Violent Video Games Influence Violent Behavior in Children Essay
Many people still do not believe that violent video games could influence violent behavior in children. They think that video games are just for entertainment and nothing more than that. Even though there are several cases where video games have been blamed or held responsible for violent actions, some people fail to consider the fact that violent video games do influence violent actions.
One perfect example where violent video (Doom) was listed as one of the factors that influenced a violent behavior can be seen in the “Columbine Massacre”, where two young high school students shot and killed twelve students, one teacher, and injured twenty-three others before taking their own lives. “No one can say for sure why Klebold and Harris committed such horrific crime. Many people have come up with theories including being picked on in school , violent video game (Doom), violent movies (Natural Born Killers), music, racism, Goth, problematic parents depression and more” (Rosenberg).
No matter what the case may be, violent video game was listed as one of the factors that may have caused the violent behavior. Children learn in many different ways, it could be through the process called Classical Conditioning: a type of learning in which a stimulus acquires the capacity to evoke a response that was originally evoked by another stimulus. They could learn through Operant Condition: a form of learning in which voluntary responses come to be controlled by their consequences.
Also, learning may occur through Observational Learning: a learning process where an individual responding is influenced by the observation of others who are called models (Weiten). Video games are made of different characters, some of whom are considered protagonists and others antagonists. Children may find these characters exciting and this could lead to a form of identity that the child adapts. They sometimes use nicknames that are used by the different characters in the game.
In the minds of children, a character in the game that is seen as an important figure and more interesting can easily be chosen as a role model. They may copy the looks of the character, his style or the words that are frequently used by the character. Since the media plays a very important role in the development of a child, a child could adapt the qualities of an aggressive character at any moment. A character that finds solution through aggression, shows no mercy, and is almost never punished for behaving aggressively could easily influence violent behaviors in a child (Konijn, Bijvank, and Bushman).
What makes video games more influential in violent behavior is that, violent behavior is not only seen in the game but it is also controlled by the player himself, from his finger tips to his brain. The effects are more harmful in playing than watching. In an experimental study investigating the differential effects on actively playing vs. passively watching the same video game of subsequent aggressive behaviors, fifty-seven children (Aged 10-13) played a violent video game, watched the same violent video game, or played a non-violent video game.
Aggression was measured through peer nominations of real-life aggressive incidents during a free play session at school. After the active participation of actually playing the violent video game, boys behaved more aggressively than did the boys in the passive game condition (Polman, de Castro, and van Aken). Children may not fully understand the difference between what is fictional and what is nonfictional because they are still in a critical stage of learning, which is shaped by experience, consequences, punishment, and reward.
After playing a game or watching a movie, children develop a tendency of applying in real-life what was leant (good or bad) in the game or movie. For example, after playing for the first time a game called “The Return of Superman”, my six year old nephew started to mimic the character called Superman. He really believed that he could fly. He would attach a piece of cloth from his neck down to his back, climb on a chair or table and jump.
There was an instance where he almost jumped from a thirteen oot high staircase but his mother stopped him. So children do have a tendency of applying what they see in games. Like movies, the contents of video games are rated as violent or nonviolent. It is the parent who determines which game is good for his/her child. However, even if the contents of games are rated or the parent decides which game is good, it still doesn’t change the fact that the game is violent and could influence violent behavior.
One writer on Video Games Violence: How Much Is Too Much says, because of the escalating murder rate, “There is a pending law in Venezuela that would prohibit violent video games and toys”. It is a legislation aimed at tackling the out-of-control street violence in the country. Those who are in support of the legislation believe that youngsters who play violent video games at Internet-cafes are transitioning from virtual violence to real violence (Moltenbrey).
When children are exposed to video games where violence in the game is rewarded, they develop an increase hostile emotion, aggressive thinking, and aggressive behavior. If the violence in the game is punished, children will exhibit an increase in emotional hostility but will not show any increase aggressive thinking or aggressive behavior. Also, if the game is a nonviolent game, children will not show any signs of hostility, aggressive thinking or aggressive behavior (Carnagey and Anderson).
I think in the act of playing violent video games, the actions that are executed by the character in the game are decided by the player himself. Depending on how much time the player spend on the game and how much urge the player develops to carry out extreme violence in the game, the player will automatically begin to harbor aggressive thoughts. In this case, if a player had any sort of previous knowledge playing violent video games, he/she will respond with a higher level of aggression whenever he/she encounters confrontation.
When video games were introduced about 30 years ago, the characters in the games were all in black and white and because the technology at the time was not advanced, it was very difficult to create images that are commonly seen in our societies today. As one writer puts it, the reality of virtual games is so improved that the characters are able to perform real life reactions to an effect. For example, when a character is shot in the neck, he falls to the ground face down clutching to his throat.
Sometimes when the character is shot, a large spray of blood covers the walls and the floor where the body of character lies. In other instances where explosives are used, the character burst into small but recognizable body parts (Shin). Though video games are entertaining and increase the dexterity and computer level in people, there has been much harm that has come from violent video games. But if we really want to stop the outcome of violence that are produced from playing violent video games, we should not just label the content as being violent or nonviolent.
We must make sure that the games that are introduced into our societies have been edited and are acceptable for younger ones. Violent games should be substituted for games that are less violent. As we discussed earlier, children learn in many different ways and video game could be one of the ways in which a child’s behavior could be influenced in a negative way. Using violent video games is not one of the ways a parent would like to bring up his child. For this reason, parents should control or avoid their children from being exposed to violent video games since these games influence violent behavior in children.