Essays /

12 Aw Essay

Essay preview

Chapter in W. Warburton & D. Braunstein (Eds.) Growing Up Fast and Furious: Reviewing the Impacts of Violent and Sexualised Media on Children, (pp. 56-84). Annandale, NSW, Australia: The Federation Press.

Chapter 3

The impact of violent video games: An overview
Craig A Anderson and Wayne A Warburton
Parents often ask about the effects of violent video games on their children and teenagers. In most cases, they note that their “common sense” instinct is that too much exposure to violent video games must have some sort of negative effect on their children, but that they have read in the media that “the jury is still out” on violent media effects or that there is no convincing evidence that violent video game playing is harmful. Confusion around this conflict will often prompt them then to ask: “what does the scientific evidence really say?” In this chapter we show that the common sense view is backed up by a substantial body of recent scientific findings. Helpful and pro-social video game content has great potential for enhancing the lives of children and adolescents, but exposure to anti-social and violent video game content increases the likelihood of a range of negative outcomes, with greater exposure increasing the risk. Video games have been around for nearly 50 years. Kirsch (2010) notes the first as being Spacewar (released in 1962), a game in which two spaceships battle to the death in space. Although the graphics were very simple compared to modern games, the theme of battling to the death is one that has endured through the ensuing five decades. According to the most recent comprehensive poll by the Kaiser Foundation, American children aged 8–18 play an average of eight hours of video games per week, an increase of over 400 per cent from 1999 (Rideout, Foehr & Roberts, 2010). Playing is heaviest in the 11–14 age group, with boys outplaying girls more than 2.5 hours to 1. A recent study suggests that around 99 per cent of American boys play video games, along with 94 per cent of girls (Lenhart et al, 2008). It is common for US children and adolescents to play more than 20 hours per week 56

The impACT of violenT video gAmes: An overview

and it is not uncommon for males to play 40 hours or more per week (Bailey, West & Anderson, 2010). On average, Australian 7–18-year-olds played somewhat less than their US counterparts in 2007 (4.7 hours per week: see ACMA, 2007), but this figure could have risen substantially in recent years if Australian children have followed the steep upward trend found in the latest US studies. The types of games vary, but content analyses by Dill and colleagues (2005) show that the majority of top selling video games and children’s favourite games contain violence, and often strong violence. More recently, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 grossed ~$USD 550 million in the first five days of its 2009 release, at that time more than any other entertainment product in history (movies included). Next on the list in 2009 was Grant Theft Auto IV (GTA), with ~$USD 500 million in five days. Even more recently (a year is a long time in the video game world) Call of Duty: Black Ops grossed $USD 360 million in a single day, breaking all records (Ortutay, 2010). According to Wikipedia, the massive multiplayer online game (MMOG) World of Warcraft has more than 12 million online subscribers and thus currently grosses more than $USD 180 million per month (at $15 per month per player). GTA, which is rated M17+ in the United States and involves such activities as going on murderous rampages, having sex with prostitutes and then murdering them to retrieve the money paid, has been played by 56 per cent of United States children aged 8–18 (Rideout et al, 2010). Clearly, a large number of children and adolescents are exposed regularly to video games with high levels of violence and anti-social themes. This makes it important for parents, educators and professionals who work with children to have some knowledge of their effects. Before turning to the negative effects of violent video games however, it is important to stress that video games can have many helpful benefits. Here are just a few.

Helpful effects of video games
Pain management
Kirsch (2010) notes that various media, including video games, can be used to distract and relax children during painful medical procedures. 57

growing up fAsT And furious

Coordination and spatial cognition
A number of studies reveal that video games which require the placement of objects within a screen (such as Tetris) can enhance the spatial cognition abilities of players (that is, the ability to mentally arrange and rotate objects in three dimensions). Indeed, video game playing has been linked with a wide array of visual and spatial skills, primarily through practice effects (see Green & Bavelier, 2006; Okagaki & Frensch, 1994; see also Bailey et al, 2010, for a review). In one study by Gopher, Weil and Bareket (1994), the flight performance of Israeli Air Force cadets who had been trained on the Space Fortress II video game was compared with the performance of an untrained group. The trained cadets performed better in almost all aspects of flight performance and as a result the game was incorporated into the Israeli Air Force training program.

Pro-social behaviour
Although this area of study is still in its infancy, there is mounting evidence that video games which model and involve participants in prosocial, helping behaviours can lead to increases in pro-social behaviour in the short and long term. Most notably, Gentile et al (2009) found that elementary school students exposed to pro-social video games were more helpful than those exposed to violent or non-social video games. In a second longitudinal study of Japanese children in grades 5, 8 and 11, exposure to pro-social video games at the start of the study was linked with increased pro-social behaviour some months later, even when the baseline pro-social tendencies of children were statistically removed. In a final study of Singaporean secondary school students, the amount of pro-social video game play experienced was correlated with helping behaviour, cooperation, sharing and empathy. A study by Greitemeyer and Osswald (2009) found that pro-social video game playing led to a short-term reduction in the tendency to see the world as hostile and an immediate reduction in anti-social thoughts.

A considerable literature reveals video games to be a powerful teaching tool (eg, Barlett et al, 2009; Murphy et al, 2002; Swing & Anderson, 58

The impACT of violenT video gAmes: An overview

2008). They have been used to teach algebra (Corbett et al, 2001), biology (Ybarrondo, 1984), photography (Abrams, 1986), and computer programming (Kahn, 1999), to teach children how to manage diabetes (Lieberman, 2001; 2006) and to teach specific skills using simulators (for example, by Qantas pilots, NASA and the Air Force). Gentile and Gentile (2008) describe the educational advantages of using video games as teaching tools. These include the power of video games to engage children and to “encourage children to persevere in acquiring and mastering a number of skills, to navigate through complex problems and changing environments, and to experiment with different identities until success is achieved” (p 127).

There has been a recent explosion in the popularity of video games that promote physical activity and exercise (that is, “Exergames”). Games such as Wii Sports Heart Rate; Wii Fit; Wii Play; Wii FitPlus; Dance, Dance Revolution and Just Dance seem to be part of a recent trend that has seen an increase in the availability and popularity of non-violent, helpful games. Clearly, video games have considerable potential to enhance the lives of children and adolescents. Unfortunately, excessive video game playing, especially of violent video games, has the potential to impact children in a number of negative ways.

Harmful effects of video games
Video game addiction
In his moving biography, Unplugged: My Journey into the Dark World of Video Game Addiction, Ryan Van Cleave describes the way that a violent online game, World of Warcraft, dominated his life to such an extent that he was unable to function normally and was driven to the verge of suicide. Video game addiction is now taken so seriously by psychologists and psychiatrists that it was recently considered for inclusion in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) as a diagnosable psychiatric disorder and has been lodged in its appendix to encourage further research. It is clear that many children 59

growing up fAsT And furious

play video games at a “pathological” level that causes damage to family, social, school or psychological functioning (see Anderson et al, 2012). For example, it has been found that 8.5 per cent of 8–18-year-old US video game players do so at pathological levels (Gentile, 2009). Similar studies have found figures of 11.9 per cent in Europe (Grusser et al, 2007), 8.7 per cent in Singapore (Choo et al, 2010), 10.3 per cent in China (Peng & Li, 2009) and 4 per cent for 12–18-year-olds in Norway (Johansson & Götestam, 2004), with a further 15.5 per cent “at risk”. As will be seen in the ensuing sections, the amount that children play video games is very important. Those who play excessively are not only at risk of a number of negative outcomes, they are also much more likely to be playing violent games (see Krahé & Möller, 2004).

Attention deficits
There are some studies linking the amount of time children spend playing video games to attention deficits, impulsivity and hyperactivity (see Bailey et al, 2010; Swing et al, 2010). For example, Gentile (2009) found that adolescents who used video games at pathological levels were nearly three times more likely to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder than adolescents who played at non-pathological levels. In a landmark paper, Swing and colleagues (2010) examined the effect of video game playing on attention in elementary school children. They used a longitudinal study that statistically controlled for a range of other factors that could also lead to attention problems and found that amount of time spent playing video games predicted increases in teacher assessments of attention deficits in the children 13 months later. These results suggest that the children’s level of video game playing played a causal role in their subsequent loss of attentional capacity. Anderson et al (2012) believe that on theoretical grounds some video games should have less effect on attentional problems (for example, those that require controlled thought and planning) and that those which require constant reactive behaviours from players (a common feature of many violent first person shooting games for example) may be more problematic in terms of children developing attentional difficulties. 60

The impACT of violenT video gAmes: An overview

School performance
It is well established that spending longer hours playing video games is linked with poorer school performance for both children and adolescents (Anderson et al, 2007; Chan & Rabinowitz, 2006; Chiu et al, 2004; Cordes & Miller, 2000; Gentile, 2009; Gentile et al, 2004; Sharif & Sargent, 2006). One explanation for this is a simple displacement of time – hours spent playing video games eats into time that would normally be spent studying and reading. For example, in a study of 1491 youth between 10 and 19, gamers spent 30 per cent less time reading and 34 per cent less time doing homework (Cummings & Vandewater, 2007). It is also possible, however, that children who perform more poorly at school are also more likely to “spend more time playing games, where they may feel a sense of mastery that eludes them at school” (Anderson et al, 2012). Of course, another possibility is the that excessive gaming creates attention deficits, which in turn can lead to poorer school performance.

Increased aggression
Should we be concerned about children and adolescents playing violent video games? Can this lead to aggressive behaviour? Over 98 per cent of paediatricians in the United States have considered these questions and believe that excessive violent media exposure has a negative effect on childhood aggression (Gentile et al, 2004). Similarly, there is a consensus amongst the vast majority of violent video game researchers that too much exposure to violent video games increases the likelihood of aggressive thoughts, feelings and behaviours, leads to desensitisation to violence and also leads to decreases in pro-social behaviours and empathy (Anderson et al, 2010; Huesmann, 2010). There are, however, a small number of researchers who dispute this evidence and it seems that the views of this small minority have had a large impact on public perceptions (Anderson & Gentile, 2008; Dill, 2009). In this section of the chapter we will broadly examine the arguments for this view and then review the scientific evidence that does find violent video game effects. In this way, we hope that readers can judge the evidence for themselves. 1. The first argument against violent video game effects is that there is little evidence linking the ...

Read more


-1448 -1503 -18 -84 -9058 08 1 10 10.3 102 103 1043 1070 109 11 11.9 110 111 112 114 115 118 119 12 1235 124 1241 125 126 127 13 130 131 133 136 14 140 141 1465 1478 1491 1495 15 15.5 1500 151 154 155 16 160 161 165 1679 1686 17 173 174 179 18 180 181 182 185 187 19 1961 1962 1963a 1963b 1965 1967 1971a 1971b 1972 1973 1975 1979 1984 1986 1989 199 1990 1992 1993 1994 1996 1998 1999 1st 2 2.5 20 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2007a 2007b 2008 2009 201 2010 2011 2012 202 203 205 206 207 21 213 214 217 219 22 221 23 235 236 24 243 245 249 25 250 258 26 263 27 270 28 281 29 290 292 296 2nd 3 30 300 31 318 32 324 33 34 345 348 35 352 353 359 36 360 3602 376 377 379 38 381 387 39 397 4 4.7 40 400 403 405 406 41 42 4205 44 45 46 47 48 5 50 500 505 50m 51 511 527 53 534 54 550 56 57 571 575 58 581 582 589 59 593 594 595 6 60 602 609 61 62 622 63 631 633 64 640 641 65 650 66 67 68 684 689 69 7 70 71 72 73 74 75 752 759 76 763 77 78 79 8 8.5 8.7 80 81 82 822 829 83 84 89 896 9 900 94 95 98 99 aap ab abil abl abnorm abram abus ac academ academi accept access accord accur achiev acma acquir acquisit across act action activ actual adapt add addict addit adher administr ado adolesc adopt adult adulthood advanc advantag advic advis advisori affect afterward age aggress aggression-elicit aggression-rel aggression-trigg aggressor aggressor-victim aid air aisl aj ak al alabama algebra alioto all-inclus allen allianc allow allud almost alon along also altern although alway ambigu ambulatori american amicus among amongst amount analys analysi analyt ander anderson anger annal annandal annual anoth anti anti-soci antisoci anyth apa appear appendix appli approach approv april archiv area argument armi around arous arrang array arrest articl articul asbesto ascertain ask aspect aspirin assess assign assist associ assum astronaut atlant atroc attack attend attent attitud attract attribut august australia australian author auto autom avail averag avoid aw awar b ba back bailey ban bandura bar bareket barlett baron bartholow base baselin basic battl baveli bbc bd becom bedroom behav behavior behaviour behind behr belief believ benefici benefit benjamin berkowitz best better beverag beyond bias big biggest bike biographi biolog birth bj bl black blackwel boast bodi bomb bond bone borgida boy brain braunstein bread break bredin breivik bresolin brief bring broad brother brown bryant buckley buckner build bulletin bulli bushman c ca cadet caggiano calcium call calvert canberra cancer cannot cantor capac car care carjack carlson carnagey case casil caus causal cbs cent center central certain chain chan chang chapter charact characterist child childhood children chill china chines chiu choic choo choos chose chris chronic chunk cigarett circumst cite citi civic cj claim clarifi classroom clear cleav cliff close cluster cn co co-author coffe coffin cognit cole colleagu collectivist colleg combat combin come comment commit committe common communic compar comparison complet complex comprehens comput computer-assist comstock concept conceptu concern conclud conclus condom conduct confer confirm conflict conflictsolv confus connecticut consensus consequ conserv consid consider consist consol constant consum consumpt contain content conting contribut control controversi convent converg convinc coop cooper coordin copi corbett cord core correct correl cortex could counterpart countless countri cours court courtroom cover cp craig crave creat creatur crime criteria critic criticis cross cross-nat cross-sect crucial cs cue cum curia current cyberpsycholog d d-h da damag danc daniel dark data date day dc deal dealer death decad decept decreas defiant deficit deliber demonstr depart depend der describ desensit desensitis design desir destruct detail determin detractor develop development devin dewal df dg dhew diabet diagnos diagnost die diego diet differ differenti difficult difficulti digit dill dimens direct director discov discret discuss diseas disingenu disord dispel displac disput dissemin distinguish distract distribut dock docket document domain domin donnerstein doubt dr driven driver dsm durat duti e e1061 ea eap earlier earn easi easier easili eastern eat econom ed ed265015 edit educ effect efficaci eg eight either el electron elementari elev elicit els elud emot empathi empir enact encod encompass encount encourag endur energi engag englewood enhanc enough ensu entertain entir entranc envi environ episod er eric erlbaum eron escal escap especi espous essenc establish estim et ethic eubank europ evalu evan even event eventu everybodi evid exact exam examin exampl excess excit execut exemplari exercis exergam expect expenditur experi experienc experiment expert explain explan explicit explos expos exposur extend extens extent extraperson extrem f facilit fact factor fadiga fail failur fairchild famili fantasi fast favourit fear featur februari feder feed feel fellow femal feminist ferguson feshbach feshback fiction fictiti fifth figur fill film film-medi final find first first-person fisk fit fitplus five flanagan flaw flight fmri foehr fogassi follow food fool forc form formal fortress found foundat four frensch frequent fresh friend fright frighten function furious furthermor futur g ga galles gam gambl game gamer gap geen gender general generalis generat genr gentil gentri german get giant girl give global glorifi go goal gold good goodman gopher got govern grab grade grand grant graphic grasp great greater green greitemey griffith groebel gross ground group grow grusser grüsser gta guardian guess guidelin gun götestam h habitu hadley hall handbook hannah happen hard hard-wir harder harm health healthi hear hearold heart heath heavi heaviest help henderson henderson-daniel henri herald heroic herring high high-viol higher hill hillsdal histori hiv hmm hogan holguin home homework hope hostil hot hour howev hr hsm huang huesmann human hunter hurt huston hyperact hypothes hypothesi idaho idea ideal ident identif identifi identificatori ignor ihori ii iii iii-inspir imag imit immedi immers immun impact impli implic implicit import imposs impuls inappropri incit includ inclus incorpor increas inde indefinit individu individualist induc industri infam infanc infect infer influenc inform infrequ inhal inhibit initi injuri innoc innov insight inspir instig instinct institut instruct insult interact interconnect interest intern internalis internet interpret introduct invest involv island isra issu iv j j-z januari japan japanes jc jd je jh jl johansson johnson joint jordan joshua journal journey jp jr jt judg juli june juri k kahn kaiser katz ke keep key keyser kg khoo kilburn kill killer kirsch know knowledg known koeding kohler korbak kr krahé l laboratori lack landmark larg larger las later latest latter lawrenc lb ld lead learn led lee left lenhart lepag less lethal leung level lh li liau lieberman life lift light like likelihood lilli limit lincoln line link linz list literatur littl live lk lodg logo long long-term longer longitudin look loss lot low low-viol lower lr lung m m17 m2 ma macgil machin made magnet magnitud mahwah mainstream maintain mainten major make maker malamuth malden male man manag mani manifesto manipul manual marcus marcus-newhal mass massacr massiv master masteri mathiak matter may mcgraw mcgraw-hil md mean measur mechan media mediat medic medicin meet member memori memoris mental merlo meta meta-analys meta-analysi meta-analyt metaanalys metaanalyt metaphor method methodolog middaugh middl might militari milk miller million mind ming minor mirror misogyni mmog model moder modern mois moise-titus monetari money monkey month moor morn mose motiv motor mount move movement movi much multiplay murder murphi murray must mw2 myth möller n nail narciss nasa nation natur navarro navig nd ne near nebraska need negat netherland network neural neuron neutral new newhal news next nj nl non non-aggress non-patholog non-soci non-viol nonetheless nonhunt nonviol norm normal norway norwegian notabl note novemb nsw number numer nv oak oberg object observ obtain occur octob offic often okagaki old one onlin op oper opinion option organ origin ortutay oslo osswald other otherwis outcom outplay outsid overal overlap overview oxford p pa paediatrician page paid pain pair paper parent pari park part particip particular patholog pattern pay pediatr pediatrician peer peng penuel peopl per perceiv percept perform perhap periperson persever person perspect pew phenomena phenomenon photograph photographi physic physiolog pilot place placement plan play player pleasur podolski point polic polici policy-mak poll poor poorer popular portray posit possibl postscript potent potenti power pp practic praeger predict predisposit prefer premotor prentic prepar preparatori presenc present press prevent primarili primat prime principl print prior pro pro-soci proactiv probabl problem problemat procedur process produc product profession professor program project promot prompt proper properti prosoci prostitut provid ps psychiatr psychiatri psychiatrist psycholog psychologist psychophysiolog psychosoci public publish pull punish purpos pursuit put qanta quantit question r ra rabinowitz race rais rampag random rang rare rate rather rc re re-arrest react reaction reactiv read reader readi real real-lif realist realiti realli reason receiv recent recognis recognit record recreat recruit red reduc reduct reed refer reflect regard regardless regrett regul regular rehears reinforc relat relationship relax releas relev remov repeat repertoir repetit repli replic replica report repres reproduct requir research resolut resolv reson respect respond respons result retail retriev reveal review revolut reward rf rg rhode richter rideout right rinaldi risen risk ritterfeld rizzolati rizzolatti rob robert robson robust rockvill role ross rotat rothstein rubinstein ryan s-i sa sage sakamoto saleem sam sampl san sargent satur say schema schlegel school schwarzenegg scienc scientif scout screen script search second secondari secret section see seem seen select self self-regul sell sens separ sequenc serious servic set sever sex sexualis shah share sharif sherwood shibuya shoot short short-term shortcom show shown shut side sight signific sim similar simpl simpli simul singapor singaporean singer singl situat size sj skill slabi sleep sm small smell smoke social societi socio socio-econom softwar soldier sole someth sometim somewhat sort sound sourc space spaceship spacewar spatial specif specul spend spent sport ssd stab stabl star start state statement statist status steep step step-broth still stimul stimuli store stori strasburg strength stress stripe strong stronger strongest structur student studi style subscrib subsequ subset substanc substanti success sue suffer suffici suggest suicid summari summaris supermarket support suprem surgeon surpris survey suspect swing sword sydney symptom synthesi system systemat taiwan take taken target task taxi taylor tdt teach teacher tech techland technic techniqu technolog teen teenag televis ten tend tendenc tenet tennesse term test tetri thailand thalemann theft theme theoret theori therefor thing think though thought thought-through thousand threat three throughout thus time tisdal titus toddler togeth told tool top total townsend tragic train trainer training-simul trait transfer transmiss tremend trend tri trial trigger trim trolley turn tutor tv two type typic u ug uk ultim umilta unabl uncl uncommon under underli undermin underpin understand understood unesco unfortun unhealthi unhelp uniqu unit univers unplug unpublish unpunish unrealist untrain upon upward us usd use usual utoya utrecht v valentin valu valuabl van vandewat vari variabl various vast vc vega verbal verg versus victim victor video video-gam view viewer violenc violence/low violent violent/aggressive virtual visit visual visuospati vitak vj vocal vol vorder vs w wa wake walsh want warburton warcraft warfar wartella washington watch way wayn weak weapon weber week weil welcom well well-respect wellchild west western westport whaley wherebi whether whilst whole wide wider wii wikipedia wilcox wiley william willoughbi wilson wire within without woman wood word work world worth would wound wr x ybarrondo year year-old yet york young youth yukawa z zdnet zillmann zuckernan