Do you play video games in your spare time? If you do, are they violent games? Some would have you believe that these will make you become aggressive and violent. In the US alone, 97% of kids ranging in age from 12-17 play video games and of these, over half of the 50 top-selling contain violence (ProCon.org). Although the majority of the earliest studies in my research has shown a connection to violence in kids who play these games, many researchers believe these results are flawed. Organizations like the APA (American Psychological Association) have promoted but reversed its findings that violent video games cause violence (Ferguson). So with all the opinions and controversy on this issue, we cannot overlook the statistics. Violence in video games doesn’t cause long term violence in kids.
During my research, trends showed as sales increased, so did the beliefs the violence in games caused kids to act aggressive and violent, however, the statistics proved this wrong. With a 204% increase in sales from 1994 to 2014, an FBI report in 2014 reports a drop in violent crimes to a 1970s level (ProCon.org). In this report, violent crimes were down 37%, murders by juveniles were down 76%. Among other studies regarding sales and release dates of violent games, including one done by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, found contradicting claims that violent video games were linked to aggressive assaults and homicides (Ferguson). To their surprise, results leaned toward a decrease in real-world violence in the US as sales of video games increased.
There are also social and emotional benefits to playing violent video games. Studies show playing video games can increase prosocial behavior because they can stimulate guilt and sensitivity due to the multiplayer option and being part of a team (ProCon.org). Experiments have also determined that violent video games for some are used as an outlet for emotions such as anger and aggression and to relieve stress (ProCon.org). The games help them by creating a real world looking environment, but one that they can separate from the real one as is taught at an early age (ProCon.org).
Although some studies suggest that there is a link between violent games and aggression in kids, this is only believed to be for a short period with no long term cause for violent crimes such as rape, murder, and assault (Salem, Liam). It has become common for society, and our leaders to blame violent mass shootings on the violence in video games. Events such as Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkview, and Virginia Tech were all targets of such blame with presidents and organizations, such as the NRA placing blame (Salem, Liam). But, as Henry Jenkins, a professor at the University of South California, wrote in an essay in 2005 for PBS, stating there was a large number of young people in the US playing video games but juvenile crime was at a 30-year low (Salem, Liam). He also wrote that research found people serving time for violent crimes consumed less media prior to the crime than the average person, believing that the vast majority of kids who play do not commit antisocial acts.
In conclusion, it is terrible how the misinformation of research and statements of leaders have corrupted the minds of the public. Large organizations such as the NRA, cast blame of mass shootings to the violence in video games and ignore the cry for gun control. These falsehoods and inconsistencies do so much more harm than any video game can. They prevent us from addressing the real issues of mental health and problems with violent acts related to gun control. We need more conservative titans, like Justice Antonin Scalia, who in 2011, argued that violent video games are not to blame for real-world violence and who would not ban the sale of these games in California to children (Salem, Liam). So believe the research and the real statistics that violent video games does not cause long term violence in kids.
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