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Effect of Violent Internet Games on Children and Juveniles

NCJ Number
Crime Research in South Africa Volume: 1 Issue: 1 Dated: October 2000 Pages: 1-10
Karen Olivier
Date Published
October 2000
10 pages
This paper looked at the effect of violent Internet games on children and juveniles.
Over 30 years of research has shown that a direct link exists between violence in the media and violence by children. This paper examines violent Internet games, as a form of electronic mass media, and the their influence on children and juveniles. Over the years, definitions of violence have been developed by researchers to guide studies on the violent content in the media. However, what one considers violent content, and how they are affected by it, varies from person to person. A summary of the developmental phases of the concept of media violence is presented in the paper, followed by a discussion of the effects of violence on television and violent video games on children. According to DeGaetano and Bander (1996) violent video/Internet games send the following false messages to the players: problems can be resolved quickly and with little personal involvement; the best way to solve a problem is to eliminate the source of the problem; problems are right or wrong, black or white; it is acceptable to immerse oneself in the video game’s rule driven reality without questioning the rules; instinctual rather than thoughtful, responsible behaviors are used to react to problems; and personal imagination is not an important problem solving skill. Research has shown that there are three factors that are strong predictors of whether young people will be influenced by media violence: 1) identifying with one of the characters; 2) interpreting what they see as realistic and relevant to their own lives; and 3) personal fantasizing about the characters in a violent game. The American Psychology Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have established warning signs that can be looked for in three age groups: toddlers and preschool children, school-aged children, and preteens and teenagers. Researchers have postulated that electronic media violence affects children in the following manner: increasing aggressiveness and antisocial behavior, increasing their fear of becoming victims, making them less sensitive to violence and to victims of violence, and increasing their appetite for more violence in entertainment and in real life. These factors can be combined to include the following two prominent effects of media violence: learning aggressive behavior and desensitization. Possible intervention strategies that can be used by parents and other interest groups to limit the time that children spend on the Internet and their exposure to violent content are discussed. Bibliography