Video of video games on children. Even though this

 

 

 

 

 

 

Video games and the influence on aggression in Children

Rebecca LaBine

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University Of North Dakota

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Playing
video games has become one of the most popular hobbies worldwide. Video games have
become a huge industry, and it has attracted people from all age types. It has
become one of the biggest “habits” so to say. Video games are played by kids
and adults, there are many issues that are being raised regarding the effects
of video games. What effects that video games have on kids have raised several questions.
 Some may say that video games are
indicators of child aggression while video game supporters argue that there is
no direct link between child aggression and violent video games. While many
people have their own personal stances, this topic seems to be getting more and
more attention and research every day. Scientists and researchers all over the
world are continuously doing research regarding the effects of video games on
children. Even though this remains a field of uncertainty for most researchers,
parents and guardians should be actively supervising their children while
playing any video game or computer games of any kind.
While many different case studies have been done all over the world, scientists
have yet to prove that there is a direct correlation between violent video
games and child aggression. This has been a topic that I have found to be very
argumentative as my children are now interested in the video game world. I
began researching this topic a while ago as to get a better understanding of
what the pro and cons of video games where as it was not really a thing when I
was younger. They were just starting to come out when I was a child and I
lacked knowledge in this area. I was surprised to see that many of my findings
were consistent with one another. For the most part, I found research which
consisted of a bunch of statistics from case studies and the interpretation of
those statistics from renowned scientists. In many cases, statistics and
studies showed slight indications that violent video games influence children
but none of the researchers were able to back their claim 100%. My findings are
what ultimately led me up to my own personal stance and advice regarding the
current state of this issue. I personally feel that video games that involve
violence and foul language can impact a child’s behavior. I do however, believe
that in most cases there is also some sort of psychological imbalance that is underlying
along with the video game use that causes more severe aggression issues. I would
advise parents such as myself that they should definitely keep an eye on what
it is exactly that their children are playing. This doesn’t mean that parents should
have to sit right with their child every second of every game, but they should
at least be informed as to what games their child is playing. This is more of a
safe than sorry sort of method. Some of the video games are intense, & if your
child has already been Dx with a disorder of some sort then maybe video games might
not be the best fit.

While researching this, it gave me a chance to know the ins the outs, and the
pros and the cons from both sides of the argument. The more I looked at articles
and papers written by others the more I noticed how much of the same
information or people would be referenced again in other sources or the same thing
would be repeated over and over again. One name that I kept finding was Dr.
Craig A. Anderson. After seeing his name and research pop up in numerous
articles and journals I did more research on him, himself. Basically, Dr.
Anderson is the “guy” or the guru of researchers regarding this topic. Dr.
Anderson is a professor and Director of the Department of Psychology at Iowa
State University. After receiving his Ph.D. in social psychology at Stanford
University in 1980, Anderson has written many books about violent video games,
human aggression and child aggression. Not only that, but several of his works
have been published in journals such as Psychological Science in the Public
Interest, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and Current Directions
in Psychological Science. Since having received his Ph.D., Anderson has been
one of the top researchers regarding this issue.

Often,
many people who believe violent video games have a negative effect on children
reference the research of Dr. Craig A. Anderson. I noticed this while reading other
articles and while searching through the hundreds of papers that have been written
on this topic. In most cases, people often reference the statistics found in
Dr. Anderson’s research, and more specifically the statistics from his most
recent case study conducted at Iowa State University. In 2008, Dr. Anderson
along with a few colleagues, conducted a case study to try and prove if there
is a link between child aggression in video games. The case study involved 3
groups of kids in 3 different age groups. The first group involved 181 Japanese
students ages 12 to 15. The second group involved 1050 Japanese students ages
13 to 18 and the last group was 364 American kids ages 9 to 12. Overall, the
basis of the experiment was to ask the kids parents and class mates how
aggressive they found that kid to be on a scale of one to ten. The parents then
were asked how much time their child spent playing video games a day, how many times
a week they played, and what games their child played the most. From there, Dr.
Anderson and his research team created the General Aggression model which summed
up the stats from the findings of the research. The General Aggression model
showed overall that kids who spent more time playing violent video games were
rated as more aggressive by their parents and peers. These results proved true
for all 3 of the age groups. The study overall proved that kids who were
thought to be more aggressive by their peers spent more time playing video
games. Many people who believe that video games cause child aggression often
refer to case studies like this. While Dr. Anderson’s case study does show that
there is a link between child aggression and violent video games, it does not
prove that violence in video games is the only cause of aggression in children.
The publication of Anderson’s case study was met with much disagreement and
doubt by many other scientists in the field. For the most part, other
researchers thought that the findings were too vague and overstated many
aspects. Many social scientists criticized that Anderson’s findings failed to
adequately acknowledge alternate views and other factors that can cause child
aggression. For instance, Cheryl K. Olson co-director of the Center for Mental
and the Media at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston critiqued that the
findings in Anderson’s research were, “too vague.” (Huang, 2008). And that, “Researchers
need to do a better job at defining what is considered a violent video game and
what constitutes aggressive behavior.” (Huang, 2008) She further added that, “I
think there may well be problems with some kinds video games for some kinds of
kids. We may find things we should be worried about, but right now we don’t
know enough.”. Asides from receiving much negative criticism from other people
in this field, Anderson’s case studies proved to be unconvincing in the court
of law as well. In 2011, Anderson took part as a specialized expert in supreme
court case Brown vs Entertainment Merchants Association. The court case
ultimately struck down a California law that was enacted in 2005 that banned
the sale of certain violent video games to minors without parental supervision.
Testimonies were made using Anderson’s case studies to try and prove that
violent video games cause child aggression but were ultimately ruled
ineffective by the Supreme Court. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia ruled
that Anderson’s studies, “Do not prove that violent video games cause minors to
act aggressively.” (Kravets, 2011). The Supreme Court found that video games
are forms of art just like music, books and movies, and that forbidding sell of
violent video games to minors would follow the first Amendment Right of
Constitution. Overall Dr. Anderson’s case studies have not proven a need to be
completely disregarded, but have not proven great accuracy either.

Aside’s from research conducted by researchers such as Craig Anderson, many
people who do not support the influence of violent video games on children will
often use examples found in the news and media. As a matter of fact, real life
incidents are the reason why this issue has become a major concern recently.
Over the past decade there has been more than a handful of cases involving kids
and crime that they committed with violent video games being the culprit. Not
only that but stories in the news about video game related violence continue to
come up around the clock. As mentioned earlier, the problems that many experts
found wrong with Dr. Anderson’s and other researchers case studies were that
they were too vague and failed to look at other aspects of caused aggression.
Well like Dr. Anderson’s research, many of these real-life examples often
involve more than just violent video games as causes of child aggression. For
instance, let’s take the Devon Moore case that happened in 2003. The Devon
Moore case was about a young 18-year-old named Devon Moore who had been
convicted of killing three police officers and stealing their car after they
had attempted to arrest him for a warrant that he already had for another car
robbery he was involved in. In his defense, Moore claimed that he was
influenced by the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and upon arrest he
told officers that, “Life is a video game. Everybody’s got to die sometime.”
(Leung,2009). Moore’s defense and conviction were met with much public outcry
at the time. Upon hearing his story, many people began to protest the effects
of violent video games on children and young adults. However, while even though
Moore used violent video games as his influence behind his motives in court,
his attempt ultimately failed. Upon further research of the investigation,
investigators found out that Devin Moore suffered from a long severe history of
post-traumatic stress disorder in combination with being physically abused his
father as well. These factors eliminated Moore’s video game defense and judges
eventually ruled that he committed a heated crime of passion. Devin Moore’s
case, however, is just one of many that has appeared in the news and media. In 2007,
Florida attorney and anti-video game activist Jack Thompson tried to make a
defense case for Seung-Hui Cho, the infamous gunman behind the Virginia Tech
Massacre. Thompson reported that Cho was an avid player of the action video
game Counter Strike and that his extended period of exposure to it were to
blame for his acts of violence. However, those allegations were never taken seriously
because investigators had found out that Cho had been diagnosed with severe
depression, selective mutism and an anxiety disorder since he was in middle
school. A more recent incident happened in the Netherlands. Twenty-four-year-old
Tristan Van der Vlis walked into a mall armed with an assault rifle and a
handgun and began firing at civilians. He ended up killing 7 people and
injuring 16 others before committing suicide himself. People who knew Van der
Vlis reported that he was obsessed with the action game Call of Duty: Modern
Warfare 2. While this was found to be true, investigators also found out that
Van der Vlis had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and had even tried
committing suicide twice before. Like many of these other extreme cases that
have popped up in the media in recent years, many of these aggressive acts were
attributed to factors other than video games. In nearly all of these cases,
prosecutors or investigators refused to isolate video games as the primary
causes of aggression. Much of this has to do with the fact that many of these
people in these incidents all had some sort of personal issue that went beyond
the influence of video games. For some of these people it was the household
they lived in or a mental/social disorder of some sort. Often, many of the
stories and cases that we hear in the news about video games and violence are
the most extreme cases. More often then so, the average video game user is not
going to go out and shoot people because of a video game he or she might be playing.
Not only that, but in many of these cases the influence of video games was
ruled out because there has yet to be an accurate correlation between the
effects of violent video games on people. Again, this goes back to what I
mentioned earlier. It is very difficult to accurately measure how aggressive
someone is through the effects of video games; the main reason being that there
are too many outside factors to be factored in. In the news and media, we are
often presented with the most and extreme and brutal cases of video game
related violence. To a certain extent, maybe these people were victims of the
influence they received from the video games they were playing, but that same
case cannot be me made for the rest of the millions of people who play violent
video games around the world. A survey conducted by parents and peers isn’t
enough to measure someone’s aggression. For all those students in Dr. Anderson’s
research who were labeled as aggressive, does that mean that they are future
school shooters of America? How do we even know what these kids have going on
in their personal life’s that could possibly be affecting them as well? It is
too hard to tell and the research that researchers have done so far has been
too vague to prove anything.

While research has yet to prove any kind of psychological connection between
violent video games and human aggression, more significant discoveries have
been made that show that there are physical connections between the two. In
2009, a case study conducted at Ohio State University by professors and grad
students sought out to prove if there are any physical connections between
video games and people. The team of researchers, headed by Dr. Wai Yen Tang,
ultimately wanted to see if there were any changes between people’s heart rates
and blood pressures when playing violent video games. Tang and his team had a
group of 75 students played three diverse types of games. One game was a
realistic violent game called Conflict Desert Storm, an action shooting game
about the Gulf War. The second game was an unrealistic violent game represented
by Star Wars Battlefront 2. Lastly, the third was a nonviolent sports game
called Hard Hitter Tennis. In their findings, Tang and his team found that
students had a significant increase in heart rate when playing the realistic
violent video games. The findings of the research were graphed in the chart
below:

After 4 trials, Tang found that students who played the realistic violent video
game had a more significant increase in heart rate. People’s heart rate beats
per minute were represented as the numbers for physiological arousal. Not only
that, but all students had seen a significant increase in heart rate for all
the video games in general. Nearly all trials for each type of video game were
well over the mark of the human average of 70 to 75 heart beats per minute. All
students who took part in the experiment also didn’t know that they were being
involved in research until the end of the experiment as well. While this case study
does show a link between the effects of video games on one’s hear rate, it does
not prove anything in regard to video games causing aggression. While increased
heart rate is one of the main symptoms of aggressiveness and emotional arousal,
the findings from this case study are just things that I believe concerned
patients should be taking note of. It’s not the violence in video games that
should be taken out of a young kid’s life, but rather an involved parent taking
awareness as to what video games their child is playing. Studies have only
proven to have shown mere warnings about the effects of video games on people
and this case study simply shows that there is a link between video games and
the way our bodies respond physically to them.
Aggression could be anything from as little as one someone socking somebody in
the arm or as big as someone opening gun fire on a crowd of innocent civilians.
In many of these most brutal cases of video game related violence, it has been
very hard to pinpoint the effects of video games as the leading causes of that
aggression. The fact that this issue remains in much of a gray area has led to
much speculation. Many people are asking who is to blame for this violence? The
answer is that so far, video games are not; or at least in many of these most
extreme cases. In many of these extreme cases of video game related violence,
many of these culprits have had many other social factors that have affected
them as possible causes of their aggression or insanity. In the Tristan Van der
Vlis case, we witnessed a young man take his own life who had been previously
diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. In Devon Moore, we have a young man who
suffered from a long history of post-traumatic stress disorder and an abusive
father. As humans, we have so many social factors that influence us in our
lives. For all we know, maybe these suspects could have been affected by the
video games they were playing, but if so, they are affected by video games in
combination with other factors in their lives. Video games have not proven to
not have any effects on people and until that day comes I think that parents
should be encouraged to play a role in being aware as to what it is their
children are playing. The goal is to ultimately prevent video games from being
a cause of aggression. Children have much more absorbent minds and that is why
it is up to parents to get involved on what influences their kids.

Overall, the effects of video games on human aggression is an issue that is
still in its raw stage of research. As time goes on people will surely continue
to play video games, violent or nonviolent, and researchers will continue to
raise many more questions and seek many more answers. However, for many
concerned parents out there who have children that play video games, it is best
to simply keep themselves updated as to what their children are playing.
Violent video games are not the culprit that goes into school campuses and end
up shooting innocent people but at the same time we don’t know what research
could tell us possibly in a few years.

 

 

References

Anderson, C. (2007, March 22). Interview by Howe S
Personal Interview. Interview with
dr.craig anderson:video game violence. Distinguished lectures/special
topics, Lincoln. , Retrieved from http://www.psychology.iastate.edu/faculty/caa/Multimedia/EyeOnPsiChiInterview.pdf

Ferguson, C. (2011). Video
games and youth violence: A prospective analysis in adolescents. Journal of
Youth & Adolescence, 40(4), 377-391. doi: 10.1007/s10964-010-9610-x

Hastings, E., Karas, T., Winsler, A., Way, E., Madigan,
A., & Tyler, S. (2009). Young
children’s video/computer game use: Relations with school performance and behavior.
Issue in mental health nursing, 30(10), 638-649. doi:
10.1080/01612840903050414.

Harding, A. (2008, November 03). Violent video games linked to aggression in children, teens.
Retrieved from http://www.health.com/stress/violent-video-games-linked-to-aggression-in-children-teens

 

Kravets,
D. (2011, June 27). States may not ban sale, rental of violent video
games to minors. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2011/06/violent-video-games-scotus/

Mitrofan, O., Paul, M., & Spencer, N. (2009). Is aggression in children with behavioral
and emotional difficulties associated with television viewing and video game
playing? a systematic review. Child: Care, Health & Development, 35 (1),
5-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1365- 2214.2008.00912.x

Paton, G. (2012, April 03). Violent video games are fueling rise in aggressive behavior. The
Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/9183385/Violent-video-games-are-
fuelling-rise-in-aggressive-behaviour.html