On April 20, 1999 at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, these two young men carried out a shooting rampage. They killed twelve fellow students and a teacher, as well as wounding twenty-four others, before committing suicide. It is considered to be the deadliest school shooting, and the second deadliest attack on a school in US History (DeGaetano 47). Both of these boys were drowning in a violent pop culture of bloody movies and video games. High on the morning of April 20, 1999, before the massacre, Dylan and Eric filmed their own back story videos, explaining their aims and motives.
Its going to be like f**king Doom! Harris said on one of the tapes, referring to his favorite shoot-em-up video game. Tick-tock, tick, tick? Ha!? Straight out of Doom! (qtd. in Steyer 70). These two young boys had played this game very often and were so used to the violence of killing innocent people with no remorse. They gained the experience and knowledge from this video game on how to kill other human beings while getting a sense of satisfaction. A direct link between violent video games and increasing rates of violence among children is right in your backyard with this chilling story.
In Paducah, Kentucky a fourteen-year-old boy, Michael Carneal, steals a gun from a neighbors house, brings it to school, and fires eight shots into a student prayer meeting that is breaking up. Prior to stealing the gun, he had never shot a real handgun in his life. The FBI says that the average experienced law enforcement officer, in the average shootout, at an average range of seven yards, hits with approximately one bullet in five. So how many hits did Michael Carneal make? He fired eight shots; ho got eight hits, on eight different kids.
Five of them were headshots, and the other three were upper torso. The result was three dead and one paralyzed for life. Nowhere in law enforcement or military history can an equivalent achievement be found. And these from a boy on his first try. How did Michael Carneal acquire this kind of killing ability? Simple: practice. At the age of fourteen he had practiced killing thousands of people. His simulators were point-and-shoot video games he played for hundreds of hours in video arcades and in the comfort of his own home.
His superhuman accuracy, combined with the fact that he stood still, firing two handed, and firing only one shot at each target, are all behaviors that are completely unnatural to either trained or native shooters, behaviors that could only have been learned in a video game. If you do not think these games resemble the real thing, you should know that the military and law enforcement communities use video marksmanship training simulators to supplement their training. And the most popular simulator the United States Army uses in a minor modification of a popular Super Nintendo game.
Across America we are reaping the bitter harvest of this training as ever more kids are shooting other individuals that they have a grudge against. A horrific development in this is that rather than just stopping with their intended target, these kids keep firing- and a simple grudge turns into a mass murder (DeGaetano 4, 9, 74). As a player in the video game your goal is simply to rack up the highest score as quickly as possible. And, many of the video games (such as House of the Dead, Golden-eye, or Turock) give bonus effects for headshots (Gerdes 61).
These kind of video games provide the motor reflexes responsible for over 75% of the firing on the modern battlefield. In addition, they provide violent suggestions and reinforcement for violent behavior. These games teach young people to kill with all the precision of a military training program, but none of the character training that goes along with it (Gerdes 62). For children who get the right training at home and who have theability to distinguish between real and unreal consequences, they are still games.
But for children who are especially vulnerable to the lure of violence, they can be far more. Even more than violent television and movies, violent video games have been shown to increase aggression among those who play them. It seems as if even a brief exposure to these games can temporarily increase ones aggressiveness. Researchers stated that Violent video games provide a forum for learning and practicing aggressive solutions to conflict situations. New aggression-related scripts can become more and more accessible for use when real-life conflict situations arise (qtd.
in Steyer 90). One study reveals that young men who are habitually aggressive may be especially vulnerable to the aggression-enhancing effects of repeated exposure to violent games (Violent). Violent video games have stronger effects on childrens aggression because the games are highly appealing and interactive. Also, the games are rewarding violent behavior, and because children repeat these behaviors over and over as the play. The more often children rehearse violent acts; the more likely they are to commit them in real life.
This is what makes electronic games different from more inactive experiences of violence, in movies and on television. Through practice, the use of violence can become a learned response- a scripted reflex like the trigger rate effectively refined by the army (Steyer 90-91). There can be intense psychological effects from playing interactive video games. Recent research has begun to find connections between childrens playing of violent video games and later aggressive behavior.
A research review done by the National Coalition on Television Violence found that 9 of 12 research studies on the impact of violent video games on normal children and adolescents reported harmful effects. In general, while video game playing has not been implicated as a direct cause of severe psychopathology, research suggests that there is a short-term relationship between playing violent video games and increased aggressive behavior in younger children (Steyer 130).
Violent video games appear to also put the human brain in a mood to fight, according to a new study from Michigan State University. In the study, 13 males played the first-person shooter game Tactical Ops: Assault on Terror while in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) system, which measures brain activity. The brain scans of 11 of thesubjects exhibited large observed effects, a characteristic of aggressive thoughts. The researchers said the pattern of brain activity could be considered to be cause by virtual violence.
fMRI monitors the brain and examines how different types of physical sensation or activity stimulate it. Sight, sound, touch and other physical sensations show up on an fMRI image. Increased blood flow to a section of the brain indicated increased activity. Playing violent video games like Doom, Wolfenstein 3D or Mortal Combat can increase a persons aggressive thoughts, feelings and behavior both in laboratory settings and in actual life, according to two studies.
Furthermore, violent video games may be more harmful than violent television and movies because they are interactive, very engrossing and require the player to identify with the aggressor, say the researchers. Psychologists Craig A. Anderson, Ph. D. , and Karen E. Dill, Ph. D. said, One study reveals that young men who are habitually aggressive may be especially vulnerable to the aggression-enhancing effects of repeated exposure to violent games. The other study reveals that even a brief exposure to violent video games can temporarily increase aggressive behavior in all types of participants.
The first study involved 227 college students who completed a measure of trait aggressiveness and reported their actual aggressive behaviors (delinquency) in the recent past. They also reported their video game playing habits. We found that students who reported playing more violent video games in junior and high school engaged in more aggressive behavior, said lead author Anderson, of Iowa State University. We also found that amount of time spent playing video games in the past was associated with lower academic grades in college.
In the second study, 210 college students played either a violent (Wolfenstein 3D) or nonviolent video game (Myst). A short time later, the students who played the violent video game punished an opponent (received a noise blast with varying intensity) for a longer period of time than did students who had played the nonviolent video game. Violent video games provide a forum for learning and practicing aggressive solutions to conflict situations, said Dr. Anderson. In the short run, playing a violent video game appears to affect aggression by priming aggressive thoughts.
Longer-term effects are likely to be longer lasting as well, as the player learns and practices new aggression-related scripts thatcan become more and more accessible for use when real-life conflict situations arise. One major concern is the active nature of the learning environment of the video game, say the authors. This medium is potentially more dangerous than exposure to violent television and movies, which are known to have substantial effects on aggression and violence (Video 220-235).
Violent video games can increase aggressive behavior in children and adolescents, both in the short- and long-term, according to an empirical review of the last 20 years of research. These findings are presented at the 113th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association in Washington, DC. According to researchers Jessica Nicoll, B. A. , and Kevin M. Kieffer, Ph. D. , of Saint Leo University, youth who played violent video games for a short time experienced an increase in aggressive behavior following the video game.
One study showed participants who played a violent game for less than 10 minutes rate themselves with aggressive traits and aggressive actions shortly after playing. In another study of over 600 8th and 9th graders, the children who spent more time playing violent video games were rated by their teachers as more hostile than other children in the study. The children who played more violent video games had more arguments with authority figures and were more likely to be involved in physical altercations with other students. They also performed more poorly on academic tasks.
Violent video game players tend to imitate the moves that they just acted out in the game they played, said Dr. Kieffer. For example, children who played violent karate games duplicated this type of behavior while playing with friends. These findings demonstrate the possible dangers associated with playing this type of video game over and over again. The authors also found that boys tend to play video games for longer periods of time than girls. Boys may play more of these types of video games, said Kieffer, because women are portrayed in subordinate roles and the girls may find less incentive to play.
But those girls who did play violent video games, according to the review, were more likely to prefer playing with an aggressive toy and were more aggressive when playing. Both Nicoll and Kieffer say that the recent changes that put age limits and rating systems on games make it more difficult for young children to purchase and play these video games. But, say the psychologists,future research needs to explore why many children and adolescents prefer to play a violent video game rather than play outside, and why certain personalities are drawn to these types of games (Playing).
The observational studies looking at childrens free play, tended to show that children become more aggressive after either playing or observing a violent video game. At a theoretical level, these evidences suggest empirical data supporting the social learning theory. As others have cautioned, the validity and reliability of the procedures used to measure aggressions should be questioned (Griffiths, 99; Cooper & Mackie, 19). The limiting conditions under which video games may have an affect that were considered were gender, age, and class/level of education.
With regards to gender, although few studies looking at the differential effects were found, the study mentioned above suggests that females are more affected by video game violence than males. Cooper and Mackie, which inexperience with video games led to greater arousal, suggested one hypothesis for this difference. Another possibility may be that since males have been found is have more experience with video games; they may have become more desensitized to the violence than females.
Once again, more research is necessary to draw conclusions on the differential effects of video game violence on gender. When age was look at it was discovered that age played no significant part in determining if a player was affected by the content of video games or not. The difference of age showed up in the manifestation of its affect. Herz introduces an interesting explanation of this increase in aggressive behavior of children. A large number of the studies involved adolescent children; these children are at an age when they are naturally violent, aggressive and moody.
So when put in a situation with increased agitation like many of the studies involved, increases in aggressive behavior may be natural regardless of stimulation. While this particular situation is not true of older students the method of study does need to be questioned. The effects of education levels and economic class have not yet been looked at, possibly due to a lack in conclusive evidence showing an overall relation (Herz, 51-59). I couldnt make myself clearer when I say that there is a deadly link between this kind of graphic imagery and the escalating incidence of youth violence.
Violent video games are giving our children the practice and experience needed to act out these aggressive behaviors in the real world. If you dont think that these games resemble the real thing, you should take some time to play one of these games once. You will be absolutely shocked as to what our children are seeing on a daily basis.
Works Cited Cooper, Joel, & Mackie, Diane. Video Games and Aggression in Children. Journal of Applied Social Psychology. Vol. 16, No. 8, 726-744. DeGaetano, Gloria, and Dave Grossman.
Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill. New York: Crown, 1999. France, Bill. Violent video games are training children to kill. HeraldNet 18 Nov 2003. 19 Oct 2005 . Gerdes, Louis. Media Violence. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven, 2004. Griffiths, Mark. Violent Video Games and Aggression: A Review of the Literature. Aggression and Violent Behavior. Vol. 4, No. 10, 203-212. Herz, J. C. Joystick Nation: HowVideogames Ate Our Quartes, Won Our Hearts, and Rewired Our Minds. Toronto: Little, Brown & Company, 1997. Steyer, James P. The Other Parent.
New York: Atria Books, 2002. Video Games and Aggressive Thoughts, Feelings, and Behavior in the Laboratory and in Life, Craig A. Anderson, Ph. D. , Iowa State University of Science and Technology and Karen E. Dill, Ph. D. , Lenoir-Rhyne College, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 78, No. 4. Violent Video Games Can Increase Aggression. Science Daily. 25 Apr 2000. American Psychological Association. 02 Oct 2005 . Willenz, Pam. Playing violent video games can heighten aggression. Medical News Today 21 Aug 2005. 25 Nov 2005 .