In this report, violence in video games is shown to affect children under the age of 18 in one of two ways. The first way embodies Stuart Hall’s theory of communication and is detrimental to development and growth of a child. The second represents McLuhan’s theory and has transformative effects on children for the better. There is evidence that supports the idea that kids and teens exposed violent video games can have tendencies to be more violent hostile and aggressive. D.A. Gentile, P.J. Lynch, J.R. Linder, and D.A. Walsh (2004) in their research found that: “Adolescents who expose themselves to greater amounts of video game violence were more hostile, reported getting into arguments with teachers more frequently, were more likely to be involved in physical fights, and performed more poorly in school. If this is true then younger children and teens who are exposed to intended violence in video games can have tendencies to be more aggressive.” The problem with younger children from say the ages of seven to twelve are more impressionable, anything they see on TV, on video games, even in real life they want to imitate and pretend to do. For example a younger child who plays Pokemon will pretend to be a Pokemon trainer because they find that concept to be “cool” or “awesome” in their mind, so a younger child who plays Grand Theft Auto could possibly by chance find that mugging and killing people, stealing cars, doing and selling drugs, and going to strip clubs is cool so they could by chance pretend to do those things. Younger children don’t know right from wrong necessarily and if they play a violent game at a young age they won’t be able to understand that what’s happening in that game isn’t real their young brains will believe that what’s going on in that game is ok and that they could “theoretically” do that in real life, so they grow up believing it’s ok to beat people to death and steal their money when in reality that's not the case, and if no one tells them what they are pretending to do is wrong or that what happens in a video game isn’t real in their mind they will believe it’s all ok to do and it happens in real life. They see these violent and graphic things happening in video games and they think to themselves “I want to do that myself” they look to model themselves after these fake imaginary characters who kill, and steal, and dea drugs, and that’s awful because that’s the opposite of what an adolescent should strive to be. [Related image] [Image result for video game violence and child behavior] [Image result for video game violence and child behavior statistics] [Image result for video game violence]
New generation video games contain substantial amounts of increasingly realistic representations of violence. The mature nature of such games are being seen as not suitable for children under the age of eighteen. Due to the type of graphic contents shown throughout the majority of violent video games more adults are questioning if they should protect their children from being exposed to these types of behaviors or if these behavior will be good for them. Violence has always been seen as a this harmful, vicious thing in every light, especially when taught to children. While video games in general are seen as not entirely harmful to children, but exposure to too much of it can result in unhealthy decision making. [Image result for video game violence causing violence in children]
Many will argue that Violence in video games are bad and allowing children to believe that doing harmful and dangerous stunts are cool. “That media exposure over time can incrementally change a person’s perception of reality” (Collier 108). Children will start to see that the world is not as wonderful as they may have thought it was and that they don’t always have to follow the rules. They will come to see that sometimes doing bad things and acting out will get them attention and they will find it fun without really realizing the effects their actions have on themselves and others. “Playing violent video games [only] increase[s] dehumanization, which in turn elicited aggressive behavior” (Hartmann 311). These results come from seeing their characters act that way or speak that way, since children are always learning new things and curious about the world, they are quick to pick up on those striking aspects. Learning these violent behaviors allows children to find it okay to do and perform on other children and people. Even watching someone else play violent video games, it is “teaching children to use weapons and hardening them emotionally to the idea of murder” (Collier 109). Children are exposed to the gruesome outcomes that the characters face and they find it fun and amusing. Continuous exposure to that can teach them to grow up to think that those situations in real life are also okay to do and do them off of emotions and find them as fun and amusing as they did before. Which is why some people find that violent video games are not for children under the age of eighteen.
While violent video games are seen as bad, some see it as a good thing for children. Some view violent video games as a way to help children unleash how they feel in “a safe fantasy world in which [they] can learn to control the emotions of anger, violence, and sexuality” (Collier 109). Instead of going out and inflicting actual harm on an actual human beings, they can simply turn on their game and inflict fake pain on a virtual being. That way, no one gets hurt and they are able to relieve themselves of the rage they felt. Children will learn to manage their feelings and learn how to calm themselves down. Not only does the violence they are doing in video games, helping them emotionally, but it can help them mentally too. The “violence in video games is often portrayed as justified because opponents are displayed as gruesome, players have to fight for a higher good, violence is rewarded, and victims rarely include civilians, females, or children” (Hartmann 315). Children will learn that you can’t necessarily attack random people if they did nothing wrong. They’ll learn that sometimes you have to fail a couple times before you can get it right. They will also learn that with a deed well done comes a reward of status and rankings. Children will grow up to want to put in work and try their hardest to be considered the best, which is why violent video games aren’t seen as that bad in some people's eyes.
While there are some ways video games can help children, they can be harmful as well. There are many ways these games can be linked to violence, which will be considered here, along with some points from Marshall McLuhan. Many of the ways that these games connect to violence can be seen as exaggerated, however, they are very real threats and should not be taken lightly.
To start, there certain children who my imitate what they may see in these games, no, they will likely not commit shooting or anything to the extreme, however, it could lead to them being more violent around others when they don’t get their way. It is unfortunate to say that the extreme does sometimes happen, such is the case with “Two teenagers in Tennessee who shot at passing cars and killed one driver told police they got the idea from playing Grand Theft Auto III” (ProCon). While this is the unfortunate extreme of what violent games can do, it is a very real extreme, and children do at time imitate what they see in media. There is also the widely known argument that these games desensitize players to violence, which seems reasonable to a certain extent. While it is true that the exposure to violence through games can make it seem less extreme, it does not make people less sensitive to real world violence, at least, not completely. It does have an effect on gamers, “In a 2005 peer-reviewed study, violent video game exposure was linked to reduced P300 amplitudes in the brain, which is associated with desensitization to violence and increases in aggressive behavior.” (ProCon). While this may not seem like a drastic change, the change is still there, and the effect can happen after only playing for less than a half hour. This can be why so many shootings are potentially linked to gaming, those who committed these actions may have been gamers who then decided to commit these crimes, however, that does not mean that because these people played violent games they then became violent themselves. Here would be a good place to mention Marshall McLuhan, who seems to believe that any medium is an extension of ourselves and that “the personal and social consequences of any medium—that is, of any extension of ourselves—result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.” (McLuhan). Basically, this boils down to whatever we do because of media is simply what we would do regardless. This indicates that the shooting mentioned above would have still happened even if the game in question had not existed due to the game not truely affecting how they would act. This is where games and violence may connect to McLuhan’s idea of the medium is the message, every medium is simply an extension of ourselves and blaming anything on a game means nothing because of it. This is because these actions that make people believe that violent games lead to children being violent really have nothing to do with the games, people just use them as an excuse to make these games seem worse rather than looking into who the person committing the crime is and seeing that they are completely at fault for their actions. [Image result for video game violence kids]
The problem is a loophole in society, unfortunately. Even when I was a child, I did in fact play video games that were rated “M” for mature content. This mature content was nothing that has affected my present wellbeing and I personally have never confused reality with what happens in video games. The mature content, interacted with in video games is only slightly different than the mature content viewed in other mediums. Movies, music, TV shows, radio, books, and real life all have elements of violence present and it is impossible to shelter children from seeing violence, however, it is possible to regulate how much violence children can see. Establishing tighter regulations on the selling of video games with mature content should happen, making it more difficult for children to gain access to new games that contain violent, mature content could result in a decrease in aggression. Parents should also realize the implications of violence and mature content in video games and should limit or regulate how much violence their child sees. Video games are unique in violent and mature media, especially due to the fact that video game scenarios are interactive and story based. Interactivity is at its maximum in brand new video games, cutting edge game engines generate some of the most realistic graphics and physical properties that can straddle the line between video game and reality. With the recent introduction of virtual reality, this combination of realistic game making and complete immersion can be detrimental to the mindsets of children who will without fail spend 6+ hours a day playing through violent and inappropriate scenarios.
James W. Carey, an American communication theorist who believed and preached two separate ways to view communication, has a view that explains societies need for maintenance and our ability to conduct and focus change into particular circles of life. Carey explains that “a ritual view is the sacred ceremony that draws persons together in fellowship and commonality.” Carey would not be too excited to hear that video games labelled as mature are being obsessed over by children, however, he would be excited to apply his ritual view of communication theory to solve the problem. His goal, like ours, would be to lock violent video games from the minds of children until they are of age to use them. He also would believe that no one person can do it alone, it is a societal problem and therefore a societal effort to solve it would be necessary.
In this report, violence in video games is shown to affect children under the age of 18 in one of two ways. The first way embodies James Carey’s theory of communication and is detrimental to development and growth of a child. The second represents Marshall McLuhan’s theory and has transformative effects on children for the better.
First, we have discussed in depth the several ways that violence in video games can affect a child under the age of 18. Although violence is usually portrayed as a harmful and negative action, it is believed by many that too much exposure at a young age can lead to bad future decisions. This is because the exposure could lead growing children to believe that these repulsive actions are cool and it will give them attention, and it is ok to commit them in reality on other people. On the other hand, some believe that there is no harm in allowing kids to play these games. This is because they argue that they work as an outlet for them to unleash their feelings in a fictional game. As a result, the children would understand the negative aspects of violence and not commit these actions in real life. These are the arguments that many people have made regarding the effect of violent video games on underage kids. [Image result for video game violence causing violence in children]
Next, we explored the ways that these games can inspire violent actions in children. It is believed that even though extreme imitations of these aspects rarely happen, they can cause kids to be more aggressive in their daily lives. Many also believe that exposure to these video games leads to a desensitization of violence in their minds. This lead to the argument by McLuhan that aspect of media are extensions of ourselves and that we would do these actions regardless. This is how these games can negatively affect children.
Finally, we have discussed the ways that the companies try to prevent children from getting these games. The ESRB rates games M for mature if they are not suitable for kids under 18. Despite this, many of them are still able to get ahold of them. James Carey, who believed in societies need for maintenance, would not approve of the way that children are getting video games that are rated mature. Because of this, he would say that they have to be kept away from kids and that it would be a societal effort. This is how the issue of violence in video games is being handled and should be improved on.
Collier, Joel E., et al. "Exposure of Violent Video Games to Children and Public Policy Implications." Journal of Public Policy & Marketing, vol. 27, no. 1, Spring 2008, pp. 107-112. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1509/jppm.27.1.107.
Hartmann, Tilo, et al. "How Violent Video Games Communicate Violence: A Literature Review and Content Analysis of Moral Disengagement Factors." Communication Monographs, vol. 81, no. 3, Sept. 2014, pp. 310-332. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/03637751.2014.922206.
“Violent Video Games - ProCon.Org.” Do violent video games contribute to youth violence?, https://videogames.procon.org/
Carey, James W. “James Carey: Communication as Culture.” Carey: Views of Communication, faculty.georgetown.edu/irvinem/CCTP748/Carey-summary-comm-culture.html.
Hilgard, Joseph. "Video Game Violence and Aggression: A Proven Connection?." Significance, vol. 13, no. 5, Oct. 2016, pp. 6-7.