The Impact of Video Games

Mar 31, 11 The Impact of Video Games

As someone who played video games as a kid, but have since grown out of them; I am always checking with my own team to see how late they were up the night before a match playing vgames. I know my own nephew (14) sometimes plays well into the wee hours the night before a game. I have been doing some research on the impacts it has on the kids and we all know that violent games can lead to negative thoughts which are sometimes acted out in real life.

But then sports games can certainly help kids understand the game better, I’v noticed kids playing FIFA’10 etc always seem to play 1or2 touch football and will try all types of tricks, which can be brought on the the training ground and they are fun; kids love nothing more then to show their parents how it’s done in the gaming world!

Video Games

have been available to consumers for the last 30 years. They are a unique form of entertainment, because they encourage players to become a part of the game’s script. Today’s sophisticated video games require players to pay constant attention to the game, rather than passively watching a movie. This has both positive and negative impacts on players. Several studies have been published that explore these impacts on today’s children.

The most widely used “positive” impact video games are said to have on children is that they may improve a player’s manual dexterity and computer literacy. Ever-improving technology also provides players with better graphics that give a more “realistic” virtual playing experience.

Recent Studies

However, numerous studies show that video games, especially ones with violent content, make teens more aggressive. Part of the increase in aggressive behavior is linked to the amount of time children are allowed to play video games. In one study by Walsh (2000), a majority of teens admitted that their parents do not impose a time limit on the number of hours they are allowed to play video games. The study also showed that most parents are unaware of the content or the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rating (see below) of the video games their children play.

The authors also stated that teens who play violent video games for extended periods of time:

  • Tend to be more aggressive
  • Are more prone to confrontation with their teachers
  • May engage in fights with their peers
  • See a decline in school achievements.

Gentile & Anderson (2003)

state that playing video games may increase aggressive behavior because violent acts are continually repeated throughout the video game. This method of repetition has long been considered an effective teaching method in reinforcing learning patterns.

Video games also encourage players to identify with and role play their favorite characters. This is referred to as a “first-person” video game (Anderson & Dill, 2000, p. 788) because players are able to make decisions affecting the actions of the character they are imitating. After a limited amount of time playing a violent video game, a player can “automatically prime aggressive thoughts” (Bushman & Anderson, 2002, p. 1680). The researchers concluded that players who had prior experience playing violent video games responded with anincreased level of aggression when they encountered confrontation (Bushman & Anderson, 2002).

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

Caution parents about violence in the media and its negative effect on children. Their report states that exposure to violent media can elevate aggressive feelings and thoughts, especially in children. These effects on aggressive behavior can be long-term. Although fewer studies have been conducted on interactive video games, evidence suggests that playing violent video games may have a more dramatic influence on the behavior of children and adolescents (Joint Statement, 2000).

Tips on managing your child’s media consumption

Because of the popularity of video games, completely eliminating them from your child’s life might be difficult. But you can decrease the negative impact that they have on your child. Here are a few tips:

  • Know the rating of the video games your child plays (see below).
  • Do not install video game equipment in your child’s bedroom.
  • Set limits on how often and how long your child is allowed to play video games.
  • Monitor all of your child’s media consumption — video games, television, movies and Internet.
  • Supervise your child’s Internet use — there are now many “video games” available for playing online.
  • Take the time to discuss with your children the games they are playing or other media they are watching. Ask your children how they feel about what they observe in these video games, television programs or movies. This is an opportunity to share your feelings and grow closer with your child.
  • Share with other parents information about certain games or ideas for helping each other in parenting

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)

Similar to the movie industry’s rating system, all major game companies now submit their new products for rating to specially trained raters at the ESRB. The ESRB rates over 1,000 games per year.

The ESRB looks at a number of factors when rating games. In particular, it considers the amount of violence, sex, controversial language and substance abuse found in a game. Based on its developed guidelines, the ESRB then gives an age recommendation and content descriptor to each game submitted. The following are the rating symbols currently in use, according to the ESRB Web site.

  • Early Childhood (EC): Content should be suitable for children 3 years and older and contain no objectionable material.
  • Everyone (E): Content suitable for persons ages 6 and older. The game may contain minimal violence and some “comic mischief.”
  • Teen (T): Content suitable for persons ages 13 and older. Content is more violent than (E) rating and contains mild or strong language, and/or suggestive themes.
  • Mature (M): Content suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Content definitely has more mature sexual themes, intense violence and stronger language.
  • Adults Only (AO): Content suitable only for adults and may contain graphic sex and/or violence. Adult Only products are not intended for persons under the age of 18.
    Rating Pending (RP): Game has been submitted to the ESRB and is awaiting a final rating.

Research: WEB, http://www.esrb.org/index-js.jsp,

References

Bushman, B. & Anderson, C. (2002). Violent Video Games and Hostile Expectations: A Test of the General Aggression Model. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 28, 1679-1686.

Gentile, D. A. & Anderson, C. A. (2003). Violent video games: The newest media violence hazard. In D. A. Gentile (Ed.), Media violence and children. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishing.

Gentile, D. A., Lynch, P., Linder, J. & Walsh, D. (2004). The effects of violent video game habits on adolescent hostility, aggressive behaviors, and school performance. Journal of Adolescence, 27, 5-22.

Joint Statement on the Impact of Entertainment Violence on Children: Congressional Public Health Summit. (July 26, 2000.) Available: http://www.aap.org/advocacy/ releases/jstmtevc.htm.

Walsh, D. (2000). Interactive violence and children: Testimony submitted to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, United States Senate. (March 21, 2000.)

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