By Jenny Sun
The long argument of whether playing computer games for extended periods of time affects adolescent behavior has never been at a more even stalemate. Not only does both sides have numerous valid arguments, each contention is thoroughly thought out and supported unlike most internet disputes.
On one side, if a child plays violent computer games for a long time, they often show more offensive behavior, but if he or she plays non-violent computer games, that child will be more willing to help others. This clearly shows that the effect of computer games on teenagers is significantly affected by the contents of games–but is this a good thing or bad thing?
In an experiment, psychologists randomly divided children into two groups: a group playing computer games containing violence and another group playing less violent computer games. Then, all subjects were exposed to the same emergency situation. The results showed that half of the children who played the milder game were helping others, while only fifth of the children in the other group did so. This study does not reveal that playing violent computer games and children’s levels violence are always linked, but that this effect is “quite significant.” Tests prove that children who play computer games with violent content in the long term tend to be more aggressive, and their compassion and willingness to help seem weakened.
For example, shooting games seem to encourage aggression in children. In addition, as rivals in computer games are often non-human, children in real life tend to use violence more easily with little concern. On the other hand, these games teach children to be aware of their surrounding and help practice hand-eye coordination as well as other vital skills such as teamwork with strangers.
This debate does not have a conclusion, but if parents are concerned over aggression, they can look at the ratings and reviews prior to buying the game. When children are the right age and mature enough, violent games can improve their teamwork, reaction time, and more.