Negative effects of video games on youth

Written by james schmidt
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Negative effects of video games on youth
Video games can distract youth from school work. (video game frustration image by Lisa Turay from

The impact of gaming on today's youth is a highly controversial subject. There are two schools of though when it comes to the negative impact of video games on youth. One opinion asserts that violent and suggestively themed video games result in delinquent behaviour amongst youth. However, other sources claim that this behaviour is the result of other factors and that video games only negatively impact youth that are already susceptible to antisocial behaviour.

There is currently no consensus within the scientific community as to whether video games have any or all of the negative effects listed.

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Violent Behavior in Youth

Sonya Brady of the University of California San Francisco and Professor Karen Matthews of the University of Pittsburgh argue that violent video games increase violent behaviour amongst youth. To prove this, they set up two groups, one playing "Grand Theft Auto III" and another playing a game based on the popular cartoon "The Simpsons." The individuals who were assigned to play "Grand Theft Auto III" were administered tests after playing and were found to be more likely to view criminal and immoral activities to be acceptable. Henry Jenkins, a professor at MIT cites statistical evidence that violence has gone down amongst youth since the introduction of video games.

Desensitisation to Violence

David Grossman, a former military psychologist, argues that video games, even if they do not directly result in increased crime statistics, create youth that are desensitised to violent behaviour. He bases this evidence on the fact that the American military utilises computer generated simulations to train soldiers for combat. Henry Jenkins counters this point by stating that the military uses games that are designed for the purposes of training, while video games sold for home use are designed for entertainment.

Social Isolation

Video games are cited as being a factor in decreased social participation amongst youth. It is argued that this social isolation leads to children who are likely to become dependent on video games and shirk school and work responsibilities. Henry Jenkins cites a study which indicates that the majority (60 per cent) of gamers play socially. In addition, sociologist Talmadge Wright argues that online gaming provides an alternative method of socialisation and can result in people who are otherwise socially isolated being accepted in an online community.

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