Effects of Gaming Systems Gaming systems such as Xbox, PlayStation and the new Nintendo Wii can provide hours of entertainment for children and adults alike. One of the first commercial video
games, Pong was a simple theme based on the game of Ping Pong. As technology for
gaming systems was enhanced and graphics made more realistic, more aggressive and
violent games appeared on the market. Though some non-violent games are available
today for all systems, the majority are violent, aggressive and often contain sexuality.
An inspection of the games available on the shelves of Best Buy or even the local Wal-
Mart is evidence of this.
There are many experts in agreement that playing violent video games and playing
them for extended periods of time are causing children to become aggressive and anti
social in their behavior. There are also experts who disagree. There is no question that
constant playing of video games can lead to childhood obesity. Nearly everyone can
agree that lack of exercise in children causes weight gain. Children who spend all their
spare time in activities of any type that lack physical exertion will cause weight gain.
It has been difficult to prove that violent video games leads to aggressive behavior, due
to limitations of research studies. As games become more violent however, there is
more evidence to show that violent games cause aggressive behavior.
It is a logical assumption to conclude that violent video games lead to aggressive
behavior, given what is known about violent TV programs and movies. Fifty years of
research have provided strong evidence that even brief exposure to violent TV or movie
scenes causes significant increases in aggression. Repeated exposure of children to
media violence increases their aggressiveness as young adults. Media violence is a
significant risk factor in youth violence (Anderson amp. Bushman, 2004). It follows that
violence in video games, which are increasingly realistic in their depiction of violence
Effects of Gaming Systems 2
and its effects, should cause similar effects on youth.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association rely on
scientific evidence that shows violence of television leads to aggressive behavior in
children. Social Scientists also suggest that aggressive behavior should increase in
children in the future, based on what is known about child behavior. Children imitate the
actions of those whom they identify with. The actions of main characters, who are often
the perpetrators of violence in games leave children with a distorted idea of who they
should mimic or emulate. Repetition increases learning. Video games involve a great
deal of repetition. If the games are violent, then the effect is a behavioral rehearsal for
violent activity. Rewards increase learning, and video games are based on a reward
system (Walsh, 2001).
Obesity, violence and aggression are not the only effects that gaming systems and
video games have on children. Those who feel that they have little control over their
external environments can become anti social in behavior. Video games offer a world
where children have control over characters, actions and outcomes. This can lure
children to the game even more, creating a children who become more withdrawn from
family and peers. Children may loose interest in activities and fall behind in school
work. Such behavior is well documented in adults, who have lost families and ruined
careers due to extensive video gaming. This is similar to the effects that viewing
pornography have on adults. It is just about sex, but rather provides an escape from the
realities of life, whether from a wife, family responsibilities or some other expectation.
All games have a rating system similar to that of movies and TV programs. Still
parents allow their children to play video games, often for hours at a time. Video games
may keep children out of trouble and off the streets. Parents often do not think about the
Effects of Gaming Systems 3
long term effects. Pediatricians and school counselors should promote responsible
and monitored video gaming for children of all ages. It’s hard to say no, when children
see what their friends do in their spare time with respect to video games. Limits should
be set on amounts of time spent gaming, as well as the content of games. Parents should
be made aware of all the effects gaming can have on their children. They should balance
the daily lives of their children with proper exercise, limited gaming(an hour or less is
recommended, and limited viewing of violent content, whatever the source.
Walsh, D. (2001). Video Game Violence and Public Policy. Retrieved July 12, 2007
Anderson, C amp. Bushman, B. (2004). Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggressive
Behavior, Aggressive Cognition, Aggressive Affect, Physiological Arousal and
Prosocial Behavior. Retrieved July 11, 2007 from