Through advancements in technology in the 21st century, people of all walks of life can now access various forms of media. Different types of media shape the current society that we live in. One of them is gaming, a common activity for the youths of today. This activity is a source of joy for many, and it provides many benefits to players. Some include de-stressing and improvement in hand-eye coordination.
However, with the evolution of gaming and the increase in the number of people playing violent video games over the years, it is starting to become crystal clear that game violence may prove to be a double-edged sword for youths and children. It has given rise to a colossal issue on how game violence negatively affects youths and children. According to a report by Susan Scutti from CNN news, President Donald Trump said, ‘I’m hearing more and more people saying the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts.’
A report by the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) stated that 64% of US households own a device that they use to play video games. Gamers aged 18 or older represent more than 70 percent of the video-gaming playing population. Also, 60 percent of Americans play video games daily. Another report by the ESA stated that out of the nine best-selling video game genres of 2017, shooter games turned out to be the most successful.
According to the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), an analysis conducted in 2017 showed that out of the 1,948 ratings assigned by ESRB in 2017, around half of the gamers are only suitable for teenagers or older. Therefore, these statistics highlight the prevalence of video gaming among youths currently as well as the rise of violent video games on the market.
Currently, the younger generation also has convenient access to online games. Some online gaming sites have checks that are unlikely to protect youths from age-restricted content. Examples include relying on the user confirming they are over the minimum age or asking the user to simply give a date of birth. Gamers can easily create fake accounts that provide false information about themselves which enable them to bypass the checks. Such games include Call Of Duty: Black Ops, Medal Of Honour and Dead Rising
The National Institute of Media and the Family discovered that almost 90% of youths play games rated Mature. In 2003, the Federal Trade Commission discovered that 69% of teenagers were able to buy Mature-rated video games – granting them convenient access to images adults would consider offensive.
The Media Has Embedded Values And Points Of View. With regards to gaming, The potential message that it may spread is that violence is always a necessity to solve problems. One of many examples is the Resident Evil game franchise. Resident Evil is a survival horror video game where the players have to shoot, stab and kill their way through hordes of zombies to survive. These games are then later adapted for the big screen, and as of today, there is a total of six films in the Resident Evil film franchise.
Such games will cause children and youths to believe that violence is a way to solve problems. Therefore, they will act out violently in times of crises when more peaceful methods can be employed. Thus, it is likely that they will hurt their loved ones.
Another message that these violent games might convey is that there are little to no consequences to violent acts regardless of whether they are perpetrated by the hero or the villain in the story. This may result in children and youths idolising these characters in such violent video games. Studies associate playing such violent games with a higher tolerance of violence, reduced empathy as well as increased aggression.
Compared with males who have not played violent video games, males who do play them are 67 percent more likely to engage in violent deviant behaviour, 63 percent more likely to commit a violent crime or a crime with relations to violence. Therefore gaming has inappropriate messages and values that are unhealthy to children and youths as it will negatively impact them.
The Powerful Effects Theory states that media has an immediate and direct influence on its audience. It says that media can inject messages into you instructing you what to believe and what to do like a hypodermic needle. It has the power to influence our perceptions, telling us what to believe in and how to behave. In the year 2000, a research was conducted to examine the effects of violent video games on aggressive cognitions.
Undergraduates were divided into two and these two groups of people played different games. The first group played an intense first-person shooter called Wolfenstein 3D while the other played Myst, a non-violent 3D walkthrough game. Next, the participants completed the reading reaction time task. A total of 192 words was presented on the screen one at a time.
These words were divided into four categories: 24 aggression words, 24 anxiety words, 24 escape words, and 24 control words. Each word appeared twice. As soon as each word appeared, participants are required to say it aloud as soon as possible. Quicker reaction times indicates that a word is more cognitively accessible.
The reaction time of aggressive words, as compared to the others, served as the measure of aggressive cognition. It turned out that participants who had played the violent video game demonstrated greater accessibility to aggressive cognitions as compared to those who had played the other game, as proven by the reading reaction time.
This is, therefore, an indication of the Powerful Effects Theory as the report shows that subconsciously, individuals react in a negative manner to violent games almost immediately after a short period of exposure
In conclusion, as proven by the aforementioned studies and reports, they show that violent games impact children and youths mentally and negatively. Also, such impacts may occur without them knowing. It alters their perception of the world and the way they behave towards others. This proves that violent gaming impacts children and youths negatively and that violent media is a negative source of entertainment.