Ever since I can remember, video games have been an important part of my life. They provide a thrilling escape from the steady pace of everyday life and allow us to experience fascinating worlds through the eyes of a multitude of curious characters. However, many allegations have been presented against violent video games for their potentially negative effects on the children who play them.
The widespread enjoyment of video games is clear. Approximately “90 percent of U.S. kids age 8 to 16 play video games…” and for “…about 13 hours a week” (2). Some studies indicate that kids “playing lots of violent video games had more aggressive behavior months later” (2). Arguments over the veracity of these studies and to what extent children are affected by violence in video games continue today.
A recent Supreme Court case brought such arguments to the nation’s attention. California had chosen to ban the sale of violent video games to children. The case went to the Supreme Court, and the controversial law was reversed with a majority vote. However, Justice Brenner did not agree and prepared the dissenting statement, citing a neuroscience research article that highlighted the negative effects of violent videogames on children. Justice Brenner cited the study, stating that “ [c]utting-edge neuroscience has shown that ‘virtual violence in video game playing results in those neural patterns that are considered characteristic for aggressive cognition and behavior(3).” Although the law was removed due to the first amendment guarantee for the protection of the freedom of speech, Justice Brenner still believed that the potentially harmful effects of video games on children outweighed the right of children to purchase these games.
I have definitely played many a violent video game and felt a little “worked up” afterwards, but I don’t know if playing such games had any future effects on my behavior. I have generally been a calm, quiet person, and if anything video games have helped expand my creative instincts and ability to try and think outside of the box. However, there still may be problems with children playing games involving shooting and death and I can only hope that each individual family provides their children with what games they feel would be appropriate for their age; violent shooting games are one example of “entertainment” that younger children should definitely not be playing.