2. There has been a long standing debate over whether violent video
games cause violence in children or not
• Some believe that exposure to violence will cause a child to become violent
(Anderson, Gentile & Buckley, 2007).
• Others believe that it is the responsibility of the parent/guardian to ensure
that the children know the difference between fantasy (video games) and
reality (real life). Furthermore, a child who is old enough to play violent
video games should be able to grasp the concept of fantasy and know that
the behavior in such a fantasy is both inappropriate and unacceptable to
demonstrate in reality.
• There have been a profound number of studies relating to the effects of
violent video games on children. However, those studies may differ in what
exactly they are studying (i.e. short term effects, long term effects, and
amount of exposure vs. amount of violence exhibited).
3. Assessing Previous Studies
• Studies have been conducted that compare the aggression in children
decades ago and the aggression in children currently. The studies conducted
comparing the two periods in time does show that aggression in children is
much higher than it was then (Kirsh, 2012). However, that is not the only
factor that should be considered when comparing the two.
– It is also known that there are many more households that have video game systems as
compared to the era when Nintendo’s and Atari’s were most popular.
– It was uncommon to have such a gaming system in the home then. Now it is uncommon
to not have these systems in the home. Therefore, it is safe to assume that children are
being exposed to the violence within those video games at a higher rate (Kirsh, 2012).
– It would also be fair to say that since more homes have these systems, children have
more time to play these games and the more time they spend playing games, the less time
they are spending with their family. When they are playing games in their rooms they are
isolated from others and that gives them the opportunity to become engrossed in the
game. It is about getting into the same mind set as needed to perform at the maximum
potential and get the results they desire at the end of the game.
4. Assessing Previous Studies
• Other studies have been conducted that measures responses directly after a
person is exposed to video game violence.
• This, also, is not valid in testing the long term effects of video game
violence in children.
– A particular study was conducted on college students who were split into two groups.
One group played a violent video game while the other played a nonviolent one. After
twenty minutes of playing, the students were given a questionnaire that they believed to
be unrelated to the games. The questions asked that they finish the story. For
example, one was about a man who was just rear ended in an accident. It asked that the
students write what they think may have happened next. Those who played the violent
game gave violent-type answers while the others were mainly nonviolent responses
(Argosy University, n.d.).
– The study was listed as studying violent video games and the after effects of being
exposed to them. However, it asked only about their thoughts in the minutes after playing
violent video games. It didn’t measure their violent behavior. Furthermore, the study did
not follow these students for years or even months after the exposure to measure the
levels of aggression (Argosy University, n.d.).
5. Assessing Previous Studies
• Other studies have shown a great link between aggression and violent video
– Many of them use only two games and two groups of participants.
– For the most part, the participants are not fully screened (i.e. exposure to other types of
violence, violent behavior already documented) and the sample sizes are extremely small
(Anderson, Gentile & Buckley, 2007).
– The variables are not considered and the sample size is far too small to be able to
generalize them (Egenfeldt-Nielsen, Smith, & Tosca, 2008).
It is these types of studies that are misconstrued and believed to show
violent video games cause violence.
6. Parental Support and Involvement
• Being that children need parental support to develop, having a lack of
support from their parents may cause the child to become defensive to the
world around them. Inappropriate behavior may be subsequent to that
reaction to the world (Lampinen & Sexton-Radek, 2010).
• Parental outlook and knowing their children prior to purchasing and/or
allowing them to play certain video games is crucial.
– Parents should be aware of what games their children are playing and how they are
reacting to such games is crucial to preventing any possible problems that may arise
(Egenfeldt-Nielsen, Smith, & Tosca, 2008).
– There is also a strong need for parents to have zero tolerance on violence in their
children. They must understand that there is a difference between what they are doing in
the video game and how they act and react to situations in real life.
7. Being Abused/Seeing Violence in the Home
• It is a fact that being abused or witnessing violence within the home will
lead to violence in a child (Argosy University, n.d.).
• The more children see violence in the home, the more likely they are to use
it when they deem it necessary (Lampinen & Sexton-Radek, 2010).
• It is also a fact that those exposed to violence in the home and those who
are physically abused have higher levels of aggression than those not
abused or not exposed to violence within the family unit (Argosy
• If a parent is doubtful about whether or not the child has the mental
capabilities to handle the violence, then the game should not be allowed.
Any shred of doubt should be all that is needed to come to a decision.
8. Peer and Other Influences
• Violence in other types of media, peer influences, inner-city living, and
personality types are some of the other factors that can increase or cause
aggression and violence in children (Ferguson, 2009).
• There is also violence in most cartoons and television shows. A majority of
children have access to televisions that broadcast these cartoons and shows.
Some cartoons show violence only towards the ‘bad guys’ and those using
violence against them are only trying to stop them from doing bad things.
This could tell kids that violence in some situations is not only alright but
expected. In all actuality, ‘good’ violence is violence nonetheless.
• Many children just want to fit in with their peers and will do most anything
to gain their respect and acceptance. If that means using violence on others
then they will do just that.
9. Peer and Other Influences
• Children who grow up in inner-cities are exposed to more violence
(Ferguson, 2009). Therefore, they learn that violence is the problem solver
and are not as hesitant to use it when they deem it necessary.
• It is also important to note that some children’s personalities are more
violent than others (Power, 2000).
• This is an important aspect of violence in children that should be taken into
consideration when doing studies that measure violence in children and any
potential causes of it.
10. Predisposed Violent Tendencies
• There are many other valid, influential factors of a child’s life that may lead
to or cause violence in children, not just video games.
– Children who have violent type personalities will demonstrate violence more often than
– Lampinen and Sexton-Radek (2010) discuss the possibility that certain types of children
may seek out these types of games. For example, a child who has underlying issues may
desire to play the games that are teen or mature rated.
– Fruedian view can also be applied to this topic. Children who play these types of games
may just be trying to release some anger (Russell & Jarvis, 2003). It would make sense
that they would want to play the violent type games rather than the educational or Mario-
In summary, there are a number of different factors that can lead to
violence and/or aggression in children. It is not simply just a video game that
they play. Many times it is much more than that. There is a wealth of research
that shows a positive link between video game violence and violence in
children. However, that is not to mean that the studies were conducted by
qualified professionals and all variables were considered and addressed in an
appropriate manner within the study.
There are numerous other factors that could play a role in aggression.
In children, it is hard to see all of these on the outside without questioning or
probing of some kind. Some children are better than most adults at hiding their
true feelings and looking like a normal, well adjusted child to others. One
cannot assume that any child in these studies do not have any predisposed
violent tendencies. Otherwise the blame will be placed on the video game
usage rather than finding out what is really behind it.
12. There have been numerous studies done, but that does not imply
that the majority of those studies are correct. Every aspect
possible including those mentioned in this literature review need
to be considered prior to reaching a valid verdict. Also, more
focus should be on the long term effects of video game violence
rather than the short term effects. Just one valid study that
considers all variable of a child’s life that could impact those
results could supersede previous studies done to date. It is all
about the validity of a study, not just having the majority of
people agree the results.
• Anderson, C. A., Gentile, D. A., & Buckley, K. E. (2007). Violent video
game effects on children and adolescents: Theory, research, and public
policy. New York, NY: Oxford
• Argosy University. (n.d.). An overview of psychology: It’s past &
present, your future (Custom edition). New York, NY: Custom
• Dowd, N., Singer, D., & Fretwell-Wilson, R. (2006). Handbook of
children, culture and violence. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
• Egenfeldt-Nielsen, S., Smith J. H., & Tosca, S. P. (2008). Understanding
video games: The essential introduction. New York, NY: Routledge
• Ferguson, C. J. (2009). Violent crime: Clinical and social implications.
Sage: Thousand Oaks, CA
• Kirsh, S. (2012). Children, Adolescents, and media violence: A critical look
at the research (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage
• Lampinen, J. M. & Sexton-Radek, K. (2010). Protecting children from
violence: Evidence-based interventions. New York, NY: Psychology Press
• Power, G. T. (2000). Play and exploration in children and animals.
Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc
• Russell, J. & Jarvis, M. (2003). Angels on applied psychology. UK: Nelson
Notas del editor
The debate over the potential consequences of violent video games effects on children continues to be debated. While it is true that there have been numerous studies completed on this topic, it does not mean that all the results are accurate, nor does it mean that the results can be applied to all aspects of aggression and/or violence in children stemming from violent video games. Some of the studies that have done to date will be further assessed. Study components used in those will be considered. From that, more accurate study components will be recommended for current and future studies which will result in more accurate study results. Accurate results can then be generalized and used to form accurate conclusions on this subject.
The purpose of this literature review is to examine the variables that affect violent tendencies in children. This will be done by assessing previous studies and looking into the variables used to determine whether those studies should be the determining factor in putting the blame on video games. The paper will also explore other possible causes or reasons for children to exhibit violent behavior and how those behaviors are the same as the ones found in children who play violent video games (Russell & Jarvis, 2003).
It should be completely unacceptable for the child to demonstrate any violence and the video game should be limited, if not banned, from the child following any outbreaks. Furthermore, these conditions should be clearly stated to the child and understood by the child. If the child is unable to understand the conditions, it is a good indication that they are too young to play the games (Aboujaoude & Koran, 2010).