[Submission Date] Effect of Video Games on Children’s and Adolescents’ Behavior
Parents today now face an overwhelming challenge to raise their children. With mass media becoming a crucial and unavoidable home utility, families’ role in nurturing and shaping the children is now widely questioned. Every age group, gender, generation and family is catered via mass media. It only means that there exists a complicated relationship between mass media and its audience that include children, teens, and families. Media affects every group of audience in a different way and similarly, children have a different understanding of media as they grow. Computer and video games are also a major part of mass media. They are similar to the Internet bug that enters the mind of an adolescent and devours his entrails and the allotted time.
All the efforts that parents made during the process of raising their child, especially during the early stage of development, may be jeopardized if the parents allow penetration of these "bugs" into the child's mind. The games change the consciousness of a child and alter the system of his values, so that he is in danger of harmfully internal changes and degradation. A teen stops interacting with his parents, and he feels that he does not need an education, career, and even marrying somebody and having his own family. Computer games act as a means of social maladjustment, a kind of viral illness or "virtual tumor" intelligence. Ultimately, the resultant problems include stressful effects, mental disorders, and problems with sleep, isolation, violence, and aggressiveness.
The life of modern teens has become boring and passive with the emergence of computer entertainment and media. Jack White shares this opinion by pointing out that today's 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 am into remote-controlled steamboats” (Jack White). It is rather difficult to measure the effects of mass media including video games on human beings as they are complex creatures. It is also impossible to know about children's thoughts and the catalyst behind their actions.
There are many disadvantages that may affect teens’ mental and physical health, social relationships, interaction with an external environment, academic performance, and psyche. The major drawback is video game addiction. Young people get involved into playing video games easily, and their desire to play games may increase very quickly. The habit of constant playing may lead to the inability to function normally in everyday life, problems with sleep, and eventually to suicide. The most dangerous type of video games is one that involves violence, aggression and killing of an opponent. Children very often transform a virtual world into the real one, giving their friends and themselves the names from the beloved cartoons and games and may want to repeat what they did while playing a game in fact. Such desires may lead to fatal consequences (Whitaker & Bushman 1036).
Nowadays, children and teens live in a world that differs significantly from the one in which their parents grew up. These trends are evident in such traditional spheres as games and toys. The development of the electronic and computer games industry poses a new emotional question about what impact these games will have on children's psyches. Everybody enjoys playing games. The game is the best environment for learning about any kind of activity. However, playing computer games is not just a pastime; it is an action of designing the worlds. Construction of the worlds is the process of creating an image of the world in the human psyche. Any general computer game has its own physical and spatial properties, fake history and timeline, the original philosophy, ethics and morality, eventually comprising a constructed world. Games give the player an opportunity to be active in a constructed world. However, such an advantage can turn into a disadvantage as some people feel that they are changing even to a greater extent than needed in the course of the game (Amanda). Physically, these remain the same, but internally, they undergo a hidden process of changes and become very different. For example, a game called the Sims brings a player to a virtual world where he lives an imaginary life. Consequently, a person starts repeating his virtual activities in the real world and substitutes his real innate behavior with an imaginary one.
Moreover, the information about the impact of computer games on adolescents gained wide publicity, and it comes mainly from two sources - the media and empirical studies. Since the 1980s, there are many messages in the media about the dangerous influence of computer games on the mental condition of adolescents. The main arguments include a dependence followed by psychopathological symptoms, such as the inability to switch to another teen entertainment, imaginary sense of superiority above the others, poor emotional sphere, etc. (Whitaker & Bushman 1350). Some computer games provoke the glorification of war and violence and right-wing extremism. The negative effects indicate narrowing of the range of interests, the desire to create one’s own world, and escape from reality. Spending most of teenagers’ free time in front of the computer is often the cause of poor communication with peers, social isolation and difficulties in interpersonal intercourse. The negative picture is complemented by somatic disturbances, such as blurred vision, fatigue, etc., which is believed to be a direct consequence of “computerization” of teenagers’ free time.
In order to demonstrate a bright example of the delusory effect of video games on teens’ minds, I would like to present a short story about my own experience. I enjoyed playing violent games when I was a 10 year old child. I experienced relaxation, satisfaction, and that is how I escaped from the reality of life and its problems. After some time of continuous involvement in this activity, I became addicted to video games, and I played day and night without noticing the time flow. At first, the change that occurred in my mental perception of the world was not noticeable for my adults. However, sometime later I wanted to play more and more often, and I started avoiding doing my homework. Of course, this issue brought my parents’ concern and consequently a conflict with them. I did not want to listen to the lectures of my father about the importance of my education and all those benefits that were supposed to contribute to my job in the far future. I thought that I could resolve everything by demonstrating my power and fighting.
Obviously, my behavior negatively influenced my academic performance and relationships with my parents. In addition, I started to fight with my school friends during the breaks between the classes. We experienced satisfaction, power and courage while demonstrating our strength. We just played, and it seemed to be a joke until I accidentally injured my classmate. Immediately after the accident, I had a serious talk with my teacher and parents. Ultimately, I had to change schools, and I was banned from playing video games at home. This punishment made me fall into a long depression. I did not talk to my parents for a couple of weeks, and I spent most of my time in my room. It was a breaking point in my childhood that made me think about what happened and analyze my behavior. I realized that the violent video games harmed my personality. Furthermore, spending too much time in front of the computer was the core reason of my violence, isolation and degradation. After thinking over what I had done, I underwent a painful procedure of regaining the trust of my parents and reestablishing warm relationships with them. Moreover, I got adjusted to the new class and set a good reputation and friendly relations with my new classmates.
After conducting a consistent analysis of disadvantages of playing video games, and taking into account my own experience, I would like to conclude that playing any video games for a long time, especially if they are of a violent character, leads to a harmful effect on a child’s sight, psyche and overall health condition. If a gamer is not treated until full recovery from his addiction to video games, he will lose everything and disappear in the ocean of grayness because any standing affairs require complete dedication. Such people will achieve nothing besides wage slavery because any business requires complete commitment. Otherwise, it will inevitably collapse. Any creativity requires that passion, which is stolen by desire to play a computer game. The passion for creativity substitutes the passion for games; in fact, both need excitement and great energy. In short, mass media has brought both negative and positive influences. The effects of it can be either advantageous or disadvantageous. The main thing is how we use the medium. Mass media increases knowledge, introduces new beliefs, and teaches values. On the other hand, it also provides help in shaping up of attitudes or changing feelings about things. It can either cause positive or negative changes in patterns of child and adolescent behavior. The main thing is to make the children understand and realize the differentiation between good and bad.
Lenhart, Amanda. Teens, video games, and civics: teens' gaming experiences are diverse and include significant social interaction and civic engagement. Washington, D.C.: Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2008. Print.
"Video Games Quotes." BrainyQuote. Xplore, n.d. Web. 30 May 2014.
Whitaker, J. L, and B. J Bushman. "A Review of the Effects of Violent Video Games on Children and Adolescents ."Washington and Lee University School of Law. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 May 2014.
"Jack White quote." BrainyQuote. Xplore, n.d. Web. 31 May 2014.