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Summary of Negative and Positive Effects of Video Games
SLT: vicarious reinforcement is received when characters are rewarded for antisocial
behaviour and this increases the likelihood of the individual repeating this behaviour.
Furthermore, Bandura noted that viewing REALISTIC violence additionally increased
the likelihood of the behaviour being repeated, and video games are becoming more
realistic as graphics advance possibly explaining the rise in antisocial behaviour.
Emotional desensitisation occurs as video games cause a `numbing' of arousal
reactions to repeated events which should usually produce emotional responses.
Cognitive desensitisation occurs when the belief that violence is unusual is replaced
with the view that violence is a common act through the repeated use of video
Matthews randomly assigned adolescents to play a video game and found
increased activity in the amygdala (which deals with self-control and
inhibition) when compared to a control group. This illustrates a physical
effect on the brain thus indicating desensitisation and less control over
Anderson conducted a meta-analysis into studies on the effects of exposure
to violent video games and found short-term exposure to video game
violence was associated with temporary increased aggression in participants.
Sopes and Miller found children who played video games exhibited addictive
tendencies due to compulsive behaviour involvement and also exhibited
withdrawal symptoms such as `the shakes' when they attempted to stop
playing. They also turn to crime to fund their habit.
SLT: vicarious reinforcement in video games such as `The Sims' can also encourage
pro-social behaviour as characters are rewarded for carrying out acts of good.
Gee argues games empower learners, develop problem solving and help
understanding. Some games allow for creativity and a sense of control, they
encourage independent thinking, perseverance and commitment.
Kestenbaum argues even violent video games are beneficial as they have a
CATHARTIC effect. For instance, violent video games allow the individual to discharge
their aggression safely and not out in the open world.
Kestenbaum assessed heavy computer use in male adolescent participants
and found gaming was a safe outlet for their aggression; it helped manage
their conflict and allowed for open expression of competition for the users.
Durkin and Barber found 16 year olds who play computer games scored
better on measures of family closeness, activity involvement, school
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Methodological problems: researchers cannot control extraneous variables such as
individual differences e.g. the participant's past experience of gaming. Most findings
are purely correlational and therefore no causal relationship can be identified. It may
equally be that individuals with aggressive personalities are attracted to violent video
Inconclusive research: whether video games have a positive or negative effect is not
known as there is a significant amount of contradicting evidence to support and
oppose the different types of effects video games pose.…read more