Times when children would spend their entire free time playing with peers in the streets have mostly gone. Modern children and teenagers prefer calmer forms of entertainment, such as watching television, or in a large degree, playing video games. Although video games can contribute to a child’s development, many of them, unfortunately, are extremely violent. Moreover, games propagating murder and violence, such as Mortal Kombat, Outlast, Grand Theft Auto, and so on, are popular and are being advertised everywhere, making teenagers willing to play them; the fact that they are marked by the ESRB (Entertainment Software Rating Board) does not help much. However, considering the nature of such games, they should not be allowed for teens to play.
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For the human brain, there is no big difference between a real-life situation, and an imaginary one; this is why we get upset even if we think about something unpleasant. For children and teens, who usually have a rich imagination, everything is even more intense. Virtual experiences for them may feel as real as daily life; this happens due to advanced technologies, making computer graphics look extremely close to reality, and also because players take a first-person role in the killing process (often with the view “from a character’s eyes”). If they would passively watch a violent game, it would make less harm than acting as a character who makes progress through a plot by murdering people and destroying what is in the character’s path. This situation is negative, as a child’s or teen’s brain forms new connections every day—they actually learn and memorize what is going on in their favorite games (HuffingtonPost).
Moreover, violent games directly reward violent behavior; many modern games do not simply make make players kill virtual reality characters of other players online, but also grant them with scores (experience) or points for successful acts of violence. These points are usually spent on making a player’s character even more efficient in killing, unlocking new cruel ways of murdering, and so on. Sometimes, players will be even praised directly, verbally; for example, in many online shooters, after conducting a killing, players hear phrases like “Nice shot!” encouraging further violence. This is much worse than watching TV, as TV programs do not offer a reward directly tied to the viewer’s behavior, and do not praise viewers for doing something anti-social (ITHP).
According the American Psychological Association, violent video games increase children’s aggression. Dr. Phil McGraw explains, “The number one negative effect is they tend to inappropriately resolve anxiety by externalizing it. So when kids have anxiety, which they do, instead of soothing themselves, calming themselves, talking about it, expressing it to someone, or even expressing it emotionally by crying, they tend to externalize it. They can attack something, they can kick a wall, they can be mean to a dog or a pet.” Additionally, there’s an increased frequency of violent responses from children who play these kinds of video games (Roanna Cooper).
Unfortunately, many modern games incorporate violence. Having youth play these video games are dangerous, as teenagers and children usually take a first person role in the killing process, and even get rewarded or praised for doing so. According to numerous studies, this leads to an increase of aggression in them.
John, Laura St. “8 Ways Violent Games Are Bad for Your Kids.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2015.
“The Effects of Violent Video Games. Do They Affect Our Behavior?” ITHP. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2015.
“Children and Violent Video Games.” Dr. Phil.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2015.
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