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New Evidence on Youth and Violent Video Games

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New Evidence on Youth and Violent Video Games

The article Violence Video Games, Delinquency, and Youth Violence: New Evidence is an article presenting data to show that playing violent video games and having the preference for violent video games is associated with delinquency and violence. (Delisi 2012). This study considered the effects of a battery of links of delinquency including psychopathy. The consumption of violent media by youth can be problematic and youths with pre-existing psychopathology are at risk for the harmful effects of the violent games and media. There is cause for concern because research has shown a cause-effect relationship between television violence and aggression among children who watch it. These children many times are more likely to intimidate the actions of characters that they identify with, in video games they actually participate as a character even choosing weapons with which they will fight. There is definite participation and the repetition of the violence that is involved of this violence can cause a behavioral rehearsal for violent activity. Video games are based on a reward system and rewards increase learning. Although reward for violent actions is a dominant characteristic of many violent video games, some other video games may punish such as shooting hostages, instead of terrorists, however in both instances violence is portrayed. The games directly reward violent behavior, such as awarding points or advancing to the next level. In some games there is even verbal praise such as “great Shot” after killing the enemy. It is well know that rewarding behavior increases its frequency. A good example would be Banduras experiment, although it was television it can be applied to video games. This study demonstrated that participants who viewed a televised character being punished for attacking a “Bobo” doll displayed significantly fewer imitative behaviors than those in a reward or controlled condition. Given the similar nature of violent video games and violent television programming it is reasonable to expect that rewarding violent actions in a game could also increase aggression. (Carnagey 2005). There are differences in television and video games as in video violence the player is rewarded directly where in the television scenario the viewer is not rewarded directly. Therefore the aggression enhancing effects would be immediate and more powerful. There has been a lot of research done in the area of serious, chronic, and violent juvenile delinquents and their personalities and behaviors. They usually possess developed self-regulation behaviors have had juvenile justice system interventions occurring during their childhood, have engaged in delinquent behaviors frequently and struggle to function in school, family, and work demands. Mostly all youth displays a small number of risk factors for externalizing behaviors, the more antisocial youth displays serious, violent, and habitually list of risks for problem behaviors.

There have been many theories of aggressive behavior that have been tested and aid in understanding the learning and brain processes by which media violence can influence aggressive behavior. The General Aggression Model states that violent media exposure desensitizes youth to violence because it contains fearful material that is hidden in positive emotional content. After subjecting someone to this on a regular basis it produces psychological and physiological reductions in fear and anxiety to violence. This process sets in motion cognitive and affective consequences such as decreased perception of injury severity, decreased attention to violent events, no sympathy for the victims and decreased negative attitudes towards violence among others. This can be related to the bystander effect because the densification to violence would make it less likely for someone to intervene when an emergency situation occurs.

These schemas are associated with increased anti-social behaviors including aggression. There has been much controversy in this area and the general assessment is that the media and the violent video games are part of adolescence and that the exposure to it has an apparent effect on delinquency. However some dispute this theory and claim that there is almost no evidence that media violence is related to serious or criminal violence. There aren’t many studies focused on serious delinquency and violence and it is likely that effect diminishes as the aggressive outcome variable becomes more severe. The difference of opinion rests on the fact that they focus on different outcomes. The critics of aggression focuses on violence while the proponents of the research tend to focus on aggression. This area of research often causes debate in policy relating to youth violence and juvenile justice as seen in the U.S. Supreme case that focused on the restriction of violent video games to children without parent permission. In a 7-2 decision the Supreme Court declared that video games can be afforded to the same constitutional projections as visual art, film, music, and other forms of expression.

The aim of the study in this article Violent Video Games, Delinquency, and Youth Violence: New Evidence is to respond to the researcher’s call that aggression should be considered a public health outcome with media violence considered as one of the many risk factors for aggression and youth violence. It was designed to respond to these needs using a multi factored risk factor approach focused on more serious violent delinquent behaviors among a correctional sample of serious male and female institutionalized delinquents. The data was obtained from a nonprobability sample of adolescence youth in two (one male and one female) private nonprofit long term residential placement facility for juvenile offenders. Criteria for the boys included being between 14 and 18 years old and having been in the facility between 3 and 12 months when recruitment started. Data collection at the



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