Video games have become their own industry that have revolutionized every part of entertainment ranging from television all the way to sports. Through all the different companies and organizations, it generates about 19 billion dollars in revenue annually, which is much more compared to Hollywood or any other competing form of entertainment. This industry was created and is still evolving from products that are so mesmerizing that people of all ages stay up all night in front of a store before it opens to receive them. How did the miniscule and intense arcade games transform into the high-tech and high definition games out today such as Counter Strike, World of Warcraft, and League of Legends? It is not just about the circuit boards and wiring in the technology, but it is about the people who were all driven by at least one thing: whether it was an obsession, dreams, family, goals, etc. It is mainly about the programmers and developers or masterminds behind the games such as Kim Taek-Jin who specializes in the creation of MMORPG’s, the creator of Minecraft Markus “Notch” Persson, and Gabe Newell the owner of valve corporation.These programmers and developers created the entire entity of “gaming culture” and later helped lead the swarm of people to the internet and the modern game industry we see today - the one people tend to blame for violence, lack of social relationships, and poor academic performance in adolescents. These people and many more discovered how to get a whole generation of young people to grab a controller and get hooked on video gaming, and the effects of this addiction to video games has had a profound impact on this generation.
Violence in adolescents, specifically young males, has many people convinced that this aggressive behavior derives from video games or them spending too much time behind a screen. In their article, “Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggressive Behavior, Aggressive Cognition, Aggressive Affect, Physiological Arousal, and Prosocial Behavior”, Craig Anderson and Brad J. Bushman provide statistics on how much time young men play video games claiming that “Among 8- to 13-year old boys, the average is more than 7.5 hrs per week ...13.3% of men entering college played at least 6 hours per week as high school seniors. By 1999, that figure has increased to 14.8%.” (par. 10) Clearly this number has gone up significantly since the late nineties due to the increase in the quality and quantity of technology. The violent material that this new form of technology has brought up in violent video games affects the cognitive abilities of young males.
Depending on the circumstances, it is possible that aggressive actions can take place in nonviolent games as well if a person becomes aggravated and the game turns from being entertaining to being a nuisance. These nonviolent games that can cause players to have these emotions develop aggressive symptoms through the thoughts and feelings in the players’ mind. However, violent video games only engage a person’s aggressive side through long term use. According to Anderson and Bushman the “long-term effects of exposure to violent media result primarily from the development, rehearsal, and eventual automatization of aggressive knowledge structures such as perceptual schemata, social expectations, and behavioral scripts.” (par. 25)
Whether the content of a video game or media someone consumes seems violent or not through long term exposure it can cause aggressive thoughts which in turn will eventually lead to aggressive behavior and actions unless people can find a way to balance the time spent on video games with other activities.
As more and more video games are produced with more and more technology, online communication becomes the norm for adolescent conversation. This young generation have developed multiple methods for communicating with friends, strangers, and everything between. The most common instant messaging apps or platforms such as snapchat, Imessage, instagram, and many more are used when people want to communicate and keep in contact with offline or disconnected friends, Whether it be with friends that they see on an everyday basis or friends that they have not seen for a while. The exact details of their daily lives are placed on these different media platforms for practically everyone to see. In the same way, video games have become increasingly popular for online communication as can be seen In the article “Online Communication and Adolescent Relationships” by Kaveri Subrahmanyam and Patricia Greenfield. Subrahmanyam and Greenfield explain how “The digital landscape continues to be populated with anonymous online contexts such as bulletin boards, massively multiplayer online games (MMOG), massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPG), and chat rooms where users can look for information, find support, play games, role play, or simply engage in conversation.” (par. 15) The expansion of these new forms of communication has an impact on adolescent relationships with their friends, family, and acquaintances.
Video games have grown this young generation’s existing friendships and will continue to do so. However, while friendships continue to grow in video games, it may not be the best option for the mental health of those who play video games. According to Greenfield and Subrahmanyam “teens feel less psychologically close to their
partners than to their partners in phone and face-to-face interactions.” (par. 21) The better option for people who play video games would be to communicate with friends face-to-face or in person to create meaningful relationships that will last for a while. Online friendships can easily disband unless the two people have known each other for multiple years or are actually friends in real life. It depends on the type of relationship two people have, but if online communication in video games is used to maintain current friendships or friendships where the two individuals know each other, their relationship will continue and grow. Nonetheless, if an individual is communicating with a person they hardly know or feels like a stranger to them, the connection will fall off, probably for the best.
When it comes to family relationships in adolescents through video games, there is very clear evidence that playing video games damages adolescents’ relationships with their parents and siblings, more so the connection of the parent with his/her child. In a study about the effect of technology in the modern family explained in Greenfield and Subrahmanyam’s article, it was found that “when the working spouse, usually the father, came through the door at the end of the day, the other spouse and children were often so absorbed in what they were doing that they greeted him only about one-third of the time, usually with a perfunctory “hi”.” (par. 34) The video game gadgets and gaming systems hooked the children which led to their parents being unable to get their attention. These online worlds cause family relations between parents and sibling to crumble unless adolescents can find a balance or have been disciplined enough to know how much time spent on video games is enough.
The third and the most unsafe relationship affected through video games is that with acquaintances or people that hardly know each other. Due to the fact that online relationships do not have the same face-to-face aspect of communicating in person, such as tone of voice, body language, and the overall mood, online communication in video games is not as fulfilling as a conversation someone could have in person. When adolescents communicate with strangers or people that are not a part of their daily lives or part of the offline group of friends, this creates a weak bond between the two, eventually leading to the conversation to crumble and the slow deterioration of the relationship. Adolescents in video games should question their relationships with people, especially those that they do not know too well. Greenfield and Subrahmanyam provided a statistic stating “that 40 percent of fourteen- to twenty-two-year-olds...contacted online by a stranger whom they did not know before.” (par. 42) There is a huge risk that the online stranger could be a predator or a troll as well, so If the relationship continues to grow, teenagers should always be weary of the questions they are being asked and the information they give out because the impact that these weaker interactions can have on their lives can be just as critical as the impact of the connections with family and friends.
The third area where video games can influence an adolescents’ life is through their academic activities and their performance on them. Many school districts have begun blocking electronic media in schools, as well as limit the wifi to allow the students use to only a very select number of educational websites, in hopes of improving academic performance in the school. However, the problem is mainly at home, so anything the school does will provide close to no results. In the article “Does Recreational Computer use affects High School Achievement” written by Alex J. Bowers and Matthew Berland, Bowers and Berland describe a study that “consisted of 482 middle school students from across 20 Michigan schools...internet use and video game use were unrelated to mathematics and visual space skills.” (par. 12) The positive aspect of video games would be a boost in reading abilities for younger students, the downside would be the negative connection between time spent on video games and the students’ GPA. More time spent on video games and internet use cuts into the students’ time for academic activities. Mathematical skills were not influenced in any way. On the other hand each student is different and their computer use can have different impacts on their academic performance levels.
The level of student achievement can not only be based off of the amount of time a student stays behind a screen playing video games, there are many more conditions to take into consideration. Contrary to the study explained above, In another study conducted on around four thousand-five hundred 15 year olds, It was discovered that there is a relationship between video game use and academic achievement. Bowers and Berland analyzed “the relationship between having a computer in the home…no longer significantly related to achievement. The study demonstrated that academic performance increased only in the students who considered themselves “smart” users, whose who do not use computers just for gaming, but for other aspects as well, like using discussion boards, watching videos on youtube, etc. These students were seen to have an overall increase in academic levels, specifically in math. Those who spent most of the time gaming on computers were seen to have no increase in academic levels. There needs to be a balance between video games and other activities done on the gaming system if adolescent performance levels in school want to increase.
Video games have long been seen to have a negative effect on many teenagers’ lives. Nonetheless, the industry will continue to grow at an alarming rate. The violent material that this new form of technology has brought up in video games affects the cognitive abilities of teenagers (specifically young males) in violent video games. Depending on the circumstances, it is possible that aggressive actions can take place in nonviolent games as well if a person becomes aggravated and the game turns from being entertaining to being a nuisance. The only solution to help adolescents would be to limit the time spent on games with violent content and find an interest in a different game or genre. Communication through video games can either have a positive or negative effect on social relationships. Relationships with friends can improve and grow, while relationships with family can weaken unless time spent on video games is supervised and under control. Connections with acquaintances or strangers in video games are risky and can turn out to be good, but it can turn out to be a predator or a troll in most cases. These types of interactions should be watched out for since their impact is just as important as those of a friend or family member. Finally, Academic performance is not just based on the amount of time spent on video games, plenty of other conditions need to be taken into account. The academic performance of an adolescent could be improved through video games if they use them wisely and limit time to other activities on their gaming systems as well. Video games have both a positive and negative aspect, but if adolescents use them wisely, balance them with other activities, and are wary of the consequences they can have on their social relationships, they can continue to use them.