Virtually since the invention of TV the society (parents, teachers, legislators as well s mental health professionals) has wondered about the content of television programmes and the impact they have on children (Van S & Wiegman O, 1997). This has led Psychology studies to assess the correlation between the two comparatives. The findings point out that there is link between social learning with the ability of children to copy what they see (Anderson C & Dill K, 2000).
In 1982, report of National Institute of Mental Health, observed major effects of viewing violent TV programs. This report acknowledged that children exposed to violent TV programs may in later stages of development become less caring to the pain and suffering of others, they may also dread the world around them in addition to developing aggressive or harmful behaviour toward others.
The researches that ensued indicated that children who had abundant time viewing violent TV programs while young, had higher level of aggressiveness as they attained their teenage. Some studies have also attempted to link viewing of violent TV programs in children with late adulthood criminal activities leading to arrests and prosecution.
On the other hand violent video games are recent technological inventions with inadequate research. However Craig A. Anderson et al have shown in their study that viewing and playing of violent video games enhances one’s aggressive thoughts, feelings and behaviour.
The study concludes that as far as TV and video violence is concerned; video games are more harmful than TV movies as they are highly interactive as well as engrossing and require the player to identify with the aggressor (Van S & Wiegman O, 1997).
In a situation where a child can watch violent TV program for 28 hours a week, the child will have witnessed as many as 8,000 murders by the time she or he is 11 years. Nevertheless in some violent programs the killers are portrayed as getting away with the murders in as well as exhibiting lack of remorsefulness and responsibility. Socializing with such violence tends to make the child more immune to brutality in addition to aggression. On the other hand, others tend to dread living in such awful/cruel society (Anderson C & Dill K, 2000). Physiology and psychology studies link the biological mechanism of human beings with exposure of children to violent TV/Video games.
The social element in video games design children’s attitude aimed at gender roles. Some video games for instance Nintendo, women are exhibited as persons who should be acted upon as opposed to them being initiators of action, to some extend they are shown as victims. Children viewing such games are negatively inclined towards women, which can have negative impacts on the society in general.
A meta analysis study on the effects of violent TV and video games on children shows that they have greater impacts due to the following reasons: children tend to imitate character actions especially whom they identify with. The child observing violent TV and video games takes the position of the shooter or the actor; the video games naturally need active participation as opposed to passive observation; repeated observation leads to increased learning. This leads to behavioral acquisition of violent activities (Van S & Wiegman O, 1997).The video games being articulated on reward system, encourages the child to learn much of the actor’s activities.
Exposure to violent TV and video games physiologically arouses the child. Social science researchers have shown that playing these imitated violent games increases the child’s systolic blood pressure, higher adrenaline discharges. The net effect of such incidences is that the child is at risk of developing aggressive behaviour. This type of behaviour leads the child to developing aggressive emotions.
A study carried out by Ballard A. Weist (1996) shows that children who play violent video games raise hostile attribution bias among them. Down the line, the child develops behaviorally to a state where he/she exhibits aggressive actions (Anderson C & Dill K, 2000). Children who watch and play violent TV and video games are found to be more likely to format the world as being cruel/hostile place (Van S & Wiegman O, 1997). Studies have shown that such children are involved into frequent arguments with their teachers and in many cases are involved in physical fights with peers. It is acknowledge that the “least” hostile children who play a lot of violent TV and video games are more prone to be involved in fights than the “most” hostile children who do not play these violent TV and video games.
These violent TV and video games have an impact on children’s pro-social participation rate. A study measuring pro-social attitudes and behaviours after exposing children to these games have acknowledged that such games decreases viewers/players tendencies toward positive behaviours. For instance 7th and 8th grade children occupied with video games were found to be outwitted in class as opposed to those who did not or spent less time playing/viewing video games (Anderson C & Dill K, 2000).
Due to the above side effects of violent TV and video games on children, no matter how many good games are available for them, there is a need to pay attention to games and programmes that are inappropriate and harmful to them. Children should be limited to TV and video games that are purely to entertain as well as benefit them.
van Schie, E. G. M., & Wiegman, O. (1997). Children and videogames: Leisure activities, aggression, social integration, and school performance. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 27, 1175-1194.
Anderson, C. A., & Dill, K. E. (2000). Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavior in the laboratory and in life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Vol. 78, No.4.