Various reports and studies have tried to link violent video games and crimes with other aggressive behaviours, but is this really fair and can it be proved?
In one study in the U.S last year, scientists were able to demonstrate links between violent games and aggressive behaviour. However, the level of aggression was closely related to other factors such as family environment and other forms of violence. This shows that aggressive games don’t necessarily have a direct, link to the violent behaviours of young people, but perhaps they do contribute to these kinds of behaviours.
Violent games can lead to aggressive moods and behaviours and a lack of empathy. Characters in video games show these characteristics and as a result children can believe that these behaviours are normal and acceptable. In extreme cases, children could mirror these behaviours in ‘copycat’ circumstances.
Disturbingly, lots of children play games that have an adult classification. In fact, a recent study highlighted that 90% of young people in the U.S. play video games and that 85% of those gamers are violent, with most likely to be classified with a 16 or 18 age rating.
There are, perhaps, many violent games that are, perhaps, too easy for young children to obtain. These video games are easily available to anyone with an email address or online presence as they can be bought online, without sufficient age checks. Whilst ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Grand Theft Auto’ (both rated 18) are expensive to buy (about £50 each), ‘Fortnite’ (rated 12) is free and available on all consoles and devices. ‘Fortnite’ is one of the most popular games to play with over 250 million players worldwide.
Having proper age restrictions for 16 and 18 games and banning free violent games could stop young people obtaining these games easily from the internet. It would mean, at the very least, that an adult would have to be aware of what their children are buying and therefore playing.
Time spent playing video games can have a detrimental effect on aggression levels. It is not unusual for a young person to spend up to 8 hours in a room on their own with their eyes glued to a game. This can cause them to feel lonely and isolated, whilst simultaneously raising aggression levels. Studies have shown that the effects of isolated play on young people is heightened as they are often not mature enough to understand the changing emotions the games trigger.
As part of the research for this article, I have been playing ‘Fortnite’ and I feel that I don’t get aggressive during or after playing but, some of my friends can. This may be because they are generally a lot more competitive than me and can become over-competitive whilst playing. So, is it really more to do with people’s personalities than then game itself?
Despite my opening statement that there is evidence to suggest that violent games can make you violent, another recent study shows there is no clear link between such games and aggression levels. More likely, any violence caused is as a result of other external factors, such as a poor home environment and exposure to violent behaviours in the real world. Research clearly shows that children that grow up in an aggressive and violent home are much more likely to be aggressive and violent in the future.
For most children, we can conclude, that whilst these violent games may not be desirable, they do not automatically result in real life aggressive behaviours.