Violence in video games and children – video games not to blame

Despite the overwhelming studies associating video game violence with desensitization, various studies have argued out the contrary, indicating that video game violence may not actually predict development of aggressive behaviors in children. One category of such studies that support the antithesis is that with studies reporting comparable psychological and physiological responses to real-life violence for violent gamers and non-violent gamers. For instance, Canada, Bowen and Spaniol did not find any significant differences in memory and response biases between violent video game players and non-players (906). In this respect, were the desensitization thesis true, then such differences would have arisen. Such a conclusion arises from the assumption that the desensitization theory makes, that “most humans show an innate negative psychological and physiological reaction to observing violence” (Weber and Kostygina 351). Following such an assumption, the desensitization theory then posits that exposure to violence would attenuate such a response, making individuals exposed to such violence, less concerned of similar violent activities that occur in real life (Weber and Kostygina 351).  For such an association to occur, the participants in the real life would have to remember such observed violence to exhibit such an attenuated response. Accordingly, by finding no significant differences in memory and response lapses between participants exposed to video game violence and those not exposed to such violence, Canada, Bowen and Spaniol’s conclusion holds.   However, the sample used for the study by Canada, Bowen and Spaniol, an undergraduate sample, may not reveal the effect of such video in children, who may be more susceptible due to their still developing brains, which could impair their distinction between video events and real life events.

A second argument in support of the antithesis posits that individuals displaying aggressive tendencies following their engagement in violent video game only do so out of their prior predisposition to such aggression, rather than an effect of the game. For instance, Kutner and Olson observe that “most children who play these [violent video] games are not bullies” (102). Instead, they note that such aggression could arise from confounding factors such as family relationship and failing in school (Kutner and Olson 102). Surprisingly, the authors find that boys who do not game are more likely to engage physical fights as opposed to those who engage in video games, explaining such a case to perhaps be explained by the fact that having a non-gaming boy is highly unusual, probably indicative of socialization deficiencies (101-102). This, as the authors note, arises since most boys appear to engage in gaming as a social activity contrary to the perspective that video game players tend to play in isolation. However, in the same study, the authors find some association of video game playing with aggressive tendencies such as “damaging something for fun” (Kutner and Olson 102).

Similar arguments positing that the video game is only facing blame for behaviors it does not contribute to have been provided by Lovins. In his essay, Lovins argue that video games are not to blame for kid’s corruption (1). Rather, he posits that ignorance, recklessness and foolishness are the causes of the aggressive traits witnessed in some of the video gamers. Additionally, he posits that such video games actually have a positive effect of relieving stress, thus may prevent children engaging in real violence. Similarly, Gee posits that the approach to game, rather than playing the game, is what results in aggressive tendencies in players of violent video game (15). Further, he supports the contention that violent video games help boys to manage their feelings, relieve their anger in such games, thus avoid engaging in real life violence (14). From such contention, it would appear that video game do not desensitize the children to violence in the real life. However, even with such a note, the author agrees that after playing the video games, the players could have emotional urge to play their reveled video game heroes, but that such acting out would require the agreement of “higher order thought processes.” Proceed to the conclusion.

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