Video Games: Scapegoat or Real Threat? by Arjoon H.

As the new age of technology dawns on us we see that many things have changed. From the everyday workers to the most skilled artisan, they all have been replaced by some form of technology. This may seem like a negative thing but in fact is has been crucial to the advancement of the human race. Technology has affected all of our lives in one form or another. For children, growing up in this age, they are exposed to social media, the ease of access of information and video games. Based off of two interviews, an article from EBSCO and from LexisNexis I will prove that with recent studies, video games have not made children of the new technology age less empathetic to the tragedies of the world around them as well as look into what those on the opposing side has to say.

The first thing that happens in this new age is the digitizing of all the information and also the way we perform our day to day tasks. For adults it went from doing everything by hand with pen and paper to sitting in a cubicle staring at a computer screen for eight hours. For children it went from playing basket ball and man hunt outside to playing NBA 2K16 and C.O.D. Black Ops III. With this change we have seen children become less interested in the real world and more connected to a fantasy world. This world of battlefields and violence has many people convinced that they are the reason why shootings and violence has been on a rise. According to Nick Bilton, ” Researchers believe that the constant flood of violent images takes away a child’s ability to feel empathy for people who have been through similar situations in real life..(Bilton par 11).” Bilton states that the researchers believe that these things happen because of violent games. There is no real proof that this is the case. The only thing they can do is speculate based on observation however with no real evidence to back their theories they carry no weight to them. Bilton also goes on to point out that, ” After the Sandy Hook shootings in Connecticut, when it became clear that Adam Lanza was a fan of first-person shooters, including the popular militaryĀ gameĀ Call of Duty President Obama said Congress should find out once and for all if there was a connection betweenĀ games and gunĀ violence. (Bilton par 20).” Now he is not saying that because Mr. Lanza was a fan of these games, this is the reason that he decided to do what he did. Bilton is simply stating that being exposed to these scenarios from an early age can cause impaired judgment about how to resolve situations. This impairment can come from being used to seeing one thing over and over, shooting people, to thinking that this kind of action will be appropriate for their own problems. However all this speculation from highly resolved people still does not prove what they think is right. For example, it is not true to say that just because I enjoy fighting games that I, myself, am a violent person. Actually its quite contrary, I am more pacifist than anything however the reason I enjoy these games is not for the violence but for one, I enjoy a challenge, and two, I enjoy the art of fighting and studying how the body moves when performing certain strikes and poses. This is where the problem lies with the adults and children. They do not ask why they like these things they just see and formulate an opinion with no real evidence. According to one of my sources, who’s name shall not be given but for the purposes of this essay shall be named Tony, ” I have played many video games throughout my time, from the fighting games at the arcade to the ones they have now and I do not find that I am any more violent than I was in 1985. (Tony par 5).” What this is saying is that yes the world has changed and become more violent it is unfair to blame video games for this upraise. “The mass shootings in recent years in Newtown, Conn. and Aurora, Colo., were both committed by young men who had regularly played first-person shooters. But of course, tens of millions of young men play theseĀ gamesĀ and never commit acts ofĀ violence (Bilton par 6).” This goes along with the Sandy Hook shooters story and those people are undoubtedly correct. The fact of the matter is that people do not want to accept responsibility for whatever actions they have performed and instead they look for a scapegoat to place the blame on.

Almost all children today have a gaming system. From PlayStation 4, to Xbox One, to Nintendo Wii, it is safe to assume that the majority of the houses in the nation has at least one of these systems. These systems are becoming more and more interactive and able to do more things. Initially they were to just play games, but now they can stream movies, and even browse the web. With all these innovations so too has the world of gaming. Not only can a child play the game on his system but he can connect to the web and enjoy gaming with other children across the world. Many parents believe that their child is getting caught up in this fantasy world and they begin to fear that whatever they see in that world will transfer into the real one. It does seem like a logical conclusion based on the fact that children are so impressionable. However we must look at the facts of at hand. To say that a child does not know the difference between right from wrong in terms ofĀ  killing another should not be blamed on the makers of the game but rather on the parents themselves. According to Tony, “Over the years I have seen kids who, [growing up], didnā€™t have any type of video games or even knew what a joystick was turn into very violent people while I’ve seen those who used to be the first to play any type of fighting game become COO’s of large corporations. It is not to blame entertainment for a negative upbringing of a child but rather the blame should be placed on the child’s parents who should have known to teach them right from wrong. (Tony par 8)” This just goes to show how quick people want to place the blame of something negativeĀ  on something else other than themselves. Once parents raise their children with the right set of common sense then they should know the difference between a game and reality. To add, according to the graph presented on page six of ” I Wish I Were A Warrior: The Role Of Wishful Identification In The Effects Of Violent Video Games On Aggression In Adolescent Boys” by Elly A Konijn, Bijvank Nije Marije and Brad J. Bushman the only real damage to be concerned about with children and violent videogames is the potential ear damage that they can cause. Violent videogames tend to be louder than its non-violent counter parts because they have so much going on that you have to keep the volume up to really understand what the situation is in the game, especially in the online games. Their research also states that, “Boys in early to middle adolescence and of low educational ability are susceptible to violent video game effects. Participants were especially likely to identify with characters when the games were realistic and when they felt immersed in the game. These results are also in line with previous theorizing ( Konijn, Marije, Bushman, 7).” Even though they set out to prove the exact opposite of my argument, they have provided undeniable evidence that says otherwise to theirs and is in conjunction with mine. Those with “low educational ability” are more susceptible to relating to these characters that others. This ties back into the parental aspect of my argument which still holds firm. With a strong and positive upbringing there can be no question that those children will turn violent due to video games.

Growing up in this age of technology you can see that some games really do push the limits of horror in terms of their graphic and gory content. However it is for the parents to decide whether or not they want their children to purchase and play these games. Another individual I interviewed was one of my class mates Jean Betances. He said, “Some of my favorite games have a lot to do with fighting but I myself donā€™t take the aggression I see as anything but a game (Betances par 3).” Jean is basically saying that yes video games are violent however because he was taught to use his common sense to differentiate between fantasy and real life he has no need to bring any of the violence portrayed in the games into the real world. He also goes on to say that, “I started playing video games when I moved here and realized that it was a way for me to make friends easily, and I think that a lot of kids today do the same (Betances par 4).” Children today use video games as a medium to make friends not as a way to take out frustration. If that were the case the billions of people playing these online first person shooting games would all be delinquents of some form.

Yes, there are those who claim that it is the video games that have made their child into an non empathetic person who borders on the sociopathic. To be fair there are such anomalies in the world, children who take the video games they play too seriously and act as though they are a character in it. Over the years this subject has been heavily debated and at one point in time thought to be correct. A large majority of the people whose children committed crimes did say that it was the video games that caused their child to do so. They claimed that the violent images and story lines made their kids feel like it was okay to act in the manner that they did to solve their problems. Some are even presented with the evidence that many notable researchers had collected and refuse to accept it. The fact of the matter is that you can argue all you want but the evidence as it stands today shows that it is not video games that are causing children to be less empathetic towards their fellow man.

To conclude, many people speculate that it is the exposure to violence through video games that has caused children and teens to become more violent. However studies show that the only negative affect these games can produce is ear damage based on the fact that the volume level for these games need to be much higher. Looking forward from this research in the near future I still believe that what has been proven so far about the effects of the games will hold true. However I may be wrong and new studies can emerge disproving my argument. But, if that was to happen I still stand by what I said, if the children are brought up with the right parenting and with common sense, then we as a society do not have to worry about the next generations becoming violent sociopaths. Technology has changed over the years and it has for the better. Entertainment technology has grown to immense proportions but so has scientific technology, once used responsibly, we can achieve great things for the future.

Works Cited

Betances, Jean, Personal Interview. 25 November 2015

Bilton, Nick. “Linking Violent Games to Erosion of Empathy.” The New York Times. (June 16, 2014 Monday ): 908 words. LexisNexis Academic. Web. Date Accessed: 7 Dec 2015.

Konijn, Elly A., Marije Nije Bijvank, and Brad J. Bushman. “I Wish I Were A Warrior: The Role Of Wishful Identification In The Effects Of Violent Video Games On Aggression In Adolescent Boys.”Ā Developmental PsychologyĀ 43.4 (2007): 1038-1044.Ā Academic Search Complete. Web. 7 Dec. 2015.

Tony, Personal interview. 30 November 2015.

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