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A Study of the Effects of Computer/video Games on Children in the United States

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Kentonia Smith

Assignment: Argumentative/Persuasive Essay

16FL-KG601-144- Research & Critical Analysis

Monroe College

Computer/Video Games- Bad for children?

A study of the effects of Computer/Video games on children in the United States

We all have played games of some sort in our childhood; it was really just a natural evolution with the advent of technology for games to become electronic, in the form of computer/video games.  “Video games are the future. From education and business, to art and entertainment, our industry brings together the most innovative and creative minds to create the most engaging, immersive and breathtaking experiences we’ve ever seen.”, Gallagher M.D., 2016 President and CEO, of the Entertainment Software Association.  The sentiments expressed here by Gallagher is not necessarily a popular one.   The effect of computer/video games on children and adolescents continues to be a contentious subject, with a wide cross section of people, unlike Gallagher, believing that computer/video games are detrimental to the development of the child.  The main reason why so many oppose the use of computer/video games for children and adolescents is that they believe that these games corrupt the brain, more so the violent games, and encourages children to become violent or display extreme anti-social behaviour.   As the world is becoming more technology savvy and children as early as one (1) year old are equipped with technological gadgets that exposes them at the tender age to computer/video games, the issue becomes more and more of a growing concern that needs to be addressed.

 The Entertainment Software Association, (ESA), 2016, reports that 63 per cent of U.S. households are home to at least one person who plays video games regularly (3 hours or more per week), 65 per cent own a device used to play video games, 37 per cent of these game players are under the age of 18 years, playing games at least an average of 13.2 hours per week.  Whilst there is some scientific support for the view that computer/video games are bad for children and adolescent, this paper will present a counter argument along with scientific support of the benefits to the development of the child from playing computer/video games.  Playing computer/video games has a greater positive effect, more specifically in developing children’s and adolescents’ cognitive skills and if parental control/guidance is present, the negative effects of prolific use of violent computer/video games will be averted.

Parents need to be conscious of the effects of computer/video games in order to raise moral and empathetic children by extension making the world a better place.  The issue has been the subject making a media frenzy as parents grasp at reasons why there is an increasing number of children exhibiting heightened violent behaviour or as to why children and young adults are less empathetic to peers and so on.   The increase in school shootings perpetrated by students, Columbine High School in 1999, Virginia Tech in 2007 and Sandhook 2012, for example, lends nothing to lessen parents’ paranoia around the negative effects of computer/video games effects. In order to understand the influence computer/video games can have on the development of our children’s and adolescents’ development, this paper will seek to complete a more balanced analysis of the possible negative effects and more so uncovering the many benefits of playing these games.

Many concerns have emerged from parents, researchers and concerned citizens alike, about the prolific use of computer/video games by children and adolescents in regards to the negative effects, more specifically related to the violence they contain. Manger W, May 2015, lists a few of researcher’s findings on the effect of playing video games and states computer/video games alters the way that “children use their brains, leading to mental illness such as dementia and depression.”  Further the writer points out that research done by the University of Montreal found that “sustained gaming could lead youngsters to neglect parts of their brains, with devastating results?”  The article goes on to quote lead author Dr Gregory West as saying “people who play a lot of action video games could have reduced hippocampal integrity, which is associate with increased risk for neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.”  It is suggested that the violent games involving ‘shoot-’em ups” leave players “desensitised to violence and isolated from the real world.”, (Manger 2015).  Researchers at Ohio State University found that “teenagers who spent long periods playing violent games such as Grand Theft Auto felt exempt from ethical standards the rest of us live by and showed less self-restraint.” (Manger 2015).  All these examples allude to the negative effects that playing video games can have on children and adolescents. Further,  Bushman B., 2013, co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at The Ohio State University, in his research findings claimed that “the results suggest that the risks posed by violent video games goes beyond the well-studied impacts on aggression.  Bushman found that “When people play violent video games, they show less self-restraint. They eat more, they cheat more. It isn't just about aggression, although that also increases when people play games like Grand Theft Auto.”  Simon J, 2016, reviewed a lecture given by psychologist Dr Aric Sigman  stating that “ There are concerns among neuroscientists that this dopamine being produced every single day for many years, through e.g. playing computer games, may change the reward circuitry in a child’s brain and make them more dependent on screen media.”  This proclamation suggests that children may not be able to control the number of hours spend playing computer/video games, as addiction is probable.

Similar claims are echoed by Tumbokon, Chacha, Apr 2014, linking the negative effects of video games to violent content, “Children who play more violent video games are more likely to have increased aggressive thoughts, feelings, behaviours, and decreased prosocial helping”, according to a scientific study (Anderson & Bushman, 2001). The article cites, Dmitri A. Christakis of the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, as stating “those who watch a lot of simulated violence, such as those in video games, can become immune to it, more inclined to act violently themselves, and are less likely to behave emphatically.”   The writer points out that the negative effect of playing computer/video games is worsened due to the “interactive nature” and “kids are in control of the violence, killings, kicking, stabbing and shooting and more so are rewarded for being more violent”.   Many researchers also believe that computer/video games teach children the wrong values, that is aggression vengeance and violent behaviour is rewarded.  Many people also say that kids and adults who play more aggressive video games are more probable to have heightened their aggressive and hard line notions, attitudes and behaviours (Goldstein, 2005). Generally the consensus on the negative impact of computer/ video games centres around the heightened aggression, violence, aloofness, less empathetic behaviour in children.  Anderson & Dill, 2000; Gentile, Lynch & Walsh, 2004, in their study seemed to indicate that violent video games may be related to aggressive behaviour”.   Many individuals view games as taking too much of children’s and adolescents’ time, making them detached from their family and friends and by extension their communities.  In some instances, children and adolescents have even neglected their education in favour of computer/video games.  Furthermore, many complain of the vulgar language and mannerisms being emulated from computer/video games. Studies have shown that the more time a kid spends playing video games, the poorer his performance in school. (Anderson & Dill, 2000; Gentile, Lynch & Walsh, 2004).  There remain psychiatric professionals and community leaders who are championing the ban on computer video games for children and adolescents stemming from the violent nature of these games.  The research to support the negative effects on children and adolescents from playing video/computer games is valid but can be challenged.



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