The Kaiser Foundation in its recent study has found out that 97% of American children aged between 8 and 18 years spend a considerable amount of time, an average of 8 hours per week, playing video games (Ahuja, 2013). Studies show that the most popular games, played by children and young adults in USA, are all violent in content. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a first person shooter video game that collected a whopping $550 million within the first few days of its release in 2009 (Rozi and Muhyiddin, 2013).
The 10 most popular video games, among children and young adults, including Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Assassin Creed III, World of Warcraft, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Borderlands 2 and Halo 4 are all violent in content, with the characters in the games committing violent atrocities, hurling abusive and obscene languages, making out with sluts, unleashing violence towards women, abusing drugs, chopping off people and animals and committing every other imaginable and non-imaginable demonic activity. In the event of such prevalence of video games in the lives of American kids, there are numerous studies conducted by different researchers with the intention to find out the impact of video games on the overall society. There is a huge dichotomy of opinions among researchers as regards the impact of videos games on the society. Though most of the recent studies indicate the negative impact of video games on young minds, there are some people who believe that playing video games has some positive impacts as well. In the context of the effects of video games on the society, most of the researchers believe that playing video games impacts the society negatively by contributing to an increase in aggression, addiction and depression and attention deficit and poor academic performance in those playing the games regularly. However, another set of researchers completely refute the negative effects, emphasizing upon the positive effects of playing video games.
Increase in Aggression
The most talked-about effect of video games is the development of aggression in children and young adults playing violent video games regularly. Brad Bushman, a professor of psychology in Ohio, is of the opinion that playing violent video games increases the risk of developing aggression in children and young adults (Rozi and Muhyiddin, 2013). The findings of both experimental and non-experimental studies, conducted on men and women, have corroborated this fact only. A well-known psychologist, Craig A. Anderson (2007), in his meta-analysis has revealed how video games leave more damaging impact on children than that of TV programs by keeping the players actively involved in the process of controlling the actions of the violent character, who unleashes untold violence in the video games. In fact, researchers believe that this active participation in violent video games develops and enhances the aggressive streaks in children and young adults, which culminate in incidents like school shooting massacres and homicides. For example, Steven Phillip Kazmierczak, who wreaked havoc at the Northern Illinois University by shooting five people dead and injuring several others in 2008, was an ardent player of video games (Ferguson, 2008). James Eagan Holmes, the suspect behind the shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado and Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, the culprits who shot 12 students and one teacher to death in Columbine High School massacre, were all fond of playing video games (Carey, 2013). Iowa State researchers conducted a study on 227 juvenile offenders, and came up with the result that the frequency of playing video games has a direct correlation with violence and aggressive behavioral streaks (Iowa State University, 2013).
However, some researchers believe that the violent content in video games increases aggression in children only if a pre-existing propensity towards violence is present in the player. They hold the opinion that a few school shooting incidents, committed by a handful of video game addicts, do not prove that all the youngsters playing video games will end up on killing spree. Rather, these researchers share the opinion that certain violent video games, involving a target shooting with characters running and aiming shots at the same time, increase the hand-eye coordination, fine motor and spatial skills (RSK, 2013).
The process of aiming a shot at an enemy and successfully hitting him involves a perfect hand-eye coordination and visual-spatial ability that can be achieved only with experience. Furthermore, some experts believe that the reason for fighter pilots of today's generation being more skillful is their being trained on video games.
Addiction and Depression
Addiction is another detrimental effect of video games. Experts believe that videos games do the same damage to the society as drugs. Just as drugs give pleasure by stimulating different pleasure sensors of the brain, similar way video games also create a pleasing sensation in the players making them become addicted. This addiction to video games makes the players reclusive and socially isolated, and they develop other psychological problems like anxiety, depression and difficulty in making friends. An American poet, Ryan Van Cleave, in his biography 'Unplugged: My Journey into the Dark World of Video Game Addiction' has described how his addiction to ‘World of Warcraft’, a popular video game, had led him to depression (Anderson and Warburton).
However, there are some researchers who believe that playing video games does not lead to depression and despair as popularly believed. Rather, video games elevate the mood of the players and reduce their stress by developing a feeling of autonomy and competence (Johnson, 2013). Especially, old people are found to have reported high level of well-being due to playing video games. A research study conducted by North Carolina State University has come up with the finding that people aged 63 and above, who played video games at least occasionally, showed higher level of well-being compared to those, who didn't play video games at all (Business Standard, 2013). Rather those, who didn't play video games, showed a tendency towards depression.
Attention Deficit and Poor Academic Performance
Research shows that children addicted to playing violent video games are more likely to develop Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD. Iowa State University conducted a research study on 1,323 children for 13 months and came up with the finding that children, who played a considerable amount of time playing video games, showed an increased level of attention deficit (Reader's Digest). Due to the reduced attention, students underperform and suffer from poor grades. Several studies have shown that children playing video games for two or more hours every day suffer from problems related to reading and grasping math skills.
However, another group of researchers believe that playing video games regularly boosts the intelligence level of the players and thus, helps in studies. According to the researchers from Queen Mary University of London, certain types of games like StarCraft are helpful in improving the cognitive ability of the players. In their study on 72 students, the group playing the fast-paced game like StarCraft, in which the players needed to form and organize soldiers to fight an enemy, showed better cognitive flexibility than the group that played the Sims, which does not involve any special tactic or memory (Queen Mary, 2013).
Although video games have been associated with many negative effects something that cannot be truly is proved. This can be attributed to the fact that the hand-eye coordination as well as fine motor and spatial skills is better learned through the video games. For instance, a video game may have a character that is running at the same time shooting. That, therefore, will need the viewer to keep track and follow the position of the character, where the character is headed to and at what speed he/she is doing all that (RSK, 2013). All those plus many other factors are taken into account in the process of judging as to whether the video games are negatively or positively affecting the society. In the point of coordination, it can be deduced that they actually enhance the coordination of the brain’s interpretation as well as the reaction with the movement in their hands (Queen Mary, 2013). For such situations to happen there is a great deal of eye-hand coordination as well as visual–spatial ability for one to be successful. But according to research, the video games have played a big role in the learning and performance of crucial roles in the society. Surgery and pilots for instance. There is more than enough prove that grownups that have grew up watching video games develop skills that are helpful in surgical skills as well as why fighter jets pilots of recent times are more skillful in the current generation (Business Standard, 2013). Multi-tasking as well as managing multiple objectives is another positive aspect that can be learned from watching the video games. As people watch them from time to time, they are able to pick some strategies enabling and individual to perform various tasks at the same time (Carey, 2013). Quick thinking abilities that assist an individual to make fast and effective decisions can be derived from watching the video games.
Gender representation or depiction
A large portion of video games has been accused of reinforcing sexist stereotypes within the society. This can be attributed to the study that was conducted several years and come to a conclusion that over forty percent video games were written without the incorporation of one gender, that of women. At the same time, over twenty five percent videos were discovered to have objectified women as sexual objects; over twenty one percent videos did depict violence against women, and at the same time, around thirty percent of the videos that were sampled did not represent the female population at all (RSK, 2013). From such research also, it was deduced from the videos that women were characterized or stereotyped as highly sexual. In other words, they were portrayed as objects of beauty with large breasts and hips. They were as well depicted as obstacles to the goals of the game. From such depictions, it portrays one gender in s negative manner while portraying the other in a positive way (Business Standard, 2013). To a society, that is disheartening bearing in mind that they lead to various negative effects such as domestic violence. In this 21st century, such videos ought not to be allowed for we are at an age that we all are equal regardless of our sexual orientation or our gender. Almost similar to that is the issue of race (Carey, 2013). The video games as well have been accused of portraying other races to be superior than the rest and to a society that is not productive at all. Such video games may lead to hatred within the society yet they are entertainment objects that ought to maintain their main purpose; entertainment rather than try to classify the society along the racial lines (Carey, 2013). Video games that tend to promote racist are prone to bring about crime and gangs within the society but in recent times, there has been rules and regulations that ban the video producers to producing such kind of videos since the reparations have been clearly been seen.
Video games have been of great importance to the society in the recent times not only when it comes to entertainment, but also along the lines of training. Through video games, real world skills have been impacted into people through the mimicry of the real life experiences. Through them, people can be introduced to computers bearing in mind that the current world has been transformed to be an online society. Through the computers, the society is living in a high-tech as well as sophisticated world (Carey, 2013). Hence, the video games have a role to play especially in regards to assisting the kids to adopt and be comfortable with the concepts of the computers from an early age. It has been debated that most of the assimilated behaviors by people in a society can be linked to video games. Video games have in the recent times become the main basis of most of the tribulations that are in our society. For instance pornography, animosity speech, acts of malign, violence and the list is endless (Rozi and Muhyiddin, 2013). This can be as a result of the video games producers focusing more on corrupting the society’s previous conservative way of life with the type of materials they are nowadays dissemination to the society through the video games. It is for this and many other reasons that ‘everybody knows the video games are bad for the society.
Apart from the above elucidated facts about video games, it can be noted that video games are advantageous to the society in other ways that has not been expounded herein. The first way is through the bonding activities that the video games can bring about. A family can have a sit in their house to watch a video together (Ahuja, 2013). They will not only be getting entertainment, but rather, they will be bonding together. As a result, a society that is peaceful will have been created basing the argument that peace and harmony starts from the homes as it spreads out to the entire society. That is what the video games will have resulted into. The video games are able to help a society produce a learning generation (Business Standard, 2013). Through video games, young children can be taught about various things such as colors, animals, among many things from an early age. As a result, they will grow to become interested and interactive with the society taking the challenges that they may encounter in a positive way. In addition, video games are capable of offering learning lessons while having fun is a good way of motivating the children to keep on practicing regardless of the tasks that is put in front of them. Furthermore, video game enables people to be creative in nature and that is regardless of race, sex, age, and education background of an individual (Business Standard, 2013). This is because it has the capability is simulating creativity in an individual, and to a society, the creativity of individuals thanks to the video games in the long run translates to the society. The creativity can be as a result of lack of fear in trying out new things for it through practice that one becomes perfect. Through the perfectness, one gains self-confidence as well as self-esteem all of which enable individuals to live in harmony in a society (Rozi and Muhyiddin, 2013). On a similar note, the video games have the capability of encouraging team work and cooperation between people. This is created through various ways, for instance, video games needs people to sit together as they watch. In the process, bonding will take place something that will later transform to teamwork and cooperation. It goes without saying that a society that pools together through teamwork and cooperation stands a better chance of attaining greater heights (Queen Mary, 2013). Hence, even though a society stands to lose a lot from the negative impacts of a society, it as well stands to gain a lot for its positive impacts all of which has been elucidated in length herein.
In conclusion, video games have become a dominating aspect of the society with 97% of American kids spending a considerable amount of time playing video games every day. There has been a lot of debates over the effects of video games on the overall society with one group of researchers stressing that video games lead to an increase in aggression culminating in shooting massacres, while the other group of researchers believing that video games are helpful in improving the hand-eye coordination and spatial ability in people.
Some researchers also believe that video games lead to depression and addiction and make the avid players suffer from attention deficit whereas according to many scientists, video games makes people happy and help students perform well in studies by increasing their cognitive flexibility. Despite the positive effects of video games, there is no doubt that playing video games, especially, the violent ones on a regular basis, can take a toll on the young minds engendering an array of problems for the society. Therefore, people playing video games should be more careful about their selection of video games and should try their hands on some real games like soccer and baseball, instead of spending all the time on playing the virtual games.
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