It Is Popular To Point to the Playing of Video Games as a Cause for Troubled Behavior In Teens
Parents have been concerned about the effects violent video games have on their children for years. Though no definitive study has been done to prove such a claim, many blame video games for the aggressive behavior of today’s youth. Violent video games are not the cause of school shootings or acts of sexual abuse. It is more likely that such acts of aggression are brought on by significantly more emotional problems than video games, such as bad parenting or an unstable or unhealthy living environment in the individual’s life. Video games can in fact be used to decrease aggression and help relax the mind. There are plenty of advantages to playing video games that go unmentioned by those who oppose them. It may seem reasonable that violence in video games can cause more violent tendencies in real life, but there are many reasons as to why such a theory is not true.
While no study has proven that video games do not cause violence and more aggressive behaviors from their players, no study has proven the contrary. Researchers at the University of Illinois performed a study where a group of individuals played a violent video game for 56 hours, while another group did not play the game (Haines online). The study showed that the group playing the game did not exhibit any significantly more aggressive tendencies or an inclination to argue amongst peers than the non-playing group. However, since emotions are still a subject that scientists do not completely understand, studies on this subject can be quite biased. Whether a study shows that aggression is or is not caused by video games, its credibility must be questioned. The majority of studies done to prove the negative effects of video games are in fact very biased (Jenkins online). Until human emotions can be further analyzed, such data can never be obtained, so researchers conduct studies to help prove their point. As soon as a study surfaces stating that scientific evidence proves the correlation between violent behaviors and video games, another study is produced with scientific evidence stating that there is little to no correlation between violence and video games, and no study has conclusively determined one way or the other.
While video games reward bad behavior in a sense, (killing enemy soldiers in a war game, the bad behavior being killing another person) no video game teaches you to be a menace to society. One game series in particular, Grand Theft Auto, is constantly being targeted by the anti-video game conglomerate. News reports by CNN and NBC state that the game rewards the player for doing illegal deeds in the game by giving them stars. However, in the video game, the stars essentially represent how poorly you are progressing. The purpose of the stars is not to reward players, but in fact to warn players to cease committing said illegal acts or their session will be terminated (often in game, in this case the police killing the player’s character). In almost all of the games that have the player commit evil deeds like murder or theft, the acts are justified. In the popular video game series Call of Duty, players are a part of the Allied forces in World War II and are posed against the Nazis. This act of violence is not a brainwashing of youth, nor is it menacing to the general public. It is a common struggle of good versus evil, the same concept used as a basis for countless works of English literature.
The culprits of school shootings and robberies are seldom, if ever, driven to do so by video games. If video games are not to blame, then what is? More often than not, troubled and aggressive individuals are suffering from a difficult life struggle, such as a stressful family life. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a mental disorder often brought on by neglectful parenting (Volpe online). If the situation causing PTSD is not resolved over time, the disorder can cause a chemical imbalance in the brain, often sparking depression and/or aggressive activity. It generally takes something to spark the sadistic minds of those who commit acts of violence, and video games are not the outlet of aggressive behavior. If an individual is mentally unstable to the point of committing a public act of violence, they will find their spark whether or not they play video games. It is conceivable, however, that when the act of violence is something minuscule (such as hitting a sibling) that video games could be a spark of frustration that causes these acts, though individuals that are willing to do such a thing will find another spark if they do not have access to such games.
Not only are video games not a direct cause of aggressive behavior, but they are beneficiary in many different ways. Many games require the player to complete various lateral logic puzzles in order to progress further in the game. These puzzles can teach the player vocabulary, thinking and decision making skills, and even history. Puzzles in games can range anywhere from having to decipher an ancient language under a time limit to a literal jigsaw puzzle. Games often implement enemy resistance in these puzzles in order to keep the player interested, and because of this, puzzles are often overlooked when reviewing the educational aspects of a video game. Along with the plethora of (unmentioned) mental advantages of gaming, there are also the physical aspects. Playing video games can be used as a method of relaxation if the correct game and method are played (Munger online). Many games focus on music or scenery rather than action and suspense. A game on PSN (Playstation Network) features a musical flower that creates music when it comes into contact with other flowers, and the sole purpose of the game is to create music by the player expanding their chain of flowers. Those who play games are also said to have much quicker reflexes as well as superior hand-eye coordination than those who do not. Even in a violent World War II shooter, the player’s brain is forced to act quickly as though it were at war, leading to quicker overall reflexes and an ability to respond to one’s surroundings (Roach online).
Video games do not train anyone to be a killer. If video games have any negative mental effects on the minds of youth, it is insignificant and does not change their overall behavior (Schaffhausen online). If anything, gaming is an outlet to release aggressive behavior so that one needs not find an outlet in real life.