Violent Content in Video Games and TVs

June 9, 2021

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Negative consequences associated with the violent content displayed in TV programs and video games cause the necessity to regulate and limit the exposure of children to such materials. Uncontrolled access to video games has been found to lead to behavioral difficulties such as disobedience, aggression, and rebellion, which may even extend to instances of mass shootings and related crimes, and to impaired health cognition caused by high levels of hostility and violence among players. By reducing the time, during which children watch television and interact with violent games, one reduces the chances of childrens exposure to real-life violence. Such violence is often associated with the influence of games, which encourages players for violent behavior and aggression, which can lead to desensitization and psychological disorders in the person. Controlling the amount of time that children spend interacting with the visual content and the character of the content itself is essential for avoiding the negative consequences like unhealthy behavioral, cognitive deviations and violent engagements that are inspired by exposure to violence on the TV and in video games.

The exposure to violence has been reported to be positively related to negative behavioral developments, particularly, aggression. According to McLean and Griffiths (2013), many cross-sectional studies found a correlation between children who spend a lot of time playing violent games and the levels of their aggressiveness. Furthermore, the authors assert that in comparison to the individuals who play non-violent video games, the children who play violent video games are more likely have an aggressive behavior. This difference in aggression levels among the children, influenced by the nature of video games, indicates the far-reaching consequences of the exposure to the violent-themed games.

Psychological disorders are also associated with exposure to negative scenes displayed on the television. Bond (2011) states that violent video games not only provoke aggression in actions but also affect the emotions and thoughts of the participants. Additionally, children with uncontrolled access to violent media content have been found to be psychologically overstimulated. Therefore, it is important to limit the time during which children interact with the media to avert negative influences on their thoughts and emotions.

Moreover, desensitization in young people has been attributed to their subjection to violent content on TV and gaming devices. Supporting the statements of many other researchers, McLean and Griffiths report a correlation between exposure to video games among children and the acceptance of physical aggression. When the children become accustomed to the immoral and negatively-oriented scenes, they begin to perceive these phenomena as a normal part of life. Thus, desensitization leads to an acceptance of violence and the decay of morality.

In addition to accepting violence as a norm, children tend to think that violence is something that should be rewarded. Many researchers share the opinion that video games that emphasize the rewarding of the violent people lead to an increasingly violent thinking (McLean & Griffiths, 2013).

Video games that are focused on violent themes negatively influence the morality of children. Exposure to violent forms of games has been listed as a risk factor for delinquency. Riddel (2017) expresses the idea that a total delinquency is highly related to the extent to which players enjoyed playing violent video games and the frequency with which they engaged in playing violent games. Hence, regulating the frequency of participation among children in violent video games is important for preventing the abovementioned deviations.

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Bond (2011) reports that playing violent video games decreases the levels of the overall positive social behavior in children, which, in turn, signifies an increase in negative behaviors and morals. When children’s exposure to TV and video games is not controlled, it is possible that the society will have a more social disorder. Limiting the time spent on watching TV programs and playing video games greatly reduces this impact on children.

Moreover, children are more susceptible to the negative persuasions as compared to adults. Apart from less conscious behavior compared to adults, children may be easily convinced to emulate violent behavior especially if the violence appears justifiable and if the games appeal to reality (Whitaker & Bushman, 2009; McLean & Griffiths, 2013).

The researches showed that male children are more affected by violent media. As Whitaker and Bushman denote, the repeated play of more violent video games could desensitize males to violence, leading them to act more aggressively as a result of sheer greater exposure (2009, p. 1050). Also, the authors acknowledge the tendency of males to spend more time playing video games in comparison to their female counterparts. Thus, parents and guardians need to regulate the usage of the TV and video gaming equipment by the male children in order to avoid radicalization and excessive aggression.

Belligerence, mass shootings, and rebellion incidences in children have been greatly associated with exposure to violent video games. McLean and Griffiths, for example, state that there is a positive and significant correlation between exposure to video games with violence and empathy levels in the players (2013). This means that children who interact with violent programs are less likely to care about the emotional dispositions of other people.

Some occurrences of mass shootings were initiated by persons who had spent a lot of time playing violent video games. Despite the existing disagreement between researchers in relation to the real effect of video games on mass killings and violent incidents, Bond states that in media coverage of such events, there is a tendency of mentioning any history of game exposure and the attribution of the exposure to the violent acts (2011). It is highly possible that the exposure to gaming has a relation to mass shootings among children and that regulating the exposure to the abovementioned activity will be helpful in reducing such incidents and related crimes.

Exposure to violent games negatively affects childrens cognitive functions and impairs their ability to overcome negative thoughts. When young people and children watch violent scenes, they are exposed to negative cognitive environments such as aggressive thoughts. Agreeing with the idea that violent games affect cognition, McLean & Griffiths (2013) state that aggressive cognition has been identified to associate with high patterns of violent videogame play (p.123). Thus, it is important to regulate the quality of content children have access to.

A study reported that violent game players were associated with hostile expectations among children. According to Hassan et al., hostile expectations increased over days for violent game players, but not for nonviolent video game players (p. 224). Players with a history of violent games often demonstrate more aggressive behavior in the courses of experiments. Hassan et al. propose that the observed high levels of aggression can be explained by the players expectation to be treated as more aggressive individuals, which makes them show more aggression. Indirectly, the exposure to violent video games tends to induce thoughts of hostility and thus exhibition of some inappropriate behavior among the children. Timely detection and control of the development of hostility in children are required along with the regulation of the childrens exposure to video gaming.

Apart from the perceived hostile attitudes, violent video game players are inclined to be overstimulated. A McLean and Griffiths study proposes that excessive physiological arousal was especially obvious in games that involved increased levels of blood (2013, p.124). Such arousals may pose a threat to small children and surrounding people, especially when children seek to emulate violent approaches.

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However, there have been claims that violent video games do not always lead to negative results. For instance, video games are thought to provide platforms for showcasing proficiency among children and increasing self-confidence (Bond, 2011, p. 4). Nonetheless, this argument is rebutted by the fact that the children may adopt negative thoughts and consequently engage in negative actions. In some cases, playing video games have been associated with positive cognitive development, visual attention, and improved perceptual skills (Bond, 2011; McLean & Griffiths, 2013). However, despite this, negative influences of the observed phenomena, particularly, aggression, outbalances positive influences of video games. Many researches, including Fergusson et al. (2015) and the Gunter and Dally (2012), advance the notion that video games do not cause violent behavior in any direct manner. The abovementioned researchers attribute aggression to other factors such as stress and report a decreased relation between gaming and violent behavior among children. Nonetheless, these propositions are refuted by many other studies that reported the direct correlation between violent gaming and negative outcomes such as aggression.

To sum up, exposure to violent video games have a wide range of negative repercussions, especially among younger people and children. The exposure to real-life violence leads to aggression and desensitization among children and disrupts morality among the players, which is evidenced by decreased positive social behavior, increased number of delinquency cases, and emulation of games that appeal to reality. Moreover, such children are often affected in their cognition due to the ease of access to negative thoughts and development of hostility. There are proposed relations between rebellion, mass shootings, and belligerence and playing violent games. In order to prevent these, it is important that parents and guardians regulate the childrens interaction with violent content through limiting time and content of video games and television programs.