Youth violence is one of the major topics that have dominated political and social debates in the United States for a long time. Over the years, issues relating to gun control have been a major deciding factor in presidential elections, as American citizens continue to deal with the challenges of the high uptake of technology (Christopher, 2017). This observable fact has been necessitated by the high number of youths engaging in violent activities and organized crimes.
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According to psychologists, this growing trend has been highly influenced by violent video games that the youth are playing (Gunter, 2016). They further argue that the challenge has been heightened by the fact that the games are easily accessible and can be played on a variety of technological devices that such as smartphones. Although studies have shown that video games are not as destructive as people perceive them to be, the premise for most of them is inherently violent where the primary goal is killing the opponent in order to win (Grossman & Paulsen, 2016).
The worrying aspect of violent video games is their popularity, degree of engagement, and the high likelihood of leading gamers into real-life violence. This phenomenon is emphasized by the manner in which the games are programmed, whereby a player is rewarded for simulating violence. Violent video games make the youth to desensitize violence to the extent of making them accept it as a way of resolving conflicts.
Since the turn of the century, the rate of technological advancements and its uptake among the youth has been escalating at an alarming rate. More young people are embracing different forms of technology from a very young age. However, the impacts of modern technology such as video games have led to numerous pro and con arguments. Advocates of video games argue that violent ones provide gamers with a channel to express themselves, as well as an outlet for aggressive feelings (Hewitt & DeLisi, 2016).
They believe that this plays a pivotal role in reducing crime because players channel their angry feelings through such platforms. However, studies have shown that there is a correlation between violent video games and youth violence in the United States. Critics of video games believe that violent video games have been the biggest contributor to the prevalence of crimes such as violence towards women, bullying, and school shootings among others (Gunter, 2016). Psychologists argue that habitual playing of violent video games among the youth in America results in heightened and long-term aggression.
A report by the National Institute of Mental Health showed that players who are used to simulating violent activities such as shooting guns, stabbing, and hand-to-hand combat on video games from a young age have a high likelihood of engaging in physical fights and causing real-life violent behavior (Grossman & Paulsen, 2016). The main reason for this is the fact that people who start playing violent video games from a very young age struggle to distinguish reality from fantasy. Gamers often imitate the behaviors of characters inhabited in the games. This compromises the ethical framework of gamers who end up mimicking the events simulated in games.
Children are the most affected because their development is often characterized by attempts to exhibit the traits of their favorite gaming characters (Christopher, 2017). Child development experts argue that children who engage in violent video games without parental guidance and regulation are highly prone to having a violent adult life that starts showing when one reaches adolescence. According to psychologists, video games engage gamers actively through their participation and have to identify with violent characters in order to enjoy the thrill of playing (Grossman & Paulsen, 2016).
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According to numerous studies conducted by the American Psychology Association, any form of exposure to violence in video games has negative effects on a gamer such as low empathy and decreased kindness (Gunter, 2016). Sympathy is a key element of human relations that allows people to share the feelings of others, whereby whatever affects one correspondingly affects the other. This element plays a pivotal role in inhibiting aggressive behavior.
However, when someone engages too much in playing violent video games, this element is slowly wiped out leaving one completely incapacitated with regard to doing positive actions that benefit others. Psychologists argue that young people with exposure to violence in video games suffer from a lack of moral reasoning skills owing to the fact that their empathy is eroded as the frequency of gaming increases (Adams, 2017). This, in turn, increases their vulnerability to engaging in violent behavior and organized crimes because their thinking has been radicalized in a violent manner.
Studies have also shown that violent video games play a major role in the increasing cases of violence against women (Christopher, 2017). When young people play such games and see the manner in which women are treated, they start developing harmful attitudes that convince them it is acceptable to physically or sexually abuse women. In addition, some of the games portray women as weak and cannot defend themselves against various forms of danger.
Video games sexually objectify women in a manner that leaves young gamers with strong desires to mirror the attitudes and behaviors of their favorite characters towards women in a bid to develop a connection (Adams, 2017). Many violent video games have female characters who work as prostitutes, who often steal money from their clients. In order to recover their money back, the prostitutes are either attacked by a gang, intimidated through rape, or even killed. Violent video games contribute a lot to youth violence in America because they reinforce fighting as an acceptable way of dealing with conflicts (Grossman & Paulsen, 2016).
There is an urgent need for relevant stakeholders in the United States to prevent or reduce the rate of youth involvement in violence. Although this phenomenon is a result of numerous underlying social, economic, as well as political factors, technology such as violent video games has also played a major role. One of the most effective strategies that authorities can apply to address this growing challenge is increased regulation of popular culture. In modern America, a sense of morality has been eroded completely through video games, TV shows, movies, and musical lyrics that celebrate death. In addition, there is a high disregard for higher authority because all the negative content shared through these platforms lacks the necessary regulation.
Another strategy that can effectively deal with this challenge is increased political will, whereby the executive arm of the government comes up with strict policies for managing the nature of content available to the public regardless of the rating provided. In addition, the policies that will be formulated should be implemented in an unbiased manner. Finally, parents have a huge role in ensuring that they buy non-violent games for their children. This will prevent them from being exposed to violence that can cause moral decay.
Adams, G.G. (2017). Violent video games and society. New York, NY: Green Haven Publishing.
Christopher, N. (2017). Are video games too violent? New York, NY: Green Haven Publishing.
Grossman, D., & Paulsen, K. (2016). Assassination generation: Video games, aggression, and the psychology of killing. San Francisco, CA: Little Brown.
Gunter, B. (2016). Does playing video games make players more violent? New York, NY: Springer.
Hewitt, J.D., & DeLisi, M. (2016). Delinquency in society. New York, NY: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.