Video games are among the most popular activities for children and youth. They are at least as popular as television, but some studies show that video games become more and more popular due to a number of advantages, such as interaction and constant development of new programs and gaming technologies. Video games are getting more and more violent, thus they raise the concerns of both scholars and public about the influence of such game contents on the moods and behaviors of youth. There are many arguments that support the idea of the negative influence of violent video games on the aggression of children and adolescents, while some facts still show that there is no significant influence of video games on the behaviors of the younger generation. Therefore, despite the common belief that there is a strong connection between violent video games and youth violence, there is no strong evidence of this relation.
Over the past decade and a half, numerous violent crimes conducted by school and university students have led to a debate about the impact of video games and television on the violence rates among youth. The rise in mass aggressive acts among youth is witnessed together with the rise of interest in violent video games for the past two decades (Ferguson, 2010). The most recorded crimes conducted by youth can be found in the history of the United States: “Beltway’’ sniper shootings in Autumn 2002 (Anderson, 2003), Virginia Tech massacre in April 2007 (Ferguson, 2008)), as well as numerous mass shootings and spree crimes throughout the country. At the same time, there is clear evidence that violent crimes committed by adolescents were recorded both in Europe and Asia (Anderson, 2003).
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One of the major disadvantage of all studies that prove the correlation between violent games and aggression in real life is the lack of background studies of the children’s environment (Lynch, 2001). As a result, researchers make their conclusions while grounding only on one factor of many. While children can be influenced by video games, their parents, TV, friends, and school as well impact them. Therefore, it can be said that video games have a significant influence on the aggressive behavior of youth if only all the influences are studied altogether and video games are proven to be the only negative impact.
It is essential to note that the overall youth crime rates are currently much lower than they were back in the 1960s (Ferguson & Kilburn, 2010), although the numbers of children playing violent computer games have significantly grown over the past couple of decades. These statistics alone show that all the mentioned acts of aggression among children cannot be blamed on computer games and researchers should look for other sources of violence among children and adolescents.
There are many studies showing the impact of violent video games on aggression among school and university students. Various acts of mass violence that have happened in different states have led to assumptions that there is a strong connection between games and behavior patterns. But, while there are many studies that show the connection between the two factors, there are as many researchers that prove no or almost no influence of video games on the behavior of children and teenagers. Therefore, before jumping to any conclusions the subject of violent video games and their influence on youth behaviors still requires deeper exploration.
- Anderson, C.A. (2003). An update on the effects of playing violent video games. Journal of Adolescence, 27, 113-122.
- Ferguson, C.J. (2008). The school shooting/violent video game link: Causal link or moral panic? Journal of Investigating Psychology and Offender Profiling, 5.
- Ferguson, C.J. (2010). Video games and youth violence: A prospective analysis in adolescents. Journal of Youth Adolescence.
- Ferguson, C.J. & Kilburn, J. (2010). Much ado about nothing: The misestimation and overinterpretation of violent video game effects in Eastern and Western nations: Comment on Anderson et. al. Psychological Bulletin.
- Lynch, P.L., Gentile, D.A., Olson, A.A., & van Brederote, T.M. (2001). The effects of violent video game habits on adolescent aggressive attitudes and behaviors. Biennial Conference of the Society for Research in Child Development