In the present paper, the issue of video games’ impact on children and young adults is discussed. First of all, the emphasis is placed on the difference between violent and nonviolent video games and the general mechanism of influence on child’s perception and brain’s cognitive function. Secondly, the distinction between impacts is made. Scientific explanation of how violent video games affect children’s behavior is also outlined. In this context, verbal expressiveness of social interactions and negative perception of life are discussed. From the psycho-social perspective, stages of development and meaning of social skills for the mentioned vulnerable groups are emphasized. Appropriate conclusions are given in the end of the present paper.
Key words: violence, video games, aggression, children, behavior, young adults.
Harmful Influence of Video Games
In the recent years, the most arguable issue in the context of entertainment is the question of whether video games contribute to violence and aggression in the behavior of children and young adults. This issue is the problematic due to the recent increase in the juvenile delinquency and violent behavior of the children from relatively normal and stable families. The central thesis of this essay is that not all video games contribute to the aggressive behavior, only those which contain violence have negative influence on children and young adults. Further, this statement is proved by theoretical explanations and practical case studies in the field.
First of all, it should be emphasized that not all video games are the same. On the other hand, the purpose of all video games is in interactivity – active involvement of a player in the alternative reality, where his actions result to specific consequences. In this context, individual’s cognitive perception of the reality is substituted by the actions in the alternative one. Through this substitution, the cognition of the information and experiences gained in the alternative reality are learned and absorbed in the mind as useful and practically applicable in the real life (Anderson, Gentile & Buckley, 2007). Although an individual understands the difference between realities, his instincts and subconscious reactions do not usually make the same differentiation, since the model of behavior is absorbed irrespective of its contextual specifics (Walkerdine, 2009).
Another negative effect of violent video games is that individuals are getting used to the vision of blood and violence. Although it may seem that sight of real blood and virtual are two different things, from the brain cognition perspective, the difference is very little. By viewing and causing human sufferings in the interactive video games, children start to lose their sensitivity, respect to human feelings and, in some cases, to human life (Walkerdine, 2009). Those statements could be theoretical and subjective, if they were not supported by the scientific research in the field. In the research conducted by Irwin and Gross the difference between impact of violent and non-violent games was analyzed (1995). Children in the age of 6-7 were separated into two groups, those who played violent and those who played educative, non-violent games. During the next common play, children who played violent games were acting more aggressively and verbally expressive than children who played nonaggressive games (Walkerdine, 2009). Other researchers had investigated perceptive influence of the violent games. They found out that children who played aggressive games were more likely to have a negative perception of life. Even their terminology was entirely different; they used words from the video games, referring to the obstacles as hostile objects, enemies to the teachers that were giving too much of home work (Anderson & Bushman, 2001).
Overall, it can be concluded that not all video games have harmful influence on children. While non-violent games contribute to the cognitive development and growth of independence, violent video games contribute to a sticking expression of violence and aggression towards children’s relatives and class-mates. Both children and young adults are vulnerable to the influence of video games, because the cognitive and perceptive ability of their brains are still very high. Since in children’s case, the process of socialization is taking place and, in young adults’ case, the self-identification with the society, learned modes of behavior are expressed in their social lives.
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