Essay: Video Games Impact Adolescent Aggression

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¶ … Video Games Impact Adolescent Aggression

The impact of Video Games on adolescent aggression

The timing of the launch of video games by companies is more or less the same. For instance, Sony launched its Play station in March 2000 in Japan and later that year, in October, it launched the same product in North America, and a month later, in November, it launched it in Europe. Other companies too have been using the same time-line, differentiating the release of their products by a margin of months. Companies release their products in order to sell them for a profit and make their brand name popular amongst children. Critics argue that these companies are putting the youth at great risk by exposing them to violent material. For instance, Nicholas (2005) writes, "Rewarded violence in video games increases hostility and aggressive thinking and behavior. Violent behavior punished in the context of a video game increases hostility to the same degree, but affects aggressive thoughts and behavior less."

Critics argue that exposure to violence leads to antisocial behavior and many children, particularly, in the United States and United Kingdom are exposed to unhealthy and aggressive material (Elmer-Dewitt, 1993). The connection between video games and incidents of high school violence has also been thoroughly researched and proved (Flatin, 2000; Gegax, Adler, & Pedersen, 1998). The disturbing factor, after reviewing the data on video game use, is that children spend a great deal of time playing them. In the United States, most children aged between 2 and 18 have access to video games. Almost three fourth families, from the surveyed sample, have at least one video game console (Kaiser Family Foundation, 1999).

Video games have only recently become a part of our daily lives. Therefore, research data on the impact of video games on the lives of children and adults is far and few when compared with the adverse affects of other forms of media such as television and films. As Nicholas and Craig (2005) write, "Because violent video games are a relatively new type of violent media, the literature examining negative effects on players is small compared with the literature on negative effects of television and film violence. However, a clear consensus has already been reached: Playing violent video games increases aggression."

Since children are spending a great deal of time playing video games, researchers have been busy compiling one study after another that links video game violence to adolescent aggression. This aggression can either be active or passive. That is, they are either actively involved in a violent act, or they are witnessing one without little to no emotional turmoil. Mcrae (2008) writes, "Most young people would have cringed 20 or 30 years ago at street violence, but with how common it has become in the video games they play, most wouldn't blink an eye at it. Though that doesn't necessarily mean those people are going to go out and shoot up their school, it has some stance in how accustomed society has become to violence. Seeing decapitation or guts strewn about in video games is no longer hardcore' or edgy', but rather almost a requirement in violent video games. I see kids who get bored if the game's violence is minimal or even not graphic enough. it's debatable whether this desensitization is a positive or a negative effect on society, though I personally see it as a neutral effect, it's a little unnerving to think how it could grow into more."

Wiegman and van Shie (1998) in their study questioned 10 to 14-year-old adolescents regarding the amount of time they spend playing video games along with their particular gaming choices. The outcome of the study indicated that a strong relationship exists between violent video games and aggressive behavior. Similarly, other empirical studies too have come to the same conclusion (Dominick, 1984; Lin & Lepper, 1987). Similarly, some researchers have tied a connection of adult aggression with violent video games as well (Anderson & Dill, 2000). Anderson and Ford (1986) in their assigned college students to the following three conditions:

1) Playing a highly aggressive video game;

2) Playing a mildly aggressive video game; and 3) a no play control condition

Thereafter, the subjects were asked to select from a checklist of thoughts and emotions, the words that best describe their state of mind at that instance. The results indicated that subjects exposed to the first condition listed extremely aggressive thoughts and emotions than those who were exposed to the third condition.

In line with Gentile and Anderson (2003), violent video games are those wherein one character in the game in harming another character. They assert that in almost all video games harming another character in the main action. This, more often than not, leads to death (Gentile and Anderson, 2003). Similarly, research carried out by Children Now (2001) established that nearly eighty nine percent of all video games comprise some form of violence and nearly half of them comprise violence that would result in a serious injury or death (Children Now, 2001).

Gentile and Anderson's (2003) study and Children Now (2001) analysis of video games are some of the recent studies that have explored the relationship between video games and aggression. In an earlier study, Dietz (1998) found that almost eighty percent of video games in the year 1995, released by companies like Nintendo and Sega, included aggressive acts. These aggressive acts varied from sports aggression to criminal violence. The results also found that in most cases violence was directed towards another human character and was extremely graphic. Furthermore, violence was being used as the key strategy to achieve success in these games. Lastly, Dietz found that socially acceptable aggressive behavior depicted in these video games was very low, nearly twenty seven percent (Dietz, 1998).

Rick et al. (2007) in their study scanned adolescent brains whilst they were playing video games. One group was exposed to non-violent but exciting game, while then other was exposed to a violent one. The results indicate, "Compared with the group that played the nonviolent game, the group that played the violent video game demonstrated less activation in the prefrontal portions of the brain, which are involved in inhibition, concentration and self-control, and more activation in the amygdala, which is involved in emotional arousal." In another study, Yang et al. (2006) found similar results. They asserted, "Adolescents who play violent video games may exhibit lingering effects on brain function, including increased activity in the region of the brain that governs emotional arousal and decreased activity in the brain's executive function, which is associated with control, focus and concentration."

Smith, Lachlan, and Tamborini (2003) studied the most popular acts of video game violence amongst adolescents. They chose three different video games, namely:

Sony PlayStation,

Nintendo (N64), and Sega DreamCast.

The results of their study were quite alarming. They asserted that those games which had been given a rating of E/K -- a (for ages six and above) displayed no less one violent act every minute. Also, nearly half of time, violent acts were rewarded and justified in a humorous manner. Furthermore, violence was never punished. Those video games that had been given a rating of "T" (for ages thirteen and above) and ratings of "M" (for ages seventeen and above) displayed nearly 4.59 acts of violence every minute. Violence in these games too was quite often rewarded, justified and repeated over and over again. It was rarely ever punished. They also found that, video games with ratings of T. And M. displayed a great deal of blood and gore and comprised utilization of guns and alternative weaponry, such as chairs, furniture baseball bats and other sporting equipment to perform violent acts (Smith, Lachlan, and Tamborini, 2003).

Nicoll and Kieffer (2005) in their study reviewed research on video games that had been carried out in the last ten years. The results of their study indicate that adolescents who play video games for only a short amount of time, experience increasingly aggressive thoughts and emotions immediately after playing the video game. They cite one study where children after playing a video game for just ten minutes rated themselves with highly aggressive characters and violent actions immediately after playing the video game. Similarly, another study was carried out with a sample of six hundred students of eight and nine graders. The results of this study indicated that students who spent more time playing video games were ranked by their teachers as more aggressive and hostile than other children. These children frequently engaged in arguments with people who had some sort of authority in school. They were highly likely to be engaged in a physical fight with fellow students and most of them performed poorly in learning tasks (Nicoll and Kieffer, 2005).

Furthermore, this study also explored the impact of those video games that display intense and violent graphics. They found that adolescent gamers "tend to imitate the moves that they just 'acted out' in the game they played." This was… [END OF PREVIEW]

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