Do Violent Games Cause Behaviour Problems?

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It’s no secret, people like playing video games. Whether it’s to take a break from the real world, immerse yourselves in something new, or just a hobby you follow, video games are here to stay. Developing technology has managed to create virtual worlds where things are so realistic, you could feel like you’re actually the character and adopt their behavior traits. Which leads to a growing problem – violent games, characters and situations. But if you play such games, does that mean you intrinsically are a violent person? Do these storylines encourage anti-social behavior, and if so, what can we do to change it?

Over a whopping 40% of the world’s population play video games – this includes games on your computer, phone, Wii consoles and more. That’s around 3.1 billion people who are exposed to such content and actively engage in it. Video games are found to contain certain triggers that can be addictive, causing players to play uncontrollably to successfully reach the next level. Games like Vikings, Clash of Clans, Grand Theft Auto often have missions which require considerate amount of time, taking practice and dedication to succeed. Various researches show that teenagers are exposed to these games at a young age and often worry about beating their friends in online events and more. Ironically, being social on your computer or gaming console is what eventually leads to anti-social behaviour.

With an onslaught of violent video games available, there are various studies conducted that question whether spending too much time playing such games can provoke teens to act violently and encourage such behaviour. Hunting games and action games often involve situations where characters act aggressively, fighting, killing or even torturing other characters. A study showed that teens who play more violent games tend to link such behaviour with amusement. Often being rewarded when they are successful in such games, they may be conditioned to think that their bad attitudes are better in the real world too.

A study conducted by Harvard Health Publishing talks about how psychologists link violent video games to bad behaviour, as they desensitize people to violence, making such occurrences normal ( ).  Video games tend to cause a state of irritation, leading to aggression and violence in day to day life.

Some other negative effects of playing video games according to various findings, are laziness, unsocial behaviours, changing attitudes and poor eating habits. Games tend to have a way of drawing people in and can lead to addictive behaviour where players spend many hours in front of the console and tend to eat more instant food that is easily available (packaged chips, candy, cakes etc.). Lack of physical activity and movement, paired with unhealthy eating habits can cause many weight related problems. Gamers also become more comfortable communicating with technology, example text messages, instead of carrying out actual conversations.

The group of players affected the most by the games are children or teenagers. As younger minds, can be swayed easily, violent video games can often hinder their development and change their attitudes. They often become more violent, self-centered, demand instant gratification, and spend more time on the screen than with their families. This leads to distractions in their social, school, and family life.

Parents have a very important role to play in such a scenario. Some steps they can take are –

– Play the games with their children to see what kind of content the game has.
– Install the consoles in common areas of the house so they can monitor how long their children are spending playing games.
– Check the rating and disclaimers of the game to understand if they are playing killing games, war games etc. that often propagate violent behavior.
– Set limits on the times the children can play the games. Try to ensure those times fall when the parents are home, and limit screen time to all devices including the phone, computer, video games etc.
– Set parental control and passwords on games so the children cannot access them when their parents are not around.

As you can see, it is safe to say that violent games are available easily and can often influence mind-sets. However, many debates have taken place which question if these games are actually the cause of violent behaviour, or in fact are beneficial as they may offer an outlet to take your frustrations out virtually instead of physically.
The important thing to understand that is that while some games might cause bad attitudes and anti-social behaviour, if they are monitored well and played in moderation, they may not be responsible for such attitudes.

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