The Effects of Violent Video Games on Children

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Today video games are actively sought after by children in our society. In a recent research, 97% of children ages 12 to 17 engaged in some type of video game and of these children two-third of them played games that contained some type of violence. In another investigation it was reported that more than half of all the video games that the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rates contain violence, with more than 90% of those games being appropriate for only children 10 years of age and older. With this alarmingly high statistics, video games have raised some concern (Lenhart et al., 2008).
Children are very vulnerable to influences that they see on television and video games. Researchers that study classical learning suggests that children will imitate what they see on television even more so than what they witness in person, especially if they think what they see is real, identify with the character, find the character attractive, or if the child views without parental supervision (Papalia, Olds, & Feldman, 2009). Both the American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP) and the American Academy of Child & Adolescents Psychiatry(AACAP) agree that children learn by observing, mimicking, and adopting behaviors of their own. Although the AAP points out that there are many influences on a child's behavior, it does acknowledge that video games are a major influence due to the fact that they are highly interactive and encourage role play. It also fears that children may use video games as a way to virtually rehearse actual violence ("Violent video games" 2010). For example, in "first person shooter" video games the player views the game as an interactive 3-dimensional environment that simulates reality. With advances in technology today, children can play these games with others through the internet allowing them to virtually kill one another with all the blood, violence and gore included (Porter & Starcevic, 2007). Repeated exposure to these types of behaviors and violence in video games over time may desensitize children by numbing them emotionally, cause nightmares, and insomnia, decrease in academic performance and/or lead to aggressive behaviors and bullying ("Violent video games" 2010).
. Another negative impact that researchers have pointed out is that children are rewarded for their violent acts while playing video games. When the player complete a violent task correctly and timely they are rewarded by points and are promoted to the game's next level and/or status. Being rewarded for consistently acting out acts of violence throughout the game may also increase aggressive behavior.
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