Understand the role that virtual violence may play in the life of a child

Table of Content

Bang! Pow! Pow! The noise of gunshots echoed through the surround sound speakers as Johnny, a seven-year-old boy, intensely stared at the television set. A bloody mess of dead bodies filled the screen. Although this was one of many video games that Johnny had played that displayed a massive amount of graphic violence, his parents were not alarmed because it was not real. Many months later, as Johnny began his first couple weeks of school, his teacher noticed him acting abnormally rough with other kids and being very short-tempered. Calling a parent-teacher conference, the teacher discussed the issue at hand and inquired about Johnny’s life at home. The parents talked about how he really did not do much other than sit around and play on the computer or Xbox. Asking about the type of games he played, it became evident that perhaps the games were having a negative effect. Like this example, there are many parents and teachers who do not realize that virtual violence can, in fact, result in an increase in aggressive behavior in young children.

In order to understand the role that virtual violence may play in the life of a child, we must first recognize the differences between aggression, violence, and virtual violence. According to Andrea Fabry, aggression is considered the intentional psychological or physical harm to someone who does not wish to be harmed. Going a step further, violence is portrayed as aggression that has been amplified to exact extreme physical harm, like injury or death. This brings us to virtual violence, which is the vicious acts that are not experienced in the flesh but rather through some form of media (Fabry 2016). Different types of media include video games, television shows, movies, even the news. Basically, any kind of media possesses the ability to depict violence.

This essay could be plagiarized. Get your custom essay
“Dirty Pretty Things” Acts of Desperation: The State of Being Desperate
128 writers

ready to help you now

Get original paper

Without paying upfront

The negative effects that violence may have on children’s minds can be observed through their attitudes and behaviors. First, children become desensitized towards violent acts with prolonged exposure (Bushman 2018). After seeing enough vicious acts, no matter how fake they appear, the children become accustomed to these atrocious deeds. Violence becomes a part of their everyday experience. Second, in some circumstances, PTSD is known to occur. This entirely depends on the child and how his mind works. However, it has been known to happen and can eventually lead to alcohol or substance abuse due to the trauma. Some children are more sensitive than others and can be drastically affected by distinct images (HealthyChildren.org 2016). Third, children can become increasingly aggressive, aggravated, and over-all angry, causing them to become short-tempered and violent against their peers.

Virtual violence may also lead to children having a difficult time socially and academically. There have been many cases where the attention span of the child has decreased, creating a stumbling block when focusing and learning. Children with prolonged access to virtual violence were also found quick to react negatively towards peers, resulting in the lack of the ability to find friends. Because of the child’s destructiveness, many of his peers may have a tendency to segregate from him, causing the feelings of loneliness and anger, thus, fueling the fire of aggression even further. The child may also respond in like manner towards authority figures, increasing frustration among teachers and parents and creating a disconnect between the authority figure and the child.

A science exists behind the madness that explains how a virtual act of violence impacts a young child’s behavior so drastically. A study done by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center’s Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging Research Center proved that the brain was, in fact, altered when the test subjects were introduced to violent images and video clips. Columbia’s scientists, “show that a brain network responsible for suppressing behaviors like inappropriate or unwarranted aggression (including the right lateral orbitofrontal cortex, or right ltOFC, and the amygdala) became less active after study subjects watched several short clips from popular movies depicting acts of violence. These changes could render people less able to control their own aggressive behavior… A secondary finding was that after repeated viewings of violence, an area of the brain associated with planning behaviors became more active. This lends further support to the idea that exposure to violence diminishes the brain’s ability to inhibit behavior-related processing (CUMC 2007).” These findings were not present in the subjects who watched non-violent, albeit, just as stimulating movie clips.

However, many factors come into play in reference to virtual violence having an undesirable effect on the youth. First, the age of the child can impact how the media will influence his mind (TNM 2016). Many researchers suggest that children under the age of six should not be subjected to the display of violent acts. Second, the duration of time spent engulfed in such media may determine to what extent the child’s mind might be altered. Children who have invested many hours of playing games or watching movies with violence are more affected than those who only have a short period of time invested. Third, the type of violence within the game or video may also persuade the behavior (Pulse 2016). Fourth, the lack of realistic repercussions and consequences in the virtual realm can set up unrealistic outlooks in the mind of a young child.

Many researchers claim that virtual violence alone does not negatively impact the players’ or the observers’ mindsets. According to Zawn Villines, some researchers believe that it is the time spent engulfed in virtual violence that is the problem, not the violence itself (Villines 2015). Others propose that the observational research on subjects engaging in virtual violence is inconclusive. The effects that occur most definitely depend on the individual child, although that does not mean that the majority do not suffer in some way from the observed violence. Violent media may not require a long time in order for significant effects on the child’s mindset to be detected. A four-year-old child could watch one minute of a scary scene in a movie and have nightmares about it three weeks down the road.

All is not lost! Many steps exist to battling the effects of virtual violence on the youth. First, eliminating violent content for those under the age of six can help to decrease its influence. By the age of six most children are capable of understanding the differences between real and not real as well as what is good and what is not. Second, parents should be conscious of the content within their children’s video games and movies. It is impossible for parents to protect their children from every harmful thing in this world. However, that means they must be vigilant in protecting their children in every reasonable way possible. This may mean that the parent has to pause or stop a violent movie or game that he was enjoying because his child entered the room. Sacrifices might have to be made in the name of protecting one’s child. Third, something as simple as the parents being present works to counteract any negative sway virtual violence may have on the child. It is vital for parents to be active in participating with their children when it comes to media. When something negative is removed, one cannot just leave the space blank. It needs to be replaced by something that has a positive effect. By presenting their child with age-appropriate educational programs or movement songs, parents get involved and become positive role models (HealthyChildren 2016).

Although many factors may exist to whether virtual violence will offer a negative effect to a young child, impacting a child’s mindset after only one observance of the act can occur. With all the ways to help prevent and counteract unwanted influences, the best course of action is to simply not expose a child to that experience. Parents, teachers, babysitters, and essentially anyone who is in charge of a child’s well-being should seek to fill the mind with positive, educational, and encouraging material. With the prevalence of virtual violence influencing the behavior of a child, especially in regards to aggression, it is important to remain vigilant of what is set in front of the eyes of future generations.

Cite this page

Understand the role that virtual violence may play in the life of a child. (2022, Jul 17). Retrieved from


Remember! This essay was written by a student

You can get a custom paper by one of our expert writers

Order custom paper Without paying upfront