The Impact of Video Games on the Development of Violent and Aggressive Behavior
In modern societies, children and adolescents spend their free time on consuming media rather than schooling. The issue of whether playing video games can cause the development of aggressive and violent conduct for children, teenagers, as well as adults raises concerns of scholars and researchers. The question has been debated in numerous media sources and social communities since the introduction of such games to the public. Violence and aggression, showcased by various characters in such games, may lead to the development of violent outbreaks and abnormal behavior in real-life events that users face. Public concerns that video games may increase the level of violence occurrence started after the first commercial spread of the product in the middle of the eighteenth century. The process of playing video games is directly associated with risk conduct of players during the periods of late adolescence and young adulthood, particularly from the age of 18 to 26 years. Playing video games with violent content for one or two times might not result in aggression; however, the process of the constant use of such media may foster the development of aggression and violence in players. The analysis of the study shows that violent video games lead to addiction, low level of empathy, and substantial behavior problems, including, hostile expectations, aggression, as well as violence. As a result, parents should take effective steps to help their children cope with the problem.
Overview of Video Games
Since its introduction to the public, video games have substantially changed as they have turned from educational to entertaining ones that provoke violence among their users. Video games have been known to people for nearly fifty years. In the 1960s, early computer games were designed as text-based strategy games, which were most commonly related to computer science programs at major universities. Initially, the industry promoted those video games that were arcade-based. The first video game consoles developed to be played at homes emerged in the mid-1970s. Their appearance in the national and international markets resulted in the decline of the popularity of arcade-based plays. One of such games entitled Spacewar of 1962 involved the battle of two spaceships. The winner was the party that killed the other ship in space. In comparison with contemporary games, the graphics of firstly designed plays were simple. Despite this fact, the idea of fighting to the death of the last participant is one that has been promoted for at least five decades. As a result, violence in games evolved from minor and major as presented in the modern gaming industry.
In the twenty-first century, the advances in computer technologies have increased the capabilities of gaming consoles by providing more realistic and sophisticated features and elements than previously. Significant improvements in processor speed, sounds, as well as graphics, promoted the development of the new generation of media, which resulted in an ever-increasing demand for playing new games. Moreover, the illustration of social interactions, including cruel conversations and phrases, has substantially changed not only by becoming more realistic but also sounding more hostile. Nowadays, more than 89% of all games in the national and international market contain elements of violence while nearly a half of them include a form of serious violence that takes place against another character. According to Dave Larsen, in 2012, five of the ten best-selling video games, which featured violent content, included Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Halo 4, Assassin's Creed III, as well as Borderlands 2. These plays substantially attract the attention of consumers by making them purchase such media online or in special shops. As a result, the expenditure on playing is surprising. For example, in 2011, people spent more than $24.7 billion on DVD and Internet video games and hardware while the sales of video game software accounted for $8.8 billion while computer game sales comprised over $450 million. The evidence shows that people are ready to spend large sums of money only to obtain a game that promotes violence. The situation worries society as the constant process of playing such games may lead to addiction.
Addiction to Playing
The use of both DVD and Internet video games may cause a high level of addiction among its consumers, especially children and teenagers. Playing video games can lead to numerous changes, including psychological, physiological, as well as cognitive alternations. In modern society, up to 99% of both young and adult males, as well as nearly 94% of females constantly play or have at least once played such games in their lives. Playing is heaviest in the group of individuals who are from eleven to fourteen years old with males outplaying females. The U.S. children who are from eight to eighteen years play an average of eight hours of video games per week, which is approximately 400% higher than it was in 1999. The increase in the level emphasizes the fact that people use games to spend their free time on playing rather than going outside. The characteristics that draw attention of consumers on the product include audio accompaniment, the change of scenes, as well as a high number of movements. Modern games are action-oriented, an aspect that helps the video game industry to promote violence in a more efficient way. The justification of violence and aggression, as well as their depiction in a glamor way, make players identify themselves with disobedient characters who manages to kill everybody. These features increase the interest of both children and teenagers by making them spend more time on playing. They also make consumers play more and more by rewarding violent actions. Another fact that makes people become addicted to video games is that they provide the opportunity to connect with other gamers via the Internet, which allow interacting with each other through a game. Such media connect millions of individuals across the whole world by making players spend countless hours looking at screens and killing a bunch of pixels. As a result, the American population becomes more and more addicted to gaming.
Low Level of Empathy
The exposure to a video game significantly correlates with decreased empathy. Gamers tend to feel enjoyment from the suffering and pain that others individuals experience. Lavinia McLean and Mark and Griffiths prove this in their experimental survey of 320 members regarding the short-term impact of playing violent video games on the readiness to provide assistance to those persons who needed it. The participants were divided into two teams: those who played a violent game and those ones who were exposed to a non-violent game. The study revealed that those members, who played a violent video game, needed much longer time to respond to the accident that required helping others than the representatives of the other team as they pretended no to hear the event or did not consider it serious. The survey shows that, in most cases, those players who are exposed to violence in games ignore the request for help of others. As a result, video games may reduce the readiness to help in other people and decrease their level of empathy.
The content of both DVD and Internet video games may provoke the development of abnormal conduct of players especially during the period of childhood or adolescence. The primary concern concerning a violent video game is the fear about the kind of behavior the consumers might assume as a result of their exposure to such media. The illustration of force and violence as justified, as well as the promotion of identification with aggressive characters, might substantially affect the players perception the purpose of the game. The influence may also be detrimental if consumers perceive games as realistic ones. Individuals, who are affected by these features, report their addiction to alcohol and drug consumption, as well as having poor relations with friends and family members, or even having a low level of self-worth. Therefore, the use of video games serves as a risk factor for adolescence and adulthood, a period when individuals form their personal identities. As a result, such aspects provoke the development of abnormal behavior, which might later turn into aggression and violent attitudes towards other people.
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Link between Violence and Video Games
The excessive exposure to violent media may be a direct linked to the development of aggression during childhood and adolescence. Overplaying can force young gamers to behave violently while the repetitive procedure of killing trains them to play aggressively. Most video games released to the public involve just a process of killing other people. If players do not kill they become losers. On the contrary, if they kill more and more characters, they become winners and proceed to the next level where the scope of violence and cruelty is much higher than in previous levels. These aspects make both children and adolescents who play video games subconsciously become violent themselves.
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The time of being exposed to violent content of games directly correlates with the level of hostile expectations. Playing such games for one or two times will not develop aggression in their users. In the worst cases, such exposure can provoke hostile expectations and mildly aggressive conduct. Meanwhile, those individuals who develop a gaming habit over a period of one or two years can become much more aggressive than the ones who are not addicted to playing. In their survey of seventy French university students, half of whom were females, Hasan et al. revealed that both aggressive conduct and hostile expectations significantly enhanced on subsequent days for violent video game players rather than non-violent gamers. The evidence shows that, repeated exposure to media that contains violent features for several days, weeks, as well as years, can increase the risk of hostile expectations for gamers. The constant use of violent content may enhance the probability of the occurrence of hostile thoughts and lead to the desensitization of violence. Such a situation might later result in aggressive attitudes towards other people in real life.
Being exposed to violent media, a person faces associations that include aggressive behavior and feels obligatory to complete aggressive acts to become as hostile as other characters of the games. Scholars have proved that there is a direct relation between the time of game playing and the level of aggression. In their short documentary, PBC NewsHour emphasizes the fact that playing a violent video game can directly increase aggressive conduct and even makes gamers focus on the suffering and pain of other individuals. The process of playing such violent games as Gears of War: Ultimate Edition, Battlefield 3, Call of Duty, Mortal Kombat X, and Resident Evil: The Definitive Edition provokes aggression in gamers. The visual upgrades, which intensify the reality of violent moments filled with blood and pain, attract the attention of both children and teenagers. Although there are also games that offer following non-violent way by arresting criminals instead of killing them like in Battlefield: Hardline, players tend to choose a violent route by killing everybody they seen on their computer screens. For example, in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, games have the opportunity to select non-violent methods to conquer opponents, most players tend to choose explosives, firearms, as well as knives. Another issue that can foster the development of hostility is that the game involves references to rape and use derogatory language towards women. The fact means that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain discriminates the opposite gender and promotes hostility towards females. As a result, the exposure of individuals to the violent content of video games contributes to the development of violent behavior in players: the more they play, the more aggressive they are in real lives.
Besides increasing aggressive conduct, playing violent games may also provoke aggressive thoughts, emotions, as well as feelings. A play usually makes people feel more hostile and anxious than they previously were. The evidence emphasizes the fact that playing such games can also result in the development of the aggressive perception of the surrounding world. Furthermore, after playing violent games, gamers list more cruel ideas and interpret ambiguous tales in a much more hostile way than before being exposed to such media. It means that the constant usage of violent media can make an individual perceive the majority of real-life cases in a more hostile manner. As a result, such activities cause the development of aggressive personalities.
There are people who disagree with the statement that video games can trigger hostility and violence in players by stating that such media provides the opportunity for millions of individuals around the whole to keep connections with each other like such social media as Facebook or Twitter does. They argue that social interaction through Internet games connect them with other players with whom they share similar interests. Although that there are video games that involve different participants, they cannot increases in the pro-social behavior of players in the short and long term. The process of playing games cannot be compared with real life conversations with real people. The replacement of social communication by video games can have a significant impact on the development of identity.
The problem regarding the development of violent and aggressive behavior in individuals who play video games with violent content requires the implementation of an effective solution. Both players, including children and teenagers, as well as their parents should take steps aimed at eliminating the exposure to such media. In most cases, parents do not pay any attention to the amount of time their children play games or the content of such entertaining programs. For example, more than 89% of teenagers admit that neither their mothers nor their fathers put ban them playing games. As parents do not limit the time that their children can spend in front of their computers, such players are more likely to show aggression in real life towards other people. Another reason for such a situation is that a high percentage of plays can be downloaded for free from the Internet. As a result, parents should understand the scope of dangers posed by violent video games and control the time their children spend on game playing. Teaching a child how to self-regulate what he or she watches and hears in the media is essential to his or her development in the world filled with media. First, parents should educate their children about the possible impact of media on the psychology and physiology of people. Second, they should also help children to limit the time devoted to playing video games. Third, it is advisable to encourage the use of educational and pro-social video games rather than the ones that contain violence, blood, as well as death. Parents must also play video games with their children so that they will be aware of their content. Instead of playing games, caregivers should encourage youngsters to play outside or read books. These steps might help players cope with their addiction to games and avoid the dangers posed by violent content of such media. Limiting the use of violent video games may have significant positive effects for both children and youngsters.
Taking into consideration the findings of the study, one may conclude that violent video games have an adverse impact on gamers by leading to addiction and low level of empathy, as well as causing substantial behavior problems. As video games evolve every year, the industry fills them with realistic graphics, scenarios, and even sound effects. Aside from improving the visual elements of such games, the gaming industry also elaborates on the amount of cruelty and violence. As a result, the content of such games may result in hostile expectations, aggression, and violence. Players tend to behave aggressively in a real world environment while facing different problems. Individuals, who play violent video games, are more likely to engage in a hostile environment than those who pay non-violent games. Therefore, parents should take steps aimed at reducing the negative impact of such media o their children.