children’s bedrooms, and allowing older siblings to share games with younger ones. In this study, children who played video games often with older siblings were twice as likely as other children to play mature-rated games (considered suitable for ages 17 and older).

Motivation. In a three-year study, a team led by Dr. Mizuko Ito, a cultural anthropologist at the University of California, Irvine, both interviewed and observed the online behavior of 800 youths. The researchers concluded that video game play and other online activities have become so ubiquitous among young people that they have altered how young people socialize and learn.

Although adults tend to view video games as isolating and antisocial, other studies found that most young respondents described the games as fun, exciting, something to counter boredom, and something to do with friends. For many youths, violent content is not the main draw. Boys in particular are motivated to play video games in order to compete and win. Seen in this context, use of violent video games may be similar to the type of rough-housing play that boys engage in as part of normal development. Video games offer one more outlet for the competition for status or to establish a pecking order.

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