Nowadays, one of the favorite recreational activities for teens is playing video games with their friends. Video game playing is not an issue if it is performed for a limited time; however, when an activity or a hobby becomes addictive, it results in the creation of concern towards it. Similarly, when the teens start playing video games every time, it creates a sense of insecurity in terms of their behavior and future. In the year 1998, one of the faculty members of Simon Fraser University carried out a study on the teens that play video games. The results of that study showed that video games made twenty-five percent of teens addicted to it. Also, all those teens showed significant changes in their behavior, which was not in a positive manner. (Vorderer, pp. 69-72)
Furthermore, several studies (Kirsh, pp. 11-13) have shown that worse academic results are demonstrated by the teens that play violent video games, according to the National Institute on Media and Family. It is indicated by the researches (Kirsh, pp. 17-22) that violent games are preferred by more than seventy-five percent of teens interested in playing video games. One of the Texas schools conducted a study of teens playing video games and found teachers complaining about frequent arguments from the students involved in playing violent video games at home. In some cases, teens were even engaged in physical fights with their teachers and classmates that is a significant concern of the schools, as well as the parents. In specific, studies have shown that gender does not play a vital role in the behavioral changes after playing violent video games, which is another major topic related to the effects of violent video games that will not be discussed in this paper. It was observed that eighty percent of teenage girls that were involved in playing violent video games argued with their teachers and classmates, as compared to eighty-three percent of boys in the same category. So it shows that in such a case, gender does not play any role. (Kirsh, pp. 40-45)
The advent of video games has prompted the researchers to go into the details of this medium of entertainment. In popular media, the topic of violence if quite controversial, as different people have provided various interpretations. For instance, one of the studies (Mattson, pp. 30-35) has indicated that when the development and learning process of an individual is slowed down due to repetition of an inefficient process, it is referred as a violent medium, such as violent video games, popular music, etc. In this paper, we will try to understand different aspects of the effects of violent video games that affect teenagers in different parts of the globe.
Recently, two different types of video games were played by teens for forty minutes. Increased activity and growth in emotional arousal were observed in the teens that played violent video games. On the other hand, teens that played non-violent games showed regular activity of emotional arousal in their bodies. Amygdala is a substance in the body that is considered for the expression of emotional arousal, and the event of such material is increased adversely at times of violence. (Anderson, pp. 13-15) A similar increment was observed when the kids were playing violent video games. Therefore, it has been proved scientifically that violent video games do play a significant role in allowing the aggressive behavior of teens.
To prove the previous results, the Indiana University School of Medicine has carried out a research study to understand the role of violent video games in the creation of aggression and violence in teens. To acquire scientific results, brains of kids that played video games and non-violent games were scanned by the experts at the laboratory. Similar results were indicated by this study, as an increment was observed in the emotional arousal of teens that played violent games with the help of brain scans. Moreover, brain areas used for self-control and self-consciousness showed a reduction in their activity, which showed that teens became more aggressive while playing violent games. (Anderson, pp. 23-25)
Such studies have shown that violent video games create a sense of aggressiveness in teens; however, it is the parents’ responsibility to monitor their kids’ activity while they play video games. The habit of video gaming cannot be restricted by the parents, as it may create a communication gap between the parents and children because of the present trend of video gaming in most of the teenage girls and boys. Most of the researchers and psychologists (Mattson, pp. 56-60) have indicated that adverse effects of violent video games can be reduced if the parents monitor the relationship of brain functions and forceful videogame playing, as they spend the more significant amount of time with their kids, as compared with the classmates, teachers, friends, etc. (Kirsh, pp. 66-67)
In another study, a violent game ‘Medal of Honor’ and a non-violent game ‘Need for Speed’ was selected for acquiring results related to the effects of violent and non-violent games on teens. Forty-six teenage girls and boys were selected by the researchers (Mattson, pp. 63-66), divided into two groups. Random teens were assigned to play any one of the games. After the playing sessions, the brains of all the teens were scanned, and they were provided with a questionnaire. A negative effect on the minds was shown by the scans, as well as the surveys that were filled by the teens that played violent games for an hour. On the other hand, no adverse effect was present in the kids that played non-violent video games. In this study, the violent content of the video games was considered responsible for the negativity of the brain cells of the teens.
As earlier discussed in the paper, parents can play a crucial role in reducing the adverse effects of violent video games by providing their children with alternative means of entertainment and discussions. On the other hand, appropriate video games can be provided to the children according to their ratings. Still, most of the video games do not come with ratings. At this stage, it is the responsibility of parents to do some research and then make a decision to allow specific videogame playing to their kids or not. At times, violent videogame playing cannot create negative effects, and the parents are often allowed to play such games. Intensive video gaming cannot be unconstructive if the parents play a constructive role in their kids’ lives. (Kirsh, pp. 89-91)
Until now, the paper has discussed and analyzed some of the studies that have been carried out for the understanding of the effects of violent video games on teens. It is observed that video games often have a positive impact on the kids, as it is indicated by the researches that the full utilization of video gaming improves manual handiness and computer literacy. A more realistic graphical experience is provided to the teens by the present information technology. (Anderson, pp. 77-80) Lives of several teenagers have become virtually qualitative with the help of the video gaming industry, which is improving every other day. However, it is shown by numerous studies that the aggressive behavior of teens is adversely affected by violent video gaming, which can be ignored by none. In the specific, amount of time that is spent playing video games also affects a lot on the aggressive behavior of teens. In the year 2000 (Mattson, pp. 43-44), it was admitted by the majority of the parents that no time limit was imposed for video gaming by their kids. It was also indicated by the study that the content of the videogames is mostly unknown by the parents, which creates higher chances of aggressiveness and violence in the teens. The study also observed that most of the video games reward their players for violent acts, which creates thinking in teens that tend them to perform similar aggressive actions in their real lives. (Mattson, pp. 44-47)
In this regard, the Institute for Child Psychology has provided a checklist for the parents that observe aggressive behavior in their teen kids that put their time on playing excessive violent video games and watching violent media. In this regard, the parents can identify passionate signs, and adequate steps can be taken to reduce the teens’ aggressiveness. In other words, such teens must get proper counseling from their parents, as well as the schools, as violent video games affect their mental health, and thus, appropriate addressing should be provided to the kids. (Anderson, pp. 32-34)
Nowadays, potential adverse effects have been indicated by several health organizations that have created great concern from the parents. One research (Kirsh, pp. 43-45) has shown that violent video games are designed according to several strategies that include child psychology, which helps the video game companies attract the teens in an addictive manner. According to a child psychologist, teenage girls and boys are likely to get addicted to things that allow or facilitate them to portray and express their skills that are not recognized by others. Video games, especially violent video games, provide a platform for teenagers to express their physical strength that cannot be shown at home or school. (Vorderer, pp. 75-77)
In this regard, parents and schoolteachers must pay proper attention to every teen, and it should be checked that every student should be encouraged and counseled in times of need. It is observed that teenage girls and boys are more likely to get addicted to the violent video games, when they are not provided any other source of energy such as sports, family discussions, co-curricular activities, etc. Nowadays, parents are very busy, and they prefer babysitter to take care of their teen kids, giving time to their business or other activities. It is proved that more than fifty percent of teens do not get proper attention from their parents, which results in their endeavor to locate a new arena to express their inner feelings.
The General Aggression Model (Vorderer, pp. 39-43) is one of the practical methodologies that facilitate the understanding of aggressive behavior from the confrontation of violent media and video games. A teen goes through a developmental process during his videogame playing, and different teens are affected on short-term and long-term bases. In this regard, the impact of violent video games can be reduced by the proper study and understanding of different strategies that can be implemented to eliminate the aggression from a teenage boy or girl. In the year 2004, a study (Kirsh, pp. 57-58) was conducted by a school in which adolescent girls and boys were asked to play violent and non-violent videogames on a random basis. The study selected fifty teenage students that comprised twenty-five boys and twenty-five girls. The students played different violent and non-violent video games for a month, and their behavioral changes were investigated and monitored for the period. It was observed that teenage students that were involved in the playing of the non-violent games showed definite improvements in their mental and physical health. (Kirsh, pp. 59-65)
Also, they showed better academic results and were able to create effective relationships with their teachers and classmates. On the other hand, teenage girls and boys that played violent games showed worse results than their counterparts that played non-violent games. Adolescent students with fierce game playing showed aggressive and violent behavior in their classes and showed worse academic results than their previous academic performances. Furthermore, teachers observed adverse changes in their practice and complained of frequent arguments from such teens. Moreover, parents saw similar behavioral changes in their kids that were playing violent videogames. In this regard, it was proved that violent video games play a vital and crucial role in the creation of aggression and violence in teens adversely. (Mattson, pp. 55-58)
As earlier mentioned in the paper, it isn’t easy to restrict children from video gaming from scratch, as video games have become very much popularized in the present era. However, the negative impact of video games can be reduced by several steps that can be taken to improve the lives of thousands of teens. In this regard, parents’ ratings of video games should be studied, and video game equipment should not be installed in child’s bedroom. (Anderson, pp. 43-44) Moreover, teenagers should be allowed to play video games for a limited period, and parents should monitor media consumption. Violent video games play a crucial role in the negative development of teenagers. Therefore, parents and teachers must play an active role in reducing the negative impact of violent video games. (Vorderer, pp. 69-72) It is hoped that this paper will be beneficial for the students, teachers, experts, and nonprofessionals to understand the subject better.
- Craig Alan Anderson. Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents. Oxford University Press, 2006.
- Mark Paul Mattson. Neurobiology of Aggression. Humana Press. 2003.
- Peter Vorderer. Playing Video Games. Routledge, 2006.
- Steven J. Kirsh. Children, Adolescents, and Media Violence. Sage Publications, 2006.