You have found the perfect spot to hide, tucked away in the corner of an unused alley. Glancing around suspiciously, you check to see if your location is secluded enough. You hear someone running up behind you and you react immediately and — you hear your mom calling you to dinner and are suddenly sucked back into the real world: suddenly, fantasy becomes reality. Can what you see in these video games change your reality? Is it real, or is it all just a game?
Excessively playing video games has a clear link to increased violence because these games set a bad example for developing teenagers and cause aggressive and antisocial behavior, which, in extreme cases, has led to attacks by teenagers in real life.
Violent video games set a lousy example for children and teens, leading to the development of harmful behavior. The American Psychological Association warned that video games “should not use human or other living targets or award points for killing, because this teaches children to associate pleasure and success with their ability to cause pain and suffering to others.” When the APA conducted over 400 studies, the results depicted a significant connection between exposure to violent media and aggressive behavior; this like exhibits larger negative effects when the media was video games.
Brutal video games train developing adolescents brains to associate violence with satisfaction, especially when a gamer wins prizes for attacking others virtually. Additionally, these games can develop a lack of empathy, the ability to understand and share one’s feelings with others, and detract from player’s sensitivity to aggression. This can cause the line between what is right and what is wrong to become blurred, which can lead to gamers being violent in real life.
Though some studies say that video games do not cause antisocial behavior, there is a direct correlation between video games and isolated behavior. Professor Ryuta Kawashima, of Tohoku University in Japan, studied the effect on the brain’s frontal lobe, comparing results from playing Nintendo games and doing simple arithmetic. Kawashima found that the games did not stimulate the frontal lobe, unlike the straightforward math, which is an area of the brain responsible for the repression of antisocial tendencies and impulse control. His study indicates that the negative relationship between video games and antisocial behavior exists.
Video games also cause psychological stress which can lead to detrimental physical health problems. Being constantly immersed in a pseudo-reality of fighting and rapid-fire reactions can result in natural situational stress. This stress can, in extreme cases, contribute to negative health implications, such as heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and mental health issues. Additionally, if a gamer were to become obsessed with video games, it could lead to isolation and further mental health issues, such as depression.
Focusing on one video game for a long period of time can cause “locked-in syndrome.” This result of this condition is described as when the parts of the brain that are responsible for decision making, like the frontal lobe, are overused in one way, and it can have the same effect as an addiction. Because teenager’s brains are still developing, this can lead to unbalanced decision making and reduced impulse control.
The antisocial and aggressive behavior video games cause can lead to violence in the real world. Situations in which teens are attacking others have been proven, in some cases, to be linked to the attacker’s addiction to brutal video games. Though this is not always the situation, it is an extreme result from a simple issue; the video games being played are too violent for young adults to be consuming.
Though some may object that video games help quicken reaction times and improve problem solving skills in teenagers and children, which could benefit them in later life, the consequences of playing cruel video games outweigh the minor perks. The social aspect of gaming might be beneficial for some gamers, but it has also proven to isolate some individuals due to lack of real human connection. Even though video games may improve a gamer’s decision making efficiency, the ramifications of playing too violent video games is harmful to young adults.
All in all, the popular video games of today are far too violent for teenagers and children alike, and can cause major behavioral challenges in gamers including an antisocial disposition, a tendency for violence and, in severe situations, physical health defects and attacks led by teenagers. In saying this, every person is different, so the best advice for gamers is to restrict certain questionable games and limit the amount of time they play to ensure that the line between reality and games does not become blurred.