Violent Video Games – What Are They Teaching Teens?

Are violent video games teaching teens that violence is an acceptable way to solve conflicts?

Violent Video Games

In a recent study, it was revealed that 97% of US kids age 12-17 play video games.  Further, it is estimated that more than half of all video games on the market today portray some form of violence.

Earlier this year, pediatric groups concluded that violent video games increase aggression.  In a related article, it was pointed out that we, as a nation, need to raise awareness of what young people are seeing online and educate ourselves about how games are shaping people’s thoughts and behavior.

Three years ago, the American Psychology Association created a task force and reported that research now demonstrates a link between violent video game use resulted in increased aggressive behavior and decreased social, emotional, moral behavior and empathy.

Further, the American Academy of Pediatrics has warned that violent media sets poor examples for kids.  “Video games, the Academy noted, should not use human or other living targets or award points for killing, because this teaches children to associate pleasure and success with their ability to cause pain and suffering to others.”  (July 2016 Guideline on Media Violence)

With new and innovative advances in technology platforms, virtual violence in video games plays out in realistic ways that include increased aggression, violent themes such as hand-to-hand combat, wars and shootings, crude language, increased bullying, fighting and violence toward women.

Virtual violence begs the question asked at the beginning of this blog: Are violent video games teaching teens and younger children that violence is an acceptable way to solve conflicts? There is now compelling evidence from research studies indicating that violent video game play does, indeed, increase psychological and physical aggression.

What can parents do?  Parents should take it upon themselves to research the video games their children want to play, take into consideration the rating of the game, and be mindful of possible long-term effects to ensure content is appropriate for the child’s age group.  With numerous educational video games on the market that focus on adventure, skill building, and critical thinking, children should be encouraged to play these games instead of violent games.

A Global Look at Cyberbullying Among Young Children and Teens

It is well documented that bullying has moved from the playground into our virtual world.  More and more families and educators have become aware that cyberbullying is a pervasive global issue impacting tens of thousands of young childrenteens (and adults) each day.  So, while awareness is gaining momentum, the question remains – Are numbers of cyberbullying incidents decreasing?

The Research

In an August 25, 2018 article published by Sam Cook in Internet Providers, he wrote, “While better connecting the world and democratizing information, the internet has also allowed individuals to hide behind masks of anonymity. The “faceless evil” of the internet is a growing threat for teens, specifically when it comes cyberbullying. Despite a recent ramp up of awareness campaigns, cyberbullying facts and statistics indicate the problem is not going away anytime soon.”

The article goes on to say “A 2007 Pew Research study found 32 percent of teens have been victims of some type of cyberbullying. Nearly a decade later, a 2016 study by the Cyberbullying Research Center found those numbers were almost unchanged. By 2016, just under 34 percent of teens reported they were victims of cyberbullying. Meanwhile, the National Crime Prevention Council puts that number much higher, at 43 percent.” (Cyberbullying facts and statistics for 2016-2018, Published by Sam Cook on August 25, 2018 in Internet Providers)

Social media is considered a primary source of online harassment.  Anonymity encourages cyberbullying for the simple reason that someone can send threatening or embarrassing messages or photos and not be seen or named.  Globally, whether teen or adult, ethnicity, gender, physical appearance and mental capabilities are fair game for online cyberbullying and harassment.

For young children and teens the way families and schools around the world recognize and respond to cyberbullying varies but, due to all the attention cyberbullying has received over the past few years, common tips and trends have surfaced in ways to recognize it, prevent it, know what to do if it happens to you and know what to do if you see it happen.