Video games were first introduced in the 70’s and have taken a drastic change in the way they are being developed now versus when they were introduced. Since the 70’s every decade up until todays games have become more violent natured with strong language, killing, blood, and being realistic. With the increasing demands of more realistic games in today’s society comes more violence that children are exposed to at young ages. Vessey and Lee note that in 1985 there were 100 million dollars in video game sales to now were it exceeds 10 billion dollars a year (2000).
The big change for video games came when they came out with first person shooter games so that way the gamer could see out of the eyes of the virtual person rather than a third person view. Society has changed drastically over the decades since games have been invented. With new technology comes better games; technology has evolved to greater measures than anyone could imagine. With new technology comes better graphics for things to be more realistic in the player’s eyes, which means that games have incorporated more blood, shooting, and crime like behavior.
As technology increases with the next best thing so do games. The inventors of the games are required to keep up with the demand of better games, which means coming out with better games to top the old ones. With games being more violent means that children at younger ages will be exposed to behavior that is not accepted in society. Kids are at a vulnerable developmental time at the age of first being introduced to games. If games are not explained to them that what they see in a game is not real then they could see shooting and killing as a way as solving a problem.
With less supervision children could be at risk from the violent video games to see foul language and stealing as a way of solving problems or a norm in society. Games give off bad messages to unsupervised children that you can solve problems in unhealthy ways. If children are not being supervised appropriately then violent video games could desensitize children.
As technology increases so do the realistic features of a video game; children are seeing violence that they should not be seeing till they are mature nough to handle the graphical content or their cognitive development is more mature. It is not only video games that can desensitize children to violence but the media can also be a factor. Schwartz states, “Media violence is believed to increase aggression, at least in part, by desensitizing viewers to the effects of real violence” (p 95). With children seeing violence in video games and in media this can have an impact on their brains with the repeated exposure giving off a message that violence is acceptable.
In video games there is always a reset button where the person that has died comes back to life and you get another chance at the game; there are no consequences for the player’s actions and everyone comes back to life, such as stealing a car or killing someone. While if children lack a social life and are enthralled into a video game they may believe that this is the way things go. When young kids play video games they are not getting the social or developmental skills that they should be getting at their age because they are in a fantasy world where things go the way they want them to.
Saleem, Anderson, and Gentile state that, “results from these studies suggest that prosocial content in games can in fact increase prosocial behavior in the short and long terms” (p 281). Due to the social learning theory children learn from example imitating and watching behaviors of those around them. Children can learn prosocial skills and antisocial skills from video games; these social skills can have a long and short-term effect on their life skills and what they learn.
Today’s violence is worse than twenty years ago because of what is shown on TV, games, social media, and the news. Children watch shows now were stronger language can be easily accessible versus when Tom and Jerry or the Roadrunner were on TV. For those two shows they never showed them killing each other or had strong language attached to them. Whereas today kids shows such as Spiderman with more crime and violence that is realistic versus animals that are trying to kill one another.
The reason that it is more violent today than then is because shows back then had animals in them that were known as common predators and prey. Whereas today the different shows that kids watch are Iron Man, Avengers, and the Hulk where people are killing other people and they are exposed to a light form of violence. There is no doubt that children play video games in today society so one of the many ways that we can help prevent children from being desensitized by violent video games is by monitoring their playing ime.
Vessey and Lee state, “Video games, a ubiquitous part of today’s world, are the preferred leisure activity for many youth” (p 1). By limiting the amount of time a child gets to play games can help their development skills in many ways. Some of the ways it can help them is that they now have designated times that it is acceptable to play games and for a certain amount of time which helps them develop time management skills. Another way that this can help children is by allotting time for social interaction.
If they cannot be on a source of electronic entertainment then they are forced to socialize with other kids and play outside. Social interaction helps the children develop the social skills that are needed to distinguish between things such as what they see on a video game and what is acceptable outside of the video game. Vessey states, video games aren’t all bad either when it comes do development, video games can help kids with their hand eye coordination, self-directed learning, and therapy (2000).
There are many types of restrictions that come with video games today. Every game has a rating when it comes out that can range from E for everyone, T for teen, to M for mature which is seventeen and up. Entertainment Software Rating Board, or ESRB determines these ratings and how violent or friendly the game is. These suggested restrictions are to advise parents of the recommended age that is appropriate for the particular game and so that way kids that are younger than the suggested rating cannot go out and buy a game out of their age range.
While many games that are violent and show killing, stealing, and have foul language are rated M for mature many parents still buy these games for their younger children. This is all up to the parent’s discretion on what they think that their kids should be playing but if it is out of their age range then they should be monitored closely on what they see and how they interpret it. Vessey and Lee state, “Ideally, adults will discuss the contents of games with children, while ascertaining their ability to separate real-life from media violence and their potential for copying the acts they see” (p 1).
It is very important that adults take the time to teach the children what is only acceptable in a video game and what is actually acceptable in real life. With this very important distinction children will be able to distinguish right from very wrong and help them make smart decisions when it comes to conflict management. A program that can be developed for society as a whole and dealing with violent video games for children is an interactive informational video/game. Kids would be required to watch this video every two years that helps them learn what is socially acceptable in and out of a game.
The way someone would go through this program would be that to play games they must have an active account with this program and play games through it. This would then signal to the program when they need to watch a more up to date tutorial on what is acceptable to take from games and how to handle their emotions if a game makes them mad. It would be an interactive tutorial that the kids would have to play through twice. The first time would be what would you do in real life for this problem and the second would be what would you do in a game.
This would help them differentiate the two and what is acceptable in society. From there the results would be sent to their parents account about any further information that they may need to explain to a child. Some people would go for this program while others would say that their child does not need this. This is why this program would be mandatory for people to have in order to play games at all. The ultimate goal for this program would be for children to not be as susceptible to desensitization of violent video games or media.
The problems that might be generated from this program would be a lose of sales because people do not want to have to go through hoops to play a game; but in all the ultimate goal to help our up coming generations is well worth the time and effort put in. Game play has increased over the years, which concludes that kids are being exposed to more violent video games. Exelmans, Custers, and Van den Bulck state, “Average time spent playing videogames has continuously increased over the past years: from 24 min per day in 1999 to 49 min in 2004, and 73 min in 2009” (p 268).
This means that kids are becoming more sedentary and are spending less time doing physical things such as playing, running, and or after school activities. Game developers would oppose this argument that violent video games desensitize children because that is why there are ratings on the games to suggest a certain age group. Also they would oppose because they would suggest that they are keeping up with today’s new technology and giving people the next best thing which is more realistic games and better graphics.
A previous argument that would suggest that games do indeed desensitize children is that kids are being less supervised on what they are really playing. Exelmans, Custers, and Van den Bulck state, “…Almost 90% of the games contain some violent content…” (p 268). Even though a game might have a lower rating such as T for teen they might still be exposed to violent content. Parents should review the game before they let their children play it to see what the game really has in store so that way they can talk to their child about what they will probably experience.
Where you see time of play going up on video games it will almost mean that supervision is going down because the player is sitting longer and the parent knows what they are doing so they supervise less. Not all video games have the same effect for every child. So therefor it cannot be assumed that violent video games will desensitize all children. Vessey and Lee state that video games can encourage creative thinking and pro-social behaviors while also creating antisocial sedentary life styles (2000).
The message that video games give off can be altered by how the person playing it interprets the message; also effective parenting supervision can help determine how children see a certain type of video game. Some games are made for learning purposes such as Minecraft where you can exercise your creativity side of ones self and build objects. A weakness of violent video games desensitizing children of todays society is what people and cultures consider violent. Violence and what is acceptable in society can change from culture to culture; one culture may think hunting games are violent because you are killing animals.
While another culture could see killing and war games as violent. There is a fine line on what is interpreted as violent for some people and that could be why you see young children playing violent video games. Grand Theft Auto V is an example of a violent game where you can do many things in the game that can be done in real life, but without the consequences. More background research is needed to determine what different cultures determine as violent and to look at the similarities and differences.
That research should be conducted over; at what age are certain things too violent for kids in games such as shooting, killing, drugs, stealing, and foul language. Another place for research that is lacking is effective programs to help kids that don’t get the appropriate parental guidance. Kids need to be talked to at young ages about what is right and wrong and what they see in games and what is socially acceptable. The problems that this proposal could solve would be to not have a world with people who think that crime is acceptable.
It could also solve aggressive behaviors by talking about what you see in the game and how it is not real and it is not ok to carry aggression from a game to the real world. Yang, Huesmann, and Bushman state, “There is substantial evidence that playing a violent video game increases the aggression of the player shortly afterwards” (p 537-38). Having aggression shortly after playing a game could result in poor decisions made by the person affected. This could lead to more hostile events from people such as fighting when someone is angry from a game and it has carried over to the real world.
Different types of games can cause different types of aggression or different levels; there are many type of violent games such as first person shooters/thief games/ and adventure. Hollingdale and Greitemeyer state, “FPSs have been found to significantly increase hostility and aggression from base line levels” (p 2). With these types of video games out there for young children to experience could be a hazard since it is shown that FPSs have a significant increase in hostility. This could be why society today is seeing more violent and thought out mass shootings that have such a high casualty rate.
Violent video games have a huge impact on our young children today and should be watched closely when playing such horrific games. As technology seems to never stop growing so will the games and how violent they get to be. As new generations become exposed to violent material such as video games or media with out correct supervision they could be cognitively harmed in their development. It is important that we as adult remember that children are at a very important developmental time and that they get the guidance that is needed in helping them distinguish what is or is not acceptable out side of a video game.