Violent Video Games
Video games always provide a great pass time activity for children. These games are so many and so addictive that when a child is not controlled, he can spend all his time playing the games. The game a child plays can be a good or a bad thing in his life. For example, children who learn how to play chess at a tender age usually show signs of high levels of intellect. However, the same case does not apply for violent video games.
The effects of violent video games are as varied as the number of the games. One effect that is common with all of them is their addiction. This can be a terrible thing because a child might not do any productive activity whenever at home. This means that he does not study when at home or even do his assignments. Consequently, his performance at school definitely deteriorates. Moreover, the child could sacrifice development of his talent such as attending a music class just for the purpose of playing a violent game.
Another effect that has caused ripples among parents and the society in general is the possible violent behaviour in kids who play such games. Several studies have been conducted to investigate the relationship between such games and violent behaviour in children. Controlled experiments place little emphasis on this relationship. The obtained results show that the negative effects of such games are quite minimal.
There is also an observation regarding these games and their players where children who are naturally aggressive prefer playing this type of games to others. This observation waters down the chances of violent games leading to violent behaviour in children. When interviewed, some kids who play this type of games say that they are not negatively affected by the games. This is definitely backed up by their non violent behaviour.
It has also been observed that violence displayed on television such as in action movies or news has more chances of leading to violence in children that the violent games. However, it is important to note that when a child plays a violent game he is likely to experience some physiological effects. These effects include an increase of both heart rate and brain activity.
In conclusion, it is safe to say that violent games barely lead to violent behaviour in children. However, they are not beneficial to the children because of their addictive nature, which can deter a child’s growth.
When I was a child, I used to spend all day playing outside. I would go for walks, play ball with my friends, go fishing, make mud pies; the list goes on. I do not recall being bored very often during my childhood. On the off chance that the words, “I’m bored.” did happen to come out of my mouth my parents would tell me, “Go outside and play.” Nowadays, children do not hear those words as often as they should. The phrase, “Go outside and play.” has become, “I just bought you a new Playstation and seven new games for your birthday, how can you be bored?” The advancement of technology in video games has brought with it the advancement of unhealthy lifestyles for our children. From obesity to murder, the negative effects of video game play are more dangerous than many may realize.
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), obesity rates for adults have doubled and the rates for children have tripled just since 1980. I admit that we cannot blame this fact on video games alone. However, is it just a coincidence that it was during these same years that the market for video games began to boom? Allowing our children to sit and play video games for hours on end, in my opinion, cannot lead to a healthy lifestyle. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that people should spend at least sixty minutes a day exercising. (American Academy of Pediatrics) As the obesity rates indicate, many children would rather play a video game than climb a tree. It was bad enough when television came out, but now we have another distraction from physical activity, video games. Moreover, not only are children playing but also the adults. Remember the saying, “Lead by example.” and you will notice that if a parent plays video games, more often than not, their children do as well. Being active and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also ‘lead by example’. This is where we as parents need to realize there is a problem, step in, and do something about it.
Influencing a child to exercise is not always easy. This task can turn out to be almost impossible if the child has become addicted to video games. I realize how peculiar that statement sounds, but it is something that does happen. I, myself at one time was addicted to a certain video game. For two years, I spent as much of my free time as I could on playing this game. If I was not playing the game then I was thinking about it, or talking about it. It got to the point where everything I did or said related to this game and even my friends, who played the game with me, started to notice and make comments. I realized then, that my life was going nowhere and I had gained ten pounds. Therefore, I smartened up and went back to college. Unfortunately, many young children and adolescents do not ‘smarten up’ on their own. These children need their parents help and support in order to cure their addiction. According to Child and Youth Health, “Young gamers have shown similar symptoms to people who have drug or alcohol dependence – an inability to stop playing, and withdrawal symptoms (anxiety, agitation) if they go without access to their gaming 'fix'.” (Child and Youth Health) That sounds like an addiction to me. In addition, just like with any other addiction, there are harmful side effects. RSI stands for Repetitive Strain Injury. (Child and Youth Health) This painful condition can occur in the arms and wrists with prolonged, repetitive movements. Luckily, this side effect is not life threatening.
Violence, on the other hand, is life threatening and is an overwhelming theme of many video games. You can even buy game controllers that resemble real guns. Are we seriously sending the message to our children that it is ok to play with guns? The American Psychological Association has conducted studies focused on this very subject. What they found was that playing violent video games did in fact raise violent behavior, feelings, and thoughts. Violence in video games is also more harmful than violence in television because of the interaction found in these games. (American Psychological Association) When playing online shooter games, players ‘hunt’ each other with the intent to kill. There is a definite connection between violence in video games and aggression in children. According to Teen Health, “These effects seem to be stronger in young people who already tend to be aggressive.” In addition, “even taking into account the person's hostility, it is clear that exposure to violent games causes’ increased aggressive behavior.” Video games are making violence look ‘cool’ to children. In these alternate ‘worlds’ violence is not punished, in fact it is rewarded. When a six year old walks up, with gun in hand, and blows someone’s head off they get a pat on the back and a, “Good job!” These games are making it fun for people to kill each other. When you consider the age of some children when they begin to play these games, you have to keep in mind how impressionable these youngsters are. This again falls back on the parents. If you are a parent, you must take responsibility for the types of games your children play. We cannot expect the companies who create such games to look out for our children’s well being. They are in it for the money, not to benefit humanity. Take for instance this list of game titles; Resident Evil 4, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and God of War. These three game titles are very popular in the gaming community. They also hold the top three spots on the most violent games list. (Sinclair) With our children exposed to so much violence how can we be surprised with the amount of violence in society? Let us give our kids guns to play with and then wonder why little Bobby was shot in the middle of homeroom this morning.
Video games have ratings, just as movies and music albums do. Before purchasing, be sure to find out what rating the video game has and that it is appropriate for your child’s age group. Also, try to limit the time you allow your child to play. As we have seen, video games can affect children in some very negative ways. However, parents can avoid these issues by monitoring what games their children are playing and how long they play them.