Pros And Cons Of Violent Video Games

‘90% of all children in the world play video games’, this information may come as a shock to most readers since society has deemed video games a source of distraction and utter waste of time for children. Why do you think society opposes the idea of children playing  video games so much? Well, the answer is that the majority of scientific and psychological conducted by notable associations such as the American Psychological Association (APA) are producing single-sided arguments that state that ‘violent  video games (VVGs) increase aggressive behavior for children aged 10-16’, that alter people perceptions about violent  video games since people are more susceptible to respond to such information. Psychologists have blatantly stated that ‘violent  video games can be linked to increased levels of aggression in children’, while in reality first shooter games (FSG) have been proved by well-known scholars such as Dr. Daphne Bavelier have stated that VVGs such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto II are non-conventional methods that enhance children’s intellectual abilities. Since there are numerous opposing arguments about this matter, Which side do you presume is correct or holds more merit? The answer is that both sides hold merit and both sides are true to a certain extent, but certain things aren’t included in the numerous studies that are conducted for example, how can a child avoid developing ‘aggressive behavior’ from VVGs? And How do VVGs increase intellectual abilities for children aged 10-16? This essay will present the long-term positive aspects of VVGs on children aged 10-16 and how can children avoid the negative aspects of VVGs.

VVGs have numerous positive aspects on children however certain ‘myths’ are spread about VVGs, for example, ‘ video games worsen eyesight’, this is one of the many myths that are said about  video games-Evidence that was presented by cognitive neuroscientist Daphne Bavelier indicated and proved that ‘people that don’t play a lot of action  video games have normal or “corrective-to-normal vision” while people that play  video games for 10 and 15 hours per week …their vision is really good, better than people that don’t play  video games’. She also stated that people and children that play  video games are ‘able to resolve small detail in the context of clutter’ making them prone to realize small details that the average child and human might not see.

 Enhanced eye-sight is one of the most notable positive aspects of playing  video games, what happens is that when children aged 10-16 play  video games for long periods they experience something called ‘Increased Contrast Sensitivity’ meaning that their eyes can detect different levels (shades) of grey better than the average child. You might think well, what benefit does that hold for a child? This is a long term benefit as when a child that plays VVGs grows older and eventually drives a car they will be able to drive at a more efficient level. Take a second to think about this piece of information, try and remember a time where you were driving in the winter early in the morning and there was fog and the streets were unclear and you couldn’t see properly, was it easy or difficult for you to drive in such environments? For a person that plays VVGs, it is easier to drive a car in this setting than the average person, because their brain and eyesight are trained to adapt to such environments as a result of them playing VVGs as children.

Another myth that is associated with  video games and children is that “  video games lead to attention problems and greater distractibility”…yet again this statement is false. Dr. Bavelier has provided information that ‘the average child/young adult can have a span of about 3 or 4 objects of attention, while a videogame player has a span of 6 to 7 objects of attention’. This would prove that  video games enhance the human brain because the videogame player can focus on 6-7 objects while the average child would only be able to focus on 3 - 4. Also, Dr. Bavelier ran a series of brain imaging tests about this matter she concluded that when it comes to the ‘parietal cortex which is very well known to control the orientation of attention’, ‘the frontal lobe which controls how we sustain attention’, and ‘the anterior cingulate, which controls how we allocate and regulate attention and resolve conflict’, all three of these brain networks are much more ‘efficient’ in people that play action video games. This is also a long-term aspect of children playing VVGs because when a child is playing a game such as Call of Duty, the game requires them to focus on numerous things at the same time and complete multiple tasks at the same time which therefore increases their attention span, making them capable of focusing on more than one thing which will benefit them in their adult life.

Moving on to the negative aspects of VVGs and how we can ensure that our children can avoid inhabiting the ‘aggressive behaviors’ that are sometimes associated with VVGs. Firstly, it is believed that one of the reasons that  video games promote violent and aggressive behavior is because ‘adolescents and children model themselves after people or characters with whom they identify’. This means that if they relate to a character in a videogame they will start to slowly adopt this character’s opinions and acts. After thorough research, a mother stated that after her son played a ‘Spiderman’ Videogame he attempted to ‘jump off of couches and balconies’ thinking he was like spiderman and possessed the abilities that this fictitious character possessed. ‘Mediators and Moderators of Long-term Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggressive Behavior’ medical research present different information.  This research stated after a series of thorough experiments that ‘violent videogame play increases long term aggressive behavior regardless of sex, age, initial aggressiveness, and parental involvement’. So some numerous studies and researches show us that there might be a link between VVGs and increased violent/aggressive behavior, however, we cannot formulate a yes or no answer to whether or not there is a link between these matters, the only thing we can do is see how we can avoid the negative aspects of VVGs.

What can we do?

According to Dr. Nicholas J. Westers, there is a series of things that we can do, for example, we can decrease the number of hours that a child spends playing VVGs. Another solution is to connect with the child and be empathetic, he says that "Video games elicit a lot of emotions – from excitement to frustration," Dr. Westers says. "Talk about good sportsmanship and how you cope with those feelings – whether that's not being a sore winner or loser, or knowing your limits and when it's time to turn off the game and walk away when you're getting too frustrated.", this type of relationship trains children to regulate their emotions and apply them to everyday life. Westers also listed some warning signals that might indicate that FS games and VVGs are starting to become a problem, which are:

  1. Increased aggression, which could indicate kids learning violence from gaming
  2. Change in behavior, such as increased social isolation or a decline in grades at school
  3. Irritability
  4. Difficulty sleeping
  5. Increased or peculiar interest in the real-life equivalent of the weapons used in the video game(s)

This is how we can avoid the negative aspects of VVGs, by maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

In conclusion, we have outlined the long-term positive effects of VVGs on children ages 10-16 according to cognitive research, which proves that  video games aren’t a harmful source of recreation like some scientists and psychologists would like society to believe and that they shall help in completing day-to-day tasks such as driving, focusing in classes, meetings, etc. We also discussed the negative aspects of VVGs and how we can avoid any type of ‘aggression’ from developing in children. This essay proves that VVGs isn’t a ‘source of distraction’ and that even though they may not be accepted by society, they hold some benefit for children.



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