How many times a day do our children ask us for something and we so quickly reply, “No” without second guessing it or even listening to the whole question? A million and one times, right? Most children play video games, and regardless of how we parent there usually will come a time when our child asks us, “Mommy/Daddy can I get the Call of Duty game everyone is playing?”, or whichever violent video game is in at the moment.
Now, if you are like me, the first image that pops into your head is gruesome and sternly reply, “no” thinking of all the negative effects such games could have on a child’s development. Yet, what if you flipped your thinking cap to the positive outcomes from popular violent video games instead. In fact, popular violent video games can be used as income or career starters, increase prosocial behaviors, and heighten cognitive functions.
First, one huge benefit of playing violent video games is the opportunity for great success in lifetime careers. My husband has made his career that started from his love with violent video games. The first violent video game that began his obsession was at age 13, the ever so popular, Call of Duty, a game in which it is based around first-person gun action. Over time his video games obsession lead him to learn so much about informational technology (IT) he joined the national guard specializing in IT.
After completing a few tours over sees and his years of active duty he had acquired positions leading to his current job as Director of Infrastructure but get this, he has never attended college! Joel Lee, editor and chief of MakeUseOf expresses some of the ways to do so including, “live streaming, guides, podcasts, competitive gaming, and game testing” (Lee 2017). Jurica Dujmovic, a columnist for Market Watch published an article explaining how much some millennials make streaming on Twitch and Youtube. Quite surprisingly, a gamer can earn between $3,000 to $10,000 a month from live streaming (Dujmovic 2017). My husband would usually sell his character when he was done playing a game for a profit between $400-$1,200.
Another benefit to playing violent video games is the increase in prosocial environments. In most violent video games players work in teams in order to destroy their enemies. “An enemy has been slain”, is a constant voice I hear in my head from the game, Mobile Legends my husband plays on his cell phone. During the game nine other players from around the world join into a match to slay an enemy. Seth Gitter et al. researchers for the Department of Psychology at Auburn University, conducted a research in which, “participants played one of two zombie‐killing games or a nonviolent control game.
In one of the zombie games, players had to save their friends from zombies, and in another the teams killed zombies for pure sport” (Gitter 2013). In conclusion, the results showed that, “morally ambiguous violent games also led to higher levels of prosocial thought than the nonviolent game” (Gitter 2013). Some players do not see themselves as in a violent environment but, rather as doing good through saving the towns people from a zombie attack which, in turn can increase their self-perception and self-esteem. Children and teens now-a-days have many issues with self-acceptance and bullying that video games and the social environment could help to alleviate.
Last but not least, playing violent video games can improve cognitive functions such as critical thinking capabilities, heightening concentration, and improving motor skills. Simone Kühn et al. from the Department of Experimental Psychology and Ghent Institute for Functional and Metabolic Imaging conducted a research study of, “152 14-year old adolescents using magnetic resonance imaging scans (MRIs) to estimate cortical thickness” (Kühn 2014).
They found, “a positive correlation between self-reported hours of video gaming per week and cortical thickness” (Kühn 2014). They did not find a decrease in cortical thickness with any of the participants. Kühn also included, “the findings by Green and colleagues establish a causal relationship between action video game experience and improved probabilistic inference” (Kühn 2014). Improving cognitive functions can help children to learn better in school and everyday life!
Overall, many violent video games should be perceived as having positive results rather than just be regarded as horrific events that can negatively affect a child’s development. Many of the popular violent video games have encouraging endings if you look at them in a new light. Creating a higher prosocial environment through teamwork play can also lead to better communication skills, trust, and cooperative behavior. Children can also increase their cognitive functions that could help them improve how they learn.
Don’t forget the potential of your 13 year old bringing in thousands of dollars a month, who could be upset at that?! As parents, we tend to search for all the negatives that could come from our children involving themselves in certain activities, yet, we could use video games to bond with our children. Which, in turn, could help us with understanding more about them and keep them out of real life negative events and crime. So, I say, why not just join them?