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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Are Video Games Having a Negative Impact on American Culture?

Are Video Games Having a Negative Impact on American Culture?

Video games are a multi-billion dollar industry, beating out movies and DVDs in revenue. With games like “Grand Theft Auto V” and “Battlefield 4” being so popular, a question can arise: What these games are actually feeding into the minds of the players to be so popular? A game merely having the name “Grand Theft Auto” does not imply that the game is full of positive references. The game let’s the player do nearly anything criminally possible that they want, with no real-life penalty. Some may view this as a stress reliever for troubled children, while others view it as warping the minds of kids to become delinquents.
In this picture from Grand Theft Auto V a drive-by shooting upon a group of adolescents is depicted.

Incidents such as the Newtown, Connecticut shooting, in which the shooter was declared to be an active Call of Duty player, may lead people to believe that video games are harmful to society. Is this statement true, though? Scientists have not come to a conclusion to whether these violent video games have a negative affect on kids or not. Some say it could take twenty to thirty years to resolve the question. It may be possible though, to analyze the known facts and form a logical solution.

One study was comprised of 70 young adults, who played either violent or non-violent video games for 25 minutes. After playing the games, each subject’s brain wave activity was analyzed as they were shown violent and non-violent pictures. The young adults who had played a violent game had a smaller brain response to violent pictures as opposed to those who had played a non-violent game. It is suggested that those who played a violent game were desensitized to violence, leading to more aggressive behavior. It is said that if the brain becomes too desensitized to any one thing, it can result in long-term changes.

On the other hand, a study was performed by Ferguson and Olson. This study consisted of 377 American children averaging thirteen years of age, from various ethnic groups, and having known attention deficit or depression disorders. After the children played violent video games they were analyzed, but according to Ferguson “We found no evidence that violent video games increase bullying or delinquent behavior among vulnerable youth with clinically elevated mental health symptoms. Statistically speaking it would actually be more unusual if a youth delinquent or shooter did not play violent video games, given that the majority of youth and young men play such games at least occasionally.”

 Which of these tests can be considered true? Both tests consist of factual evidence, but neither one can be considered a reliable source on whether or not to let a child play violent video games. In the end, the parent should judge whether or not their child should play violent or otherwise questionable video games based on the particular child’s behavior and reactions to various circumstances.