Do video games promote violence?

having fun

Having a good time!!!

 

 

When I first started working on my website, “gamingwithgrandpa.com”, I wanted it to be fun, entertaining, and informative. I want to look at all aspects of the “Video Gaming World”.

The fun and entertaining part is easy, just play and have a good time. I love doing that.

But what about the informative part? Does that mean I only give the positive information about video games? No, it doesn’t. I want to be honest as best as I can about the negative effects of video games, especially on our kids.

“Do video games promote violence?”

I want to be fair about this subject. “Do video games promote violence?”. I don’t worry about this too much in my life because I am an old geezer, sixty-one.

Mad Gamer.

Just one more level!!!

I might get angry because I am stuck at a certain level in whatever game I’m playing. But I don’t go beat up someone because I couldn’t advance to the next level in “Call of Duty”. I just load up another game.

I have enough stuff in my life to get angry about, but I can’t blame violent video games for my bad attitude or my behavior.

With younger minds, we as parents and grandparents need to consider this discussion very carefully.

Are violent video games making my kids more violent?

What are some concerns about our kids (or anybody) who play video games?

Reality or Fantasy?

  • Psychological: Some people, especially young kids or teens, can be addicted to video games. They may also struggle with depression, low self-esteem, shyness, social anxiety, guilt, or a sense of powerlessness.
  • Physical and Health: Let’s be honest, if someone is sitting around playing video games, then they are not being very active physically. Probably not exercising at all.
  • Family: If our kids spend most of their time playing video games, then they are probably not hanging out with their brothers/sisters, moms/dads, or grandparents.
  • School/University: The truth is sometimes kids rather play a video game than do homework. I was the same way when I was a kid, however, we didn’t have video games.
  • Financial: Playing video games is not cheap. New games can cost $40 to $100 a piece. Consoles are $300 to $500 per unit. PCs run anywhere from few hundred dollars into thousands.
  • Interpersonal Impact: Most people playing video games are not spending very much time with other people (I am not counting online buddies). I am talking about face to face interaction with a person.

    Stress

    Stressing to Cope!!!

  • Finally, Aggressive behavior: Dartmouth reviewed 24 studies from around the world. The time frame was between 2010 and 2017. These findings were published by the National Academy of Sciences.

Video game addiction can be made worse when someone is suffering from some of these psychological issues.

unhealthy food

I’ll eat as I level up!!!

To make matters worse, they are probably not eating very healthy. A lot of junk food is consumed by gamers. Eating salads are not on one’s mind when trying to get to the next level in Pokémon.

This can cause major conflicts in the home. The kids want to increase their time playing video. Parents, on the other hand, want their kids to cut back on the time playing video games.

Academic success can suffer when video games become the focus instead of school.

These costs don’t include monthly fees for gaming websites, gaming accessories, add-ons to games, or gaming upgrades.

Sitting in front of a computer or television screen is not personal interaction. Even though gamers have access to people all over the world, one can still feel isolated.

Researchers found violent video games contributed to small increases in physical aggression.

My focus for this post is “Do video games promote violence/aggressive behavior?”. The other concerns mentioned above will be addressed in future posts.

The subject of video games promoting violence is a very hot debate. This needs to be discussed by everyone involved, especially the gaming industry and our families.

Do video games promote violence?

Let’s look at some statistics.

grain of salt

Question Everything???

Please remember, studies on violent behavior brought on by video games is limited. Please take these results with a grain of salt.

  • The American Psychological Association created a task force to review hundreds of studies and papers published between 2005 and 2013 based violent video games.
  • There was a 2011 analysis of game sales from 2004 to 2008. Scott Cunningham of Baylor University, Benjamin Engelsttter of the Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim, Germany, and Michael R. Ward of the University of Texas at Arlington found that higher rates of violent game sales paralleled with a drop-in crime, especially violent crimes.
  • There was a study done by Brad Bushman, a psychologist at Ohio State University. It involved over 130,000 subjects. It looked at 381 different effects on people who played violent video games.
  • Whitney DeCamp, an associate professor of sociology at Western Michigan University, says the evidence points to either no relationship between playing video games and violent behavior or an “insignificant” link between the two.

A word of caution:

Alert

Proceed with Caution!!!

The American Psychological Association concluded there was “no one single risk factor” to blame for aggression, but violent video games did contribute in some way.

The task force stated, “It is the accumulation of risk factors that tend to lead to aggressive or violent behavior. Research reviewed here demonstrates that violent video game use is one such risk factor.”

They also said more research was needed to determine if violent games lead to violent criminal behavior.

It is worth noting that as violent video games proliferated in recent years, the number of violent youthful offenders fell—by more than half between 1994 and 2010. This was according to the U.S. Department of Justice. This trend is not what the opponents of video games wanted to hear. Kind of goes against the theory, “Violent video games, makes violent kids.”

real world violence

Where does the blame belong, a GAME or OURSELVES!!!

The finding said violent video games increase aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, and physiological arousal.

Bushman is a strong proponent that first-person shooters video games influence real-world violence.

One key question this study does not answer: Does video game-induced aggressiveness persist over time? Does it become part of a person and the way he or she deals with the world?

Or does it dissipate within a few minutes or hours?

questions

What do I do???

Good question!!!

Decamp said, some studies have revealed a connection between kids playing violent video games and violent behavior. But there is a problem with “looking at those two things in a vacuum”: Kids who like to play brutal video games may have a predisposition toward aggression.

The real question: Does playing violent games cause a person to act violently?

angry

I am so MAD!!!

Decamp did his own study. He examined data from the 2008 Delaware School Survey, which included responses from 6,567 eighth-graders. Among the questions, students were asked, “Had they played violent video games in the past year?”. DeCamp factored out the propensity to play violent video games (due to a natural attraction to brutality) along with other factors, such as gender and family relations.

He discovered that playing video games, no matter how bloody or how brutal, did not predict violent behavior.

Christopher Ferguson, associate professor and co-chairman of the Department of Psychology at Stetson University, supports this view. In fact, he goes so far as to suggest that violent video games may help reduce societal violence rather than increase it.

stamps

I don’t think so!!!

“Basically, by keeping young males busy with things they like” — and this would include everything from playing sports and collecting stamps to playing first-person shooter video games — “you keep them off the streets and out of trouble,” he said.

He added that newer studies “with better methods” have typically failed to find much evidence of a connection between brutal games and even minor aggressive acts, let alone violence.

“I don’t think we have enough science to suggest that playing video games causes violence in children any more than watching violence on TV,” says Ryan Hall, a psychiatrist at the University of Central Florida.

Hall referenced a vast body of scientific literature that has failed to find any strong connection between violent television and corresponding behavior. “There is no indication at this time that violent video games are training killers.”

Video games can have a larger effect than media violence because the player is part of the action.

Hall comments that fears about video game violence are reminiscent of earlier moral panics about rock-and-roll music, Dungeons & Dragons, and especially comic books.

In the 1950s comic books were the subject of scholarly concern and even a Senate hearing about their role in juvenile delinquency. At that hearing, forensic scientist Frederic Wertham decried the “endless stream of brutality” in comic books.

superman

I’m one of the good guys!!!

He denounced one title in particular. He said it embodies sadistic fantasies that would be “particularly injurious to the ethical development of children.” That comic was Superman.

Are you kidding? Really, Superman.

What does all this mean?

To be honest, I was surprised there wasn’t more evidence connecting violent video games to aggressive behavior in kids.

Besides the studies I have mentioned, I also looked at other studies as well. Most of them had similar findings.

The basic theme of violent video games is they can be a risk factor. Not the factor, but a possible influence on a child’s behavior.

Although there is no hard evidence connecting aggressiveness to violence in video games, this still needs to be taken seriously.

kids playing video game

I’ll babysit myself, Mommy!!!

Our kid’s well-being is at stake.

Let’s be honest, it probably not a good idea to let a 5 or 6-year-old play games like “Resident Evil” or “Killzone”.

Also, if our kids are spending most of their time playing video games, then this should be a warning that something is not right with our children.

If they are acting overly aggressive towards other, then we need to ask them, “Is something wrong or is there something you would like to talk about?”

When we single out one risk factor, then we run the danger of ignoring other factors which contribute to our attitudes and behavior.

Kids have so many influences today.

thumbs up

Positive influences!!!

Some good:                                                                                                                       

  • Parents / Grandparents.
  • Brothers and sisters.
  • Girlfriends and boyfriends.
  • Friends.
  • School.
  • Social media (especially now with Facebook and Twitter).
  • Self-esteem.
  • A job/ a co-worker.
  • Our relationship with God.

    thumbs down

    Wait a minute, how can they both be right!!!

Some bad:

  • Parents / Grandparents.
  • Brothers and sisters.
  • Girlfriends and boyfriends.
  • Friends.
  • School.
  • Social media (especially now with Facebook and Twitter).
  • Self-esteem.
  • A job/ a co-worker.
  • Our relationship with God.

As you will notice the same things or people who are good for us, can also be bad for us. It all depends on how we use or relate to these people or things in our lives.

All these factors can have a positive or negative effect on our well-being. It can be one risk factor or a combination of many.

It can be so misleading when we try to blame one aspect of a person’s life. Especially, if we try to determine or judge how one acts in life.

Free

Nothing is free, we will pay in some way!!!

We are all very complex individuals. We have different wants and desires. We think differently. We have unique personalities. We come in different shapes and sizes. We have different backgrounds. Our life experiences vary from person to person.

The complexity of our lives and our being can’t be put into a box or we can’t just put on a label on our behavior.

For my finally two-cents worth, we must use common-sense. This human trait is severely lacking in our modern advanced world today.

There needs to be a balance, even when playing video games.

If video games are a part of our kid’s lives, then maybe we as parents and grandparents should take an interest.

space

It begins with inner space, not outer space!!!

You never know, there may a video gamer lurking in all of us.

Thank you for letting me share this post. I hope it has been helpful. If you have any comments, thoughts, or tips please respond below.

Gamingwithgrandpa.com.

Grandpa, johnny, the Grey Wolf.

Let’s Game!!!

6 Comments

  1. Joo

    My personal view on this: some games, like fighting ones, could desensitize the kids into accepting blood, gory and death as part and parcel of life, causing them to not be able to feel deeply for others, when other people get hurt, either physically or emotionally. So personally, I don’t like my kids to play violent games. 

    But I have found that even with very mild and ‘cartoony’ games, it’s also about how addicted the person gets. If you try to separate an addicted gamer from his game, anger comes in, violence may too, if he has found it to work previously. So it’s a matter of managing how attached one gets to the game. For my kids, I manage their expectation of how much time they spend on games each day, limiting to only 15 minutes, and that’s it. If they don’t adhere to the time limit, then that’s it, no more games for the rest of the week. 

    • johnny

      Hi Joo, thank you for your comment. I applaud you as a parent by putting restriction on your kids video game time. It shows you are involved in their interests. More parents need to do the same. 

      You mentioned the addicted gamer. I am currently working on my next post about video game addiction. I hope you will check it out when I am done. I would appreciate any thoughts when you read it.  

      I agree video games can desensitize a person to violent. But so can movies, TV shows, or the news.  The sad truth is blood, glory, and death are part of our lives whether we like it or not. All we have to do is watch the news and look at the world we live in. The reality of our harsh world does more to desensitize us than anything else. 

      Thanks for your input. johnny

  2. Josh

    Very interesting post. I was always curious about the research beyond the many many theories on this. It sounds like the research is generally consistent with what I would expect though. I enjoy playing plenty of violent video games but don’t ever feel like it leads to a heightened level of aggression in the real world. That said, I could definitely see how getting sucked into the impersonal world of video games could further screw up an already unhinged child (pardon the harsh language… I’m sure there is a more scientific description). Point being, if you are prone to violence, a violent video game definitely wont help lessen those tendencies but it also won’t create them out of thin air. Very informative post! 

    • johnny

      Hi Josh, thanks for the comment. I agree with your statement, “getting  sucked into the impersonal world of video games”. This can also be said of the internet in general with our social medias. Even our phones help create an impersonal world. Next time you are the mall or a public place, notice all the people staring down at their phones and not looking at people that pass by.

      This is a major flaw in our modern techno age. It is so sad. 

      This is why it is so important we get involved in each other lives. 

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. 

      johnny

  3. Scott Hinkle

    Great post.  I have to say, I’m surprised there’s not more data linking violence and violent games.  That said, I know there are many factors to consider.  I do firmly believe that, for some, violent games desensitizes the player to violence and the realistic graphics lessens the shock factor should they encounter similar scenes in real life.  I have no scientific proof but I think gamifying such actions and scenes leads to acceptance and familiarity (a “Oh, I’ve seen this before, no biggie” attitude).

    Don’t get me wrong, I think such games are a blast but that doesn’t lessen the effect they can have on the players and even observers.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • johnny

      Hi Scott, thanks for your thoughts. Like I said when I started this post,  I was surprised as well. I thought there would a ton of scientific evidence supporting the negative. It just wasn’t there for now. After more research is done, the evidence may change. 

      I think what desensitizes people the most is the harsh world we live in. Just look at the news. What is happening to our world is real, painful and cruel. I don’t want to make things sound so bad, but the reality is the world we live in is brutal. If playing violent video games contribute to that then we need to address this. 

      Thanks for your comment. 

      johnny

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *