Video Games and Violence

Violent GamesIn the wake of tragic violent events it is important to consider that there may be links between playing video games and violent behaviour . The World Health Organisation recently decided to add “gaming disorder” to its official list of mental health conditions, stating that gaming behaviour could qualify as problematic if it interferes significantly in other areas of people’s lives. Gaming behaviour could be a disorder if it meets three characteristics:-

  • If a person loses control over their gaming habits

  • If they start to prioritise gaming over many other interests or activities

  • If they continue playing despite clear negative consequences.

In its July 2016 guideline on media violence, the American Academy of Paediatrics warned that violent media set a poor example for kids. Video games, the academy noted, “should not use human or other living targets or award points for killing, because this teaches children to associate pleasure and success with their ability to cause pain and suffering to others.” The academy’s summary of the results from more than 400 studies revealed a “significant” link between being exposed to violent media and aggressive behaviour, aggressive thoughts and angry feelings.

  1. Several peer-reviewed studies have shown that children who play M-rated games are more likely to bully and cyberbully their peers, get into physical fights, be hostile, argue with teachers, and show aggression towards their peers throughout the school year.

  2. Over 1,000 studies – including reports from the U.S Surgeon General’s office, the National Institute of Mental Health, and numerous studies conducted by leading figures within our medical and public health organisations point overwhelmingly to a causal connection between media violence and aggressive behaviour

  3. A study found that just 20 minutes of playing a violent video game “can cause people to become less physiologically aroused by real violence” People desensitised to violence are more likely to commit a violent act.

  4. A study published in the American Psychological Association’s Psychological Bulletin found that exposure to violent video games led to a lack of empathy and pro-social behaviour. A meta-analysis of 130 international studies with over 130,000 participants concluded that violent video games “increase aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, and aggressive behaviours, and decrease emphatic feelings and pro-social behaviours.”

  5. Exposure to sexual violence in video games is linked to increases in violence towards women and false attitudes about rape, such as that women incite men to rape or that women secretly desire rape.

On the other hand research also shows that playing violent video games can induce a feeling of guilt that leads to increased pro-social behaviour. A study of the countries representing the 10 largest video game markets internationally found no correlation between playing video games and gun-related killings. Almost all young males play violent video games,” and yet the majority are not committing crimes.

There can be a long discussion on pros and cons of video gaming but one thing is sure that people with violent tendencies can learn advanced strategies to commit violence and can become more lethal.

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