The Effect of Youth's Exposure to Constant Images of Violence

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“This generation is so dead. You ask a kid, ‘What are you doing this Saturday?’ and they’ll be playing video games or watching cable, instead of building model cars or airplanes or doing something creative. Kids today never say, ‘Man, I’m really into remote-controlled steamboats.”

For centuries there have been concerns regarding the violence portrayed in the media and video games alike. Analysts expressed great worry about how the violence portrayed is reaping its way into young minds. Unlike past generations, kids today are nearly consumed in war like video games rather sonic and Pac man. Children also don’t nearly play outside as much as they use to, instead they are glued to controllers. This is not only physically dangerous to children but also mentally. Games today are a little too realistic with their gore and blood (Bajovic, 2013). I believe that great changes must be made in the gaming world to protect our future generations from further destruction and violence in our World.

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Television watching has declined profoundly due to the intense popularity of video games lately. Around 77% of boys in grades 7-12 in the United States have played the ever popular Grand Theft Auto (A game all about killing and stealing). Nearly 49% have played Madden NFL series. The latest data claims overall children and teens prefer games which include fantasy and human violence. Games such as Mortal Combat, Grand Theft Auto, and Gran Turismo. Each game portrays great violence and are very realistic in nature (Bajovic, 2013).

For many video games have become part of the daily routine. Many people say that video games have become so popular because they allow people to enter into different roles. People leave their boring lives and enter into worlds of fantasy and fun. An overwhelming amount of data has indicated that playing these so called “violent” games leads to negative effects on cognition, behavior, and emotions. Most notably, they have found a decrease in empathy and an increase in aggression (Happ, Melzer, Steffgen, 2013).

Empathy is the ability for us to share and understand emotions that others have. When someone is so wrapped up in video games, they often lose human to human interaction and communication. Since this is happening, children are not learning properly how to be empathetic. You cannot simply learn this attribute from a video game. I mean surely, you can feel bad for a victim in a game but you cannot communicate with that character, thus losing the ability to be genuinely empathetic. There are some people who argue with this concept, but quite frankly it’s all in your understanding of what empathy truly is (Happ, Melzer, Steffgen, 2013).

As Empathy declines, aggression seems to takes it place. In nearly every study ever conducted, some sort of increased aggression has prevailed. The reasoning behind this is rather simple. The more one witnesses a certain behavior, the larger the likelihood they will mimic thus behavior. In today’s world morals aren’t nearly emphasized as greatly as they once were. Children aren’t punished in an effective way in most cases either. This environment coupled with violence in video games and media is surely a recipe for disaster.

There are many different forms of aggression. They include physical (direct physical harm to another person), relational (damage to relationships and friendships) and verbal (harm by verbal ques). Verbal aggression has also been found to increase due to the violence in video games. This includes the use of swear words and hurtful words inside and outside of the games. This dimension of aggression is often times not studied as closely when compared to behavior aggression, although it is an essential element none-the-less.

The ever so popular Grand Theft Auto series has about ten sequences since its release in 1997. At the peak of its career it did not contain a lot of profanity or verbal aggressions in its dialogue, but throughout the years has gained quite a bit to say the least (Ivory, Kaestle, 2013). I know through experience it has several different scenarios that have a large scope of vulgar language. For instance, you can enter into a strip club in GTA, and the stripper will ask many raunchy questions.

Also, with the use of microphones, players can communicate with one another. Often times this leads to name calling which can have just as much if not more psychological damage to a child. Cyber bullying has become a major problem throughout the entire world. Including this option in very competitive video games is probably not the best choice by any means. Many children and young adults take their own lives due to the hurtful words of another. In my opinion young children do not need to be exposed to language such as this.

I understand that kids enjoys playing these games because they seem so real and they are extremely fun to play but over the last two decades several states and politicians alike have been seeking to eliminate games such as those I have listed due to several problems. Some states have even passed legislation which diminishes minor’s access to extremely violent games. There are still some states that are working towards doing this but have struggled due to the First Amendment. This Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” This first Amendment gives people the freedom to express themselves and the government is not allowed to take this away (Dunkelberg, 2011).

In 2011, the first case hit the court regarding these video games. Brown v. Entertainment Merchants maintained a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals choice that abolished a California law that stopped the sales of games to those under a certain age. Despite the fact that Brown did not necessarily clear up some of the ambiguities in this law, the previous law was designed by those who are of lower rank in court systems (Dunkelberg, 2011).

There were two essential questions unanswered that endured. The two questions are: “First, will a video game (or similar form of Interactive media) ever receive anything less than strict First Amendment scrutiny? Second, will a state ever meet its burden under the strict scrutiny standard?” Although Brown and previous courts did directly address either of these questions, through manifestation we can conclude both would be answered in a negative form. Constitutional Amendments have been proven historically difficult to change. Even with strict regulations on games, children still have several ways of accessing these games. To completely restrict everything violent from young children is nearly impossible in the world we live in today (Dunkelberg, 2011).

Television’s no longer block the kinds of things that a Childs eyes should not witness rather they exploit anything and everything to gain popularity amongst its viewers. Children are seeing things they are not ready for and interpret these things as normal, which is leading to an increase in aggression. It is difficult for young children to know the difference between these games and reality without the help of a parent or guardian (Toppo, 2015). Aggression can cause several problems in a childs life both physically and psychological. Children’s minds are still developing and this added aggression from games is not making the process any easier on either the child or parent. I also found that for some unknown reason online violence creates more aggression than offline violence in young children (Hollingdale, Greitemeyer, 2014).

Media Violence has also been said to affect moral decision making in young children and teens when dealing with real life situations that may be similar to those found in these games. Those who spent more time playing games tend to have a more difficult time deciphering what is right and what is wrong. It was also very difficult for them to differentiate between the violence in fantasy games and the violence viewed on realistic television (Bajovic, 2013).

So basically the video games are so realistic that the children see them as real violence like you would watch on the news for instance. This is a major problem because other children who don’t really play can decipher the differences. They know that you shouldn’t shoot someone or steal cars. In a sense this almost seams unrealistic because you would assume a child would know these differences but sadly the violence is getting the best of their minds (Toppo, 2015).

Not only do these games make one psychologically ill but also physically. Many of these so called gamers have a BMI (body mass index) way over the healthy number. As we all know children are becoming less active and becoming severely overweight. This is largely due to the fact that they are glued to their controllers. They keep telling themselves just one more level, just one more shot and this is keeping them from moving off the sofa grease ( Siervo, Sabatiniz, Fewtrellz, Wells, 2013).

Not only do they display outside obesity but their internal organs are severely suffering as well. Being overweight has several internal problems as well. It significantly increases your chances of getting diabetes, heart disease, and clogged arteries as well. Not to mention the increase in blood pressure from becoming stressed about a game. The diet of a gamer is also something that is noteworthy. Generally gamers tend to eat unbalanced and unhealthy meals that are packed with calories and grease ( Siervo, Sabatiniz, Fewtrellz, Wells, 2013).

While playing these games, the player’s sort of take on a specific character (most often the bad guy). Once they have identified with a specific character they will often look at that character as some sort of hero or role model. This often times will intensify the Childs desire to play a specific game. The child may then take the behavior from the game and try to mimic certain parts into real life. Video games allow an enormous amount of freedom for these children, they are able to kill and steal without receiving any punishment. Most often in games, bad behavior is rewarded with newer gear (Happ, Melzer, Steffgen, 2013). This would not be a problem if children did not try to copy these actions in real life.

Sadly, I have seen several news stories showing that children as young as four years old have actually killed another person. This is more of a modern day problem. I believe that violence is the direct result of stories such as this. Children from previous generations have not been known to kill a parent over an argument, let alone even know how to load and shoot a gun. Games and media are to blame.

There has been a tremendous amount of research done on this topic. In the majority of societies today, scientific research and experiments are generally funded by the public. This means that the public is certainly concerned with the behaviors and verbal aggressions that their children are learning. The parents know that their kids are learning it from somewhere but not quite sure exactly where to pinpoint the problem. This is why parents are paying top dollars to scientists to research these topics. Parent’s except and demand the most accurate answers to these questions to help solve the problems (Nauroth, Gollwitzer, Bender, Rothmund, 2014).

Aggression can be learned from many other sources outside the gaming world. Due to the amount of studies I located during this project, I can easily see that the need for information is strong. This problem is occurring nationally and the answer to solve it is not simple (Nauroth, Gollwitzer, Bender, Rothmund, 2014).

As stated previously, regulating these games goes against the first Amendment in the United States. Also, game companies and extreme gamers aren’t going to go down without a long vigorous battle. Although many parents try to monitor this problem, few have been successful. If the state cannot control this problem and the parents cannot control this problem, who can?

Some people may wonder why is it that some kids can play video games and have no problems while others seem to run into several. The question may seem a little complex at first but through my research I think I may have concluded the most logical answer. I believe that children who have a strong sense of morality and some sort of religious upbringing are better equipped for the gaming world. I say this because they have a good moral standing. They can look at a game and know that it’s not okay to do these behaviors in reality. They know that doing these things will lead to great consequences, consequences that reach far beyond the Earth, but consequences that could lead you to hell. If someone has no belief in a God then the actions they perform have no real consequences. A lot of times children who commit crimes are not help accountable because they are so young and still have a developing mind, but if you truly fear the wrath of God you will be less inclined to sin.

In my opinion games should be monitored significantly. Violence in our world is increasing as we speak. Games that include this violence is messing with our children’s minds and bodies and is happening at an alarming rate. We have the means to stop this nonsense by worrying about our own homes and what we can do to prevent this from happening. We cannot expect our government to handle this problem so we must make the decisions for our families ourselves. We may not be able to completely monitor what our children see and hear but trying is a lot better than standing around expecting someone else to solve the problem.

Another great idea to help stop these problems is to teach our children right from wrong. This takes several years and a lot of hard work and determination but it can be done. We must reward our children for good actions and correct them when they are wrong. By doing so we are enhancing their understandings on what we should do as human beings. Some parents do not set good examples for their children and this is where the ongoing problems begin.

This is a serious problem and the solution is not easy. I believe there is a reason that our world is increasing in violence and that is because it is publicized more. There is a children’s world and an adult world, they should never be the same. Children deserve their innocence but sadly it is being snatched from them due to extreme violence. Hopefully someday these problems can be solved but unfortunately I only seeing them getting worse if something doesn’t happen soon.

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