Video gaming is a contemporary trend in every household. Playing games acts as a social platform; most children have fun and connect through video games. Although playing video games may elevate children’s health and social skills, violent video game exposure is associated with aggressive consequences (Greitemeyer 4). Violent video games significantly elevate the convenience of aggressive and hostile thoughts. The hostile and aggressive characters are always accessed in the cross-sectional and experimental studies (Greitemeyer 4). The cross-sectional studies are used in developmental psychology and character assessment; the particular group selected is examined for a specific variable of interest while other factors are held constant. Most children develop their characters depending on the environment they live in. When a child is constantly exposed to violent video gaming, they are likely to translate their virtual life into the real world. According to Chang and Bushman, approximately 50 children and teenagers are shot with firearms daily in the United States. 10% of the firearm accidents result from the children finding the loaded and unsecured gun (2). In comparing mortality due to firearms in the United States and other countries, 10% of the children are likely to get killed unintentionally in the united states (Chang and Bushman 2). The percentage is high, and according to the research, it is mainly triggered by the curiosity built from video gaming.
One critical way for people to learn is through direct observation or experience. Individuals who engage in violent video games closely note and copy the behaviors of the models. The model to be imitated can either be an actual individual or a virtual figure from gaming or movies watched. Modeling is productive on numerous occasions when the practice involves potentially jeopardizing consequences. The individuals take chances to experiment with the restorative procedure and check their outcomes. Imitation of the model depends on how frequently the individual gets exposed to the particular model; the more frequently the person interacts with the model, the more they internalize its behavior and imitate its characters (Chang and Bushman 2). When a child constantly gets exposed to violent video games, there are high possibilities of internalizing and imitating the character.
Although video gaming is the current trend in every home, the history of video games dates back to early scientists and scholars. The scholars were determined to create a platform that would get rid of idleness and engage the individual. Currently, a debate about video games isn’t complete without including the negative impact on the particular individual. Most research on the effect of playing violent video games focuses mainly on aggression as a mental health impact (Tortolero et al. 2). The studies omit some of the substantial adverse effects of violent video games, such as depression (Tortolero et al. 2). Although numerous studies have been conducted on violent video games, it is critical to exploit all the negative implications of violent video games to get a clear picture of the actual impact on the gamers.
A critical characteristic of every gamer is empathy. Every individual who engages in violent video games puts themselves in the model’s shoes. Depending on the character in the picture, the individual tries to imitate the model, which may ultimately affect their belief and esteem. Different games have a different view of the character in the virtual setting; when portrayed as superior and dominant, the male believes that an ideal setting should be incorporated with chauvinism (Gabbiadini et al. 3). Depending on the individual’s setup, one can exclusively have aggression as the negative effect of gaming. Some situations like an individual with a low-income family environment develop both direct and indirect effects of aggression and normative beliefs. This paper discusses the harmful effects of violent video games; the paper infers to prior research experiments that prove the adverse effects of violent video games.
Over the decade, there has been constant research on the correlation between aggression in children and adolescents and violent video games. The studies often compare the individuals exposed to violent video games and those seldom involved in the gaming. The social networking analyses depict elevated aggression in those children involved in violent video games. The aggression does not only affect themselves but also spreads to both the mates and individuals surrounding them (Greitemeyer 4). Every gamer has a social network that includes those actively involved in the gaming and the passive individual that only watches. According to Greitemeyer, psychologists and the public are more perturbed that violent video games significantly trigger increased aggression (5). Due to the widespread accessibility of violent video games, the negative impact of violent video game exposure (VVE) is amplified considering the numerous individuals involved. The negative effect also applies to the social network created by the players of the violent video game exposure.
The aggression developed by the VVE spreads to those around them, and the social network may sometimes end up more aggressive than the individual involved. A psychological construct in the realm of behaviors, the cognitive character domain can spread from one individual to another. For instance, when individuals are obsessed with a particular matter, they have a 57% chance of influencing those around them (Greitemeyer 5). Phenomena such as smoking, cooperative behaviors, voting, and happiness are diverse and often spread in social networks. Therefore, violent video games can be contagious, and one can develop the urge to play a violent video game if the people surrounding them are involved. The same applies to aggression which negatively impacts social lives. According to the study on classical models of frustration-aggression and cognitive neoassociation models, the definitive cause of aggression is provocation.
According to the research conducted by Greitemeyer on the negative effect of violent video games, 998 individuals participated (4). The research was aimed at describing how violent video game promotes aggression. The participants also participated in egocentric social networking; they answered a questionnaire on the effect of violent video games on aggression and how VVE has negatively impacted the social network. The participants completed a questionnaire that contained 10 items to assess their aggressive behaviors. Each item contained a rating scale from 1 (never) to 5 (more often). In the second part of the study, the participants were required to fill out a questionnaire on how often they played violent video games on a 7-point scale ranging from 1 (never) to 7 (very often). The outcome showed that the leading cause of the aggression was the violent video games the participants were constantly playing (Greitemeyer 6). The study showed that the aggression was high in both the active participants and their friends, suggesting a spread of aggression from the participants of violent video games and individuals surrounding them. Although the video game is considered one of the most modern advancements, it affects both the participant’s aggression and the individuals surrounding the person. From the study, there is a higher possibility of the aggression to spread from the player to the surrounding persons. Most psychological constructs are fueled by the participant’s belief in the VVE and their friend’s influence. Violent video games can affect the public through social networks; hence, the impact is felt due to the more excellent coverage, even with a bit of aggression.
Violent video games also promote masculine beliefs. Most video games have been criticized for depicting gender; often, video games have a stereotypical view of gender roles. Most games thrive on hyper-masculinity; games that suggest both genders are violent are likely to endorse a view of masculinity, including dominance, chauvinism, and suppression of emotions. Empathy is an emotional response to an individual’s circumstances. It Is a vital characteristic of prosocial behavior (Gabbiadini et al. 4). Numerous researches have shown that constant playing of violent video games reduces empathy and makes an individual insensitive to pain and suffering. In some video games, the female characters are viewed differently; some violent video games depict females as vital and characters developed can fight for themselves, while some popular video games, such as Grand Theft auto, depict females as exclusively objects exploited for sexual satisfaction. The dominant character is revealed as hyper-masculine and aggressive. Such depiction affects the societal view of gender, and females may start developing male behavior, which may be portrayed in the real world. The male characters in violent video games get rewarded for committing a vice rather than being punished.
Violent sex-typed videos have a negative impact on the real world. Most humans are emotional beings and are bound to empathize a counter with a violent sex-typed video game that may alter their perception (Gabbiadini et al. 4). For example female, that play violent video games involving sexual harassment are likely to be tolerant when faced with such encounters in the real world. Instead of standing up for themselves, they perceive themselves as sexual objects. Gamers develop an emotional attachment with the virtual character in the game. For instance, a player that takes a primary shooter role in a military associated game and successfully finishes the mission will afterward develop a passion for the military profession; the same applies to one actively involved in racing or football gaming, ultimately they develop a connection with their respective games (Gabbiadini et al. 5). Gabbiadini et al. researched whether having a connection to a particular character in the video game would ultimately lead to reduced empathy toward female violence casualties (2). The research drew a theoretical framework to demonstrate the effect of masculine belief on empathy. The research concluded that most individuals exposed to violent video games often have reduced empathy and adopt masculine beliefs.
The media portray men as socially stable and physically violent. Such assumptions project in the real world and can be demonstrated in how they treat women. Traditionally, men are expected to be strong, dominant, and aggressive; they are supposed to suppress their feelings and be assertive. “Real men” do not show empathy. Nonetheless, some emotions such as anger are encouraged. The media depiction leads to masculine belief as individuals feel powerful and of high status. Violent, sexist video games interfere with individuals’ ability to feel for others and elevate vices such as rape as individuals view females as sex toys rather than actual human beings. Gabbiadini et al. researched the short-term effect of playing violent- sexist video games on empathy for female violence victims, and 154 Italian volunteers participated. The participants played random violent, sexist video games such as GTA San Andreas, half-life 1 and 2, Dream pinball. Half-life is a shooter game where the player and the character have similar visuals of the object (Gabbiadini et al. 6). The female character in the game is portrayed in a non-sexual manner compared to violent video games such as GTA, which portrays females as sexual toys. The participants were to watch an introductory video then pursue a specific mission. After the missions, the participants were to be tested randomly on their masculine beliefs and how much empathy they portrayed for the victims of violence. The participants were shown a picture of a boy violating teenage girls and were asked how much sympathy they felt (Gabbiadini et al. 6). The participants were also checked for video game manipulation by checking their opinion on violent video games and nonviolent games. The research showed a close correlation between violent video games and masculine beliefs. Most participants identified themselves with the characters in the video games, which was associated with masculine beliefs.
Violent video games can numb an individual to a real-life crisis. Most of the participants were desensitized about real-life situations from the research conducted. When shown the picture of a victim in a crisis, most seemed not to be moved or empathize with the whole satiation. The cause of the dwindled empathy is due to the masculine belief. When individuals are subjected to a violent video game, they tend to develop an attachment with the character. Since most characters are male, show aggression power, are strong and are insensitive to pain, the individual transposes the character into the real world, interfering with their empathy level (Gabbiadini et al. 13). It is also noteworthy that the presentation of a specific character is vital for every video game; video game directly influences individual belief since it offers both visual and active participation. Therefore, participants tend to capture and utilize the ideas derived from the game.
Dangerous behavior with actual weapons
Constant exposure to violent video games jeopardizes the behavior of children and adolescents around firearms. Most violent video games, such as Grand Theft auto mine craft, use firearms as the primary weapon. When the significant children time is playing such violent videos, it elevates their risk of using the actual firearms. Many factors influence whether the child might use the unsecured firearm when they find it at home. A randomized clinical trial study conducted in 2017 involved 104 children who were allowed to watch 20minues clips with or without guns. The children were then monitored with the gun toys in a room with a camera (Chan and Bushman 8). The room contained one actual disabled gun. The study revealed that children who watched clips with guns held the gun for a long time and pulled the actual trigger in imitating the clip. The study is the same for children involved in violent video games; children watching violent videos are more likely to attempt to use the gun when found unsecured.
In 2017, Chan and Bushman also conducted an experiment to establish whether or not children’s exposure to violent video games elevates risky behavior around firearms. The experiment was set due to high mortality rates of children among affluent families due to unintentional firearm use (Chan and Bushman 18). The experiment was conducted among children aged between 8 and 12. Two hundred forty-two children were tested, out of the number 76 children that played the violent video games touched the actual handgun; out of 74children that were exposed to the sword, 56.8% touched the handgun, and only 44.3% of the children that were involved in nonviolent video game touched the handgun (Chan and Bushman 14). A critical observation was children exposed to violent video games were more likely to shoot themselves than those who participated in nonviolent video games. The act was due to chronic exposure to the violent video that triggered aggressiveness.
The children spend most of the time handling real gun because the time spent in violent video games translate to shooting and handling gun compared to other games. The act is related to the social learning theory and that most children engage more actively with their experience. Encountering violent video games may result in short-term behaviors; however, habitual exposure leads to the risk of the children.
A significant negative impact of the violent video game is depression. Depression can be elucidated as severe dejection. To actively discuss the negative effect of violent video games, Tortolero et al. correlated consistent playing of violent video games and depression in young adults. The studies were conducted between three United States cities, and the data was obtained from 5,147 fifth grade students and their predominant caregivers between 2004 to 2006 (Tortolero et al. 4). While other factors such as gender, race, ethnicity, peer victimization, witnessing violence, household income, family structure, and being threatened with violence are kept, constant linear regression was done to establish a correlation between violent video exposure and several dejection symptoms.
The research exploited six items to determine the depressive symptoms. The items included lack of pleasure, lack of interest in activities, low self-esteem, suicidal ideation for the past year, concentration on difficulties, and low energy (Tortolero et al. 18). The conclusion was reached based on the items picked on by the participants. The research discovered that students who played high violent video games for more than two hours daily had more depressive symptoms than those involved in nonviolent video games for less than two years per day. Although the magnitude of disparity was small, the researchers concluded a close relationship between violent video games. Individuals who are constantly involved in violent video are more susceptible to depression.
Sleep and declarative memory
Sleep is an essential requirement for every human being. It is a natural state of the body that is signified by an alteration of consciousness. The memory needs to recollect itself and function properly. According to Hartmann et al., the elevated subjection to artificial light and the thrilling nature of constant play impairs sleep (2). With the diverse spread of electronic use among young adults, most male figures spend the better part of their evening playing video games. It is, therefore, necessary for the adolescent to thoroughly understand the significance of enough sleep and the adverse effect of prolonged video gaming on memory. Violent video games are addictive, and a more significant percentage of individuals that venture into violent video gaming often cannot restrict the urge to play more often.
With the revolution, computers and digital media usage are regular; adults, teens, and young children spend a significant amount of time on their phones. Hartmann et al. conducted research using eighteen male participants to show the effect of prolonged video gaming. The participants were to game in the evening, followed by sleep studies. During the research, saliva samples were taken from the participants and evaluated for the level of melatonin and cortisol. The light emitted by the electronics in the dark impairs melatonin secretion (Hartmann et al. 6). Melatonin is a hormone produced by the body. The hormone helps monitor the day and night cycle (sleep-wake cycles). Darkness triggers the body to produce more melatonin, which eventually sends the body to rest.
On the other hand, the light reduces melatonin secretion, keeping the body awake. Cortisol is a primary stress hormone that functions in conjunction with other brain parts to control mood, motivation, and fear. Violent video gaming requires constant watching of the screen for a long time. The Hartmann et al. study was considered significant in size as it took into account variability of every night and sleep studies. The participants underwent three study weekends, the first weekend was the harmonization phase, and the normal sleepiness was measured. The subsequent weekends were used to determine the effect of violent video gaming on sleep. The research showed a negative impact of playing on significant variables such as sleep. After a long-playing time, the sleep effectuality reduced by 3.5%, contrasted with the similar duration of playing monopoly (Hartmann et al. 15). Hartmann et al. found dwindled sleep efficiency directly linked to the frequent video gaming, which ultimately affected melatonin secretion.
According to Hartmann et al., the participant spent a significant amount of time on the screen, eventually interfering with their general sleep (16). The research showed a reduced level of melatonin during bedtime and an elevated amount in the morning; the effect was attributed to constant exposure to the light from the screen (Hartmann et al. 19). The research did not find any alteration in the level of cortisol. Although the research interfered with external factors such as diurnal lights, the conclusion was a negative impact on sleep habits brought by violent video gaming. Sleep generally affects normal body function.
Violent video game is a common trend among numerous teenagers and children. There are positive sides to violent video games, such as instilling skills in the child as the child goes about gaming, they learning skills such as how to handle guns. They are a platform for socializing; every player develops a social network. The gaming also engages the participants and reduces boredom. However, violent video gaming is characterized by more negative impacts. The impact affects both the active player and the individual surrounding them. Violent video games escalate aggression that builds up within the player and may spread to the social network. Most individuals playing violent video games tend to be more aggressive.
Violent video games promote masculine beliefs and dangerous behaviors with actual weapons; Most individuals playing VVE mimic the characters of the individuals portrayed in the game. Most characters are perceived as vital and don’t depict emotional breakdown. The games also may endanger the lives of children with unsecured firearms. Most children have the urge to explore what they have experienced in violent games hence are likely to jeopardize their lives when they counter firearms. Violent video games lead to depressive symptoms and affect an individual’s sleep and declarative memory. Declarative learning is the actual learning of events, facts, and rules. Declarative learning is reduced with insufficient sleep; inadequate sleep impairs memory function. Consolidation and interference are the two significant factors that affect declarative learning.
Chang JH and Bushman BJ. Effect of Exposure to Gun Violence in Video Games on Children’s Dangerous Behavior With Real Guns: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(5):e194319. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.4319
Gabbiadini, Alessandro, et al. “Acting like a tough guy: Violent-sexist video games, identification with game characters, masculine beliefs, & empathy for female violence victims.” PLoS One 11.4 (2016): e0152121. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0152121
Greitemeyer, Tobias. “The spreading impact of playing violent video games on aggression.” Computers in human behavior 80 (2018): 216-219. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2017.11.022
Hartmann, Miria, et al. “The effects of prolonged single night session of video gaming on sleep and declarative memory.” PloS one 14.11 (2019): e0224893. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0224893
Tortolero SR, Peskin MF, Baumler ER, Cuccaro PM, Elliott MN, Davies SL, Lewis TH, Banspach SW, Kanouse DE, Schuster MA. Daily violent video game playing and depression in preadolescent youth. Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2014 Sep;17(9):609-15. DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2014.0091. Epub 2014 Jul 9. PMID: 25007237; PMCID: PMC4227415. https://doi.org/10.1089/cyber.2014.0091