While playing video games has recently become a very popular activity, debate has arisen concerning the relationship between the violence in video games and violence in real life. Both the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) and the American Psychological Association (APA) state that it is probable that video games cause violence. Furthermore, both believe that video games and children should not go together. Still, however, the psychological community has mixed opinions regarding whether or not violence in video games can cause violent behavior.
The Evidence That Suggests That Violence in Video Games and Violent Behavior Are Linked
While the APA admits that some scientific studies show very little connection between video games and violence, it notes that an overall analysis of all relevant studies demonstrate that video games are violence are related. In fact, the APA goes as far as to conclude that “violent video game effect sizes are larger than the effect of second hand smoke on lung cancer, the effect of lead exposure to I.Q. scores in children, and calcium intake on bone mass.” Furthermore, the APA states that everyone can be affected by playing violent video games, even those who are supposedly less at risk of being influenced. Therefore, the APA concludes that violence in video games is a significant risk factor for violent behavior.
Furthermore, the AACAP concludes that video games and children should not go together. The AACAP points out that many studies suggest that children can become “immune” to violence as a result of playing video games. This effect makes children more likely to try to resolve problem by violence and to express violent behavior in general. Therefore, the AACAP concludes that violence in video games can negatively affect psychological development in children.
Some Evidence That Suggests Video Games Do Not Cause Violent Behavior
Some experts at Harvard University’s Medical School, however, believe that violence in video games does not cause violent behavior. They point out that research done at Rutgers University suggests that most children are not affected by video games; only children that were already at a high risk of expressing violent behavior due to certain personality traits, such as the trait of acting impulsively, seemed to be at risk for displaying violent behavior due to the violence in video games. The skeptics at Harvard also point out that many people, boys in particular, may play video games in order to compete and avoid boredom. This behavior is normal for psychological development; thus video games may provide another way for the younger generations to grow up mentally. Still, these experts at Harvard do admit that video games can be harmful if a child is allowed to play violent video games excessively.
My Experience with Video Games
I used to be a hardcore video gamer that would often play over five hours a day. Sometimes I would be in front of the TV for almost all of my waking hours. Yet, I have not ever expressed any unusual violent behavior; in fact, I consider myself rather pacifistic. The only time I have ever used any form of violence was in a controlled setting while I attended a martial arts academy, but that is, of course, normal. While I do believe that video games could cause violence in some cases, video games are not a hugely significant risk factor for violent behavior, in my opinion. The values that a person grows up with and the innate personality of that person may be far more significant relevant factors.
In conclusion, there is mixed evidence regarding whether or not video games cause violence in real life. It is probably best to take the safer route and limit young children’s exposure to video games — violent video games and children certainly should not mix. Until the debate is settled in the future, we will have to use common sense when dealing with the issue of video games and violence.