How Violence In Movies And Video Games Cause Aggression In Children

I will be discussing the possible influences of violent films and video games and the aggression they may cause on adolescent minds in this essay. According to The Establishment Survey, 8.2 million households in the UK during 2020 have access to gaming consoles e.g. Sony PlayStation, Microsoft Xbox, and Nintendo. The Oxford English Dictionary describes aggression as hostile or violent behaviour or attitudes. I will be researching violence and aggression and comparing it to violent films and video games. Within the essay, there will be contrasting examples for and against violence and aggression in films and video game and the positive and negative effect it may have on children. With the video game industry being the largest industry in entertainment, you could begin to wonder what sort of influence this may have.

The brain can be incredibly malleable but just how much of an impact can minor things have on the child’s mind. In 1958 Physicist William Higinbotham developed a tennis video game to show that science could be used for something other than war thus starting a new category that would revolutionise the entertainment industry for countless decades to come. However, with the intention of video games to be calm and playful in 1976 a game was invented by Exidy called the death race, due to code and distribution regulation changes in cinema production allowed displays of violence such as aggressively driving on-screen cars to hit stick figures to win points. (Kocurek, 2012). This was later made into an equally violent film in 2002 involving pedestrians being run down for national sport. This prompted great controversy and paved the way for other violent video games like Grand Theft Auto. Throughout history, games have become more violent and yet still more popular, as of today the highest rated popular game is Fortnight developed by Epic Games. This game being a 12+ rating includes one hundred players on an island killing each other until only one is left standing. Parents buying this game for children under the age rating are only facilitating the rise of violent games and have done so since they were invented almost forty-five years ago.

While video/computer games were only invented in the 1950s films have been on screen since the late eighteen hundreds, where government bodies like capitalist and communist dictated and manipulated what was shown (Petrie and Cabras 1991) therefore helping to inspire crazes and fads around the world. Only introducing age ratings in 1913, however not being enforced and mandatory until the 1950s when the X certificate was introduced and under sixteens were not allowed to watch an X-rated movie. Even with ratings being introduced most films were not rated for years after, for instance the movie The Wild One was initially released in 1953 but wasn’t rated until 1967 as an X movie.

If video games and films indeed cause aggression it is unclear every person especially parents will all have different opinions but without looking into the evidence of such experiments like the Bobo doll experiment (Bandura 1961) journals and articles its unclear, specifically as studies ignore other possible variables and there is not a lot of evidence provided. Even so, you can’t ignore the positives of films and video games such as the communal benefits and the rise of PSOC (psychological sense of community) which Pretty, Bishop, Fisher, and Sonn (2006) identified as beneficial to the development of identity and the building of resilience and well-being in everyday life. However, the increase of PSOC depends solely on the gameplay. A study written by Fong and Forster (2009) investigates this through a survey process involving 455 participants this was ‘ to determine whether SOVC (Sense of Virtual Community) and relationship motivation scores were different for gamers with different game playing preferences’ the results showing some gamers have social motivation for playing, similar to films, games create a common ground for conversations and similar interests. Comparable to studies like Bijyank, Korijn, and Bushman (2007) Bridging the Video Game Gap: Relating Games, Players, and Their Motivations. Results also show that gamers who have higher PSOC prefer MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) over other game types (stand-alone, LAN/WAN). This may be because MMORPGs deliver people with a sense of freedom and empowerment, they may not get in the real world (Winder, 2008) all of which could improve mental health and wellbeing. The same could be said with films from increasing social skills, awareness, and stress relief, for example watching a movie with suspense releases cortisol, which is the stress hormone into the brain, then is quickly followed by dopamine thus producing pleasure and relieving stress. Games and films may also be used to nurture rather than negatively affect especially with aiding visual learners, watching a movie may motivate students to build interest in the topic taught whilst increasing memory since students can easily repeat a movie rather than a whole lesson, adding a concept of fun by using a film or a game also increases memory and a deeper understanding. Video games can provide elements of interactivity that may stimulate learning in special needs children (Griffiths, 2002) particularly games purely designed for that purpose. However, compared to the rest of the population, the games industry as well as academia has largely ignored the minority special needs sector. 

Even with the lack of evidence provided to suggest that video games and films can cause aggression, one experiment stands out, (Bandura 1961, The Bobo doll experiment) this shows that not only when children are presented with aggressive films and games their more likely to imitate the behaviours shown (Landsford, 2016) but also become desensitized to violence and alters perceptions of their own violence. Films and video games can also have profound negative effects on health and social behaviours like obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, which could be prevented with more physically active gameplay, this however cannot be applied to films. This also cannot combat the social impact as the only social interaction is online which then limits the opportunity to practise real-life behaviour.

The undeniable proof that children are influenced by what they see and in turn imitate it shows that video games and films do cause aggression. Nevertheless, the positives heavily outweigh the negatives with far more evidence provided to show this. Preventing this should start with harsher age ratings and parental guidance so the age groups that are more susceptible aren’t being so heavily influenced. 

16 December 2021
Your Email

By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and  Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.

close thanks-icon

Your essay sample has been sent.

Order now
Still can’t find what you need?

Order custom paper and save your time
for priority classes!

Order paper now