Why Violent Video Gaming is a Serious Issue



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Ryan Osterberg

Professor Mathai

English 102

6 November 2018

Very careful work, Ryan. Good data and effective writing. The essay does have an APA – Psch slant, thus slightly different from the typical research paper this course models.

Score: 95

Why Violent Video Gaming is a Serious Issue

Video gaming is a popular entertainment choice for children, adolescents, and young adults. Video games are unique in their style and genre, which makes them appealing to a variety of audiences. A particular genre that has grasped the attention of many people in the world today is shooting games. Sarah M. Coyne et al. states, “According to a Children Now (2001) content analysis, as much as 89% of video games have some form of, with almost half including potentially lethal violence against other characters” (1869). Games like Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and Halo are supposed to be played by individuals that are at least seventeen years old, yet young children play these games. However, our society is unaware of the daunting behavioral and psychological effects of playing violent games. Violent games involve the use of weapons such as guns and knives to harm other characters, resulting in bloody outcomes. Violent video gaming has become a dangerous epidemic that should be considered a worldwide issue.

Violent video gaming has been attributed to negative behavioral tendencies. The American Psychological Association Task Force was asked to review previous research on the effects of playing violent video games. Sandra L. Calvert et al. reported of the specific findings of the Task Force: “As predicted by cognitive, learning, and arousing theories, violent video game use was associated with increased aggressive behavior in 12 of 14 studies published after the earlier meta-analyses” (133). Violent video games are contributing to a negative behavior that is aggression. Aggression is built up in users of violent video games, which should raise concern in people across the globe. Users are more inclined to purchase weapons, which could result in more conflicts. The Task Force also discovered that “7 of the 9 studies revealed decreased prosocial behavior, empathy to the distress of others, and/or sensitivity to aggression after violent video game use” (134-135). Violent gaming often involves physically harming other characters. Therefore, people that play violent games are less likely to care for others. Many people fail to realize that the impersonation of killing in video games can become a reality because of the disregard for others. Coyne et al. affirmed that “this relationship between violent video game play and delinquent behavior has also been found in clinical populations of institutionalized juvenile departments” (1869). Exposure to violence in video games puts gamers at a higher risk of committing crime. This poses a safety threat to nations across the world that needs to be addressed.

The frequency of violent gaming has been linked to decreased benevolence and prosocial behavior. A study was conducted to examine these effects based on the General Aggression Model. The subjects of the particular study were analyzed over a timespan of five years. After significant research, the experimenters discovered that “violent video game play negatively impacts benevolence, ultimately leading to a reduction in prosocial behavior” (Coyne et al. 1875). Benevolence and prosocial behavior are important characteristics of human behavior. According to Coyne et al., “prosocial behavior is associated with many positive outcomes, including life satisfaction, self-acceptance, personal growth, autonomy, positive relationships with others, social coherence, and psychological functioning” (1870). Benevolence is also a crucial value of many cultures (Coyne et al. 1871). When prosocial behavior and benevolence are absent in individuals, societies are in trouble. If negativity lingers in a society, happiness will be hard to come by for its members. Neurological functioning is significantly affected by these violent games. Young adult males were asked to participate in an experiment that would provide valuable data in this matter. They were separated into different groups, with each group having a different degree of exposure to violent video games. After viewing the content, the researchers took an fMRI of each participant. The researchers established “that young adult males with low prior video game experience have reduced lateral prefrontal and cerebellum activity during cognitive inhibition after playing a violent video game extensively over a period of one week” (Hummer et al. 9). The cerebellum is an essential part of the brain that is involved in balance and coordination, which can decrease in individuals that play violent video games. Even more alarming is the effect on prefrontal activity. Hummer et al. stated, “Lower PFC activity or frontolimbic connectivity is present in clinical samples with inhibitory deficits, such as ADHD or problematic video game play” (10). In other words, violent video gamers are subject to experiencing decreased self-control. Therefore, their actions could be taken out on those around them.

Additionally, a higher risk of depression has been linked to violent gaming. Fifth grade students were interviewed about their experience with violent video games and perceived depression according to the Major Depressive Disorder Scale. After concluding their study, the analysts detected that “playing high-violence video games for more than 2 hours is significantly associated with having a higher number of depressive symptoms” (Tortolero et al. 612). This data was significant because “it was observed after controlling for aggression and several violence-related variables” (Tortolero et al. 612). Depression is concerning, as it contributes to a number of unwanted thoughts and behaviors. Societies need to be conscious of this reality in the gaming world or depression will become more common.

Moral disengagement is a suggested consequence of playing violent video games. Moral disengagement is the tendency for people to betray implied societal rules. A longitudinal study was administered on a group of Chinese adolescents to enhance this belief. This is one of the few studies that was completed on Chinese individuals. The foundation conducting the study was Bandura’s Social Learning Theory, which states, “Children learn aggressive behaviors the same way they learn other social behavior–by direct experience and by observing others and imitating or modeling their behavior” (Teng et al. 2). By observing violent behavior in video games, people learn to imitate these actions. The data collected from the study showed that “moral disengagement is a possible route through which exposure to video game violence predicts subsequent aggression” (Teng et al. 9). Users of of violent video games may think it is acceptable to murder or steal because the video games promote such acts. They are more likely to violate moral standards established in a society. When people don’t follow these standards, vicious acts are likely to proceed.

The video game crisis is a serious issue. People tend to overlook the consequences of partaking in violent gaming, but we can no longer ignore the tangible, negative impacts of this trend. Playing violent video games has a multitude of negative effects, including aggression, decreased empathy, decreased brain function, depression, and moral disengagement. Societies will be headed towards disaster if they aren’t cautious about the devastating effects of playing violent games.









Why Violent Video Games Are Detrimental to Society

Annotated Bibliography

Calvert, Sandra L., et al. “The American Psychological Association Task Force Assessment of Violent Video Games: Science in the Service of Public Interest.” American Psychologist, vol. 72, no. 2, Feb. 2017, pp. 126–143. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1037/a0040413.

This article discussed how an American Psychological Association Task Force

critically reviewed previous research done by the APA in 2005 regarding the

effects of violent video games. Then, the Task Force was asked to conduct new

research from 2009 through 2013. From the research, the Task Force found multiple effects of playing violent video games, including increased physiological arousal, decreased empathy, and increased aggression. This source supports my argument that violent video games can have a negative impact on society.

Coyne, Sarah M., et al. “Violent Video Games, Externalizing Behavior, and Prosocial Behavior: A Five-Year Longitudinal Study during Adolescence.” Developmental Psychology, vol. 54, no. 10, Oct. 2018, pp. 1868–1880. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1037/dev0000574.supp (Supplemental).

This article provides information about a particular study that was conducted to examine the effects of violent video games on adolescents. Multiple participants were tested in the study over a five-year timespan. This study found that playing negative video games negatively impacts benevolence. The source backs the findings of my other sources, as it found that playing violent video games was linked to decreased empathy.

Hummer, Tom A., William G. Kronenberger, Yang Wang, and Vincent P. Mathews. 2017. “Decreased Prefrontal Activity during a Cognitive Inhibition Task Following Violent Video Game Play: A Multi-Week Randomized Trial.” Psychology of Popular Media Culture, May. doi:10.1037/ppm0000141.supp (Supplemental).

This article focuses on an experiment that was performed to assess the effects of

violent video games on brain activity. The experimental group was exposed to

violent video games for specific amounts of time, where the control group wasn’t

exposed to them at all. Researchers took an fMRI of all participants to examine

brain functioning. The data drawn from the study found that playing violent

video games can decrease prefrontal activity in the brain and inhibitory control.

This source adds a new dimension to my research because it focuses on the biological impacts of playing such games.

Teng, Zhaojun, et al. “A Longitudinal Study of Link between Exposure to Violent Video Games and Aggression in Chinese Adolescents: The Mediating Role of Moral Disengagement.” Developmental Psychology, Oct. 2018. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1037/dev0000624.supp (Supplemental).

This article contains information regarding a study that was conducted on Chinese

adolescents to discover the relationship between aggression and the engagement

in violent gaming. The study was most concerned with how violent gaming can

lead to moral disengagement. By using data from the study and Bandura’s theory

on moral disengagement, the researchers are able to draw strong conclusions. This

source will have an impact on my research because the participants involved were

of a different ethnicity than the participants in my other sources. Therefore, it will

make my argument stronger.

Tortolero, Susan R., et al. “Daily Violent Video Game Playing and Depression in Preadolescent Youth.” CyberPsychology, Behavior & Social Networking, vol. 17, no. 9, Sept. 2014, pp. 609–615. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1089/cyber.2014.0091.

This article reports of a cross-sectional study that aimed to discover whether or

not there was a relationship between violent gaming and depression. Fifth-grade

students were asked questions about the time they spent playing violent video

games. Then, they were asked to answer questions pertaining to depression. After

gathering the results, the researchers concluded that playing violent video games

likelihood of experiencing symptoms of depression. This source will be very

useful, as it provides information about the mental effects of violent gaming.







Peer Memo


Great paper! I think you’ve chosen a topic that is incredibly relevant and important in today’s society. You have a good deal of research and secondary sources to back up your claim, and I especially appreciated the diversity in the studies you chose to cite. As a writer, you’ve got a lot of credibility. There were a few moments throughout where I thought you could include more detail for your audience, particularly in the introduction, as well as the paragraph on moral disengagement. When writing an academic paper like this one, it is important to assume that your reader has a very limited knowledge of the topic. You must make them rely on your argument and the information you’ve presented when it comes time for them to craft their opinion. So, even if you feel moral disengagement is a common subject, use your own words to define it for you reader. Same goes for the topic of violence and why it is affecting our world. You’ve chosen a very broad topic to tackle, so be specific when you talk about the violence you see in video games. Does the aggressive behavior come from combat, weapons, specifically guns, or the act of murder and death? Which causes the most harm? And what, exactly, will be the impact on society if this problem is not remedied? Will aggression lead to more war? Will limited brain functioning take away from our ability to resolve conflict? And so on. If you can elaborate on this in some of your analysis, it will give your argument a lot more weight. Again, convince your reader to take action and make sure you’ve conveyed the significance of what you’re writing about. Overall, I think you have a great essay on your hands and I loved getting to hear your ideas! Let me know if I can help with anything else.

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