Running head: Video Video games: Where is the Harm? English COM 121-136 March 12, 2005 Abstract Many people do not believe there are benefits to playing video games. However there are many benefits to exposing and letting children interact with video games. Some benefits include opportunity to immerse ourselves in character, development of hand-eye coordination, cognitive thinking skills, cooperative playing skills, fine motor skills, and real-time decision making abilities. Banning video games, or placing restrictions on them could have an adverse effect on the way children view the world.
For hours, my brother and I could sit in front of the television screen playing what is now being classified as horrifically graphic games. Hour after hour we would defend our little world from anything that would dare to invade. From aliens to giant rodents we conquered all. To this day we still place a day or two, usually on the weekends, aside to beat the latest game. But more recently claims of violent actions from disgruntled teens brought about by video games have persuaded our parents to ban game play in their house.
Once these outrageous claim literally hit home, it was once again time for my brother and I to do our party to save our little world. It is my duty to get the word out. Video games, although sometimes graphic and tasteless in terms of violence, play an important, positive role in child development; promoting teamwork, good motor skills, and confidence. Banning such a tool could deprive children or a healthy means of expression and openness to the world.
Role-playing and adventure games stimulate a child's imagination. Nothing is more intriguing to a child, or an adult for that matter, than to imagine yourself a hero in another place and time. Role-playing and adventure games offer us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in a character and, for the moment, to make decisions and choose actions based upon the nature of that character. The game progresses based upon the character's choices. You create your own storyline's and your own destiny, very similar to creating a work of fiction. Educational professionals, while allowing that video games permit children to engage in fantasy reenactment of whatever game they where playing, violent or other, maintain that this action is very much isolated compared to other activities, such as creative writing and creative dialogue (Provenzo, 1992).
Gaining proficiency at using video game controllers at a young age can help a child feel more comfortable with fine motor tasks such as writing. Through the development of hand-eye coordination, cognitive thinking skills and cooperative playing skills, children sharpen their fine motor skills and real-time decision making abilities, which in turn enhances their learning ability. Keyboarding, typing and manipulation of some sort of game controller with multiple function buttons contribute to improving fine motor skills. Sometimes a problem with fine motor skills may surface while playing video games even before a child learns how to write fluently. In this way video games actually act as an indicator for future problems that a child may have. Children also get a sense of independent achievement when they play games that have levels to complete.
There is an actual sense of accomplishment and pride when a child completes a level of play in a video game. The desire to reach higher levels becomes a strong motivator. Because the opportunity to improve is based solely on the player's ability. The player's confidence increases along with the level. Contrary to belief of some video game critics, studies show that video games stress cooperation action rather than autonomous. When children, or adults, play video games together, the use of cooperation and teamwork is essential to accomplishing many tasks.
Both of these behaviors are deemed to be pro social. When playing a video game with a newcomer, or novice player, an expert player often shares advice and assists the newcomer, even when they aren't requested to. This establishes a sense of unity between two players and helps them to better their chances of completing the task assigned to them in the game. (Lee, 2004) The social content of video games may influence children's attitudes toward gender roles. In the Nintendo games, women are usually cast as persons who are acted upon rather than as initiators of action; in extreme cases, they are depicted as victims.
One study (Provenzo, 1992) found that the covers of the 47 most popular Nintendo games depicted a total of 115 male and 9 female characters; among these characters, 20 of the males struck a dominant pose while none of the females did. Thirteen of the 47 games were based on a scenario in which a woman is kidnapped or has to be rescued. Now this may seem like a bad thing, but isn't producing most hair gels in shades of pink and purple targeting the female consumer? Studies have indicated that males play video games more frequently than females.
Television program producers and video game manufacturers may produce violent shows and games for this audience. This demand for violence may not arise because of an innate male desire to witness violence, but because males are looking for strong role models, which they find in these shows and games (Clark, 1993). Despite the overwhelming evidence of the benefits of video games on child development, people still argue that video games are bad for children and bans are still pending. Some people even go as far as to relay false information in order to obtain the essential leverage needed to provide certain restrictions on the sale and distribution of certain video games.
For example, Pat Klotz, a vice president for the state parent teacher group in Los Angeles, stated "research shows that exposure to violence in video games poses a threat greater than violence in movies and television because of the interactive nature of the games" ("Leaders Unite", 2004, para 7). Despite his comment, there is absolutely no evidence of research that suggest that his allegations are true. In fact, an early study on the effects of video games on children found that playing video games had more positive effects on children than watching television. A conference sponsored by Atari at Harvard University in 1983 presented preliminary data which failed to identify ill effects (Funk, 1993). Doug Lowenstein, president of the interactive digital software association, in response to a question posed by Familyeducaton. com on the ill effects of video games, stated that "there is absolutely no research to support the idea that playing a violent video game leads to violent behavior".
He then went on to add that video games "purely entertainment, where talking about video games... benign product [s] in terms of human behavior". Bans AB 1972 and AB 1973 would classify games "where the player visually inflicts serious injury to human beings in a manner that is especially heinous, atrocious, or cruel" as " harmful matter to children" (qt d in leaders unite, 2004, para 3-4) and the games must be displayed with mature content separate from other games. Thus meaning the distribution of games with such content could be restricted. And if they are to be sold they must be separated from the general selection of games, similar to what Blockbuster does with their adult movie selection. According to Nikki Burns, editor of The Mississippi Link, 60% of American (about 145 million people) play video games on a regular basis (Burns, 2004, para 7). If her information is accurate and the implications against video games are true, then why isn't over half the population running rapid; welding swords and performing "finishing moves" on everyone they encounter?
The truth is, children need to be influenced by violence. 'Fear, greed, power-hunger, rage: these are aspects of our selves that we try not to experience in our lives but often want, even need, to experience vicariously through stories of others,' writes Melanie Moore, Ph. D., a psychologist who works with urban teens. 'Children need violent entertainment in order to explore the inescapable feelings that they " ve been taught to deny, and to reintegrate those feelings into a more whole, more complex, more resilient selfhood. ' Renowned comic-book author Gerard Jones argues that bloody video games, gun-glorifying "gangsta" rap and other forms of 'creative violence' help far more children than they hurt, by giving kids a tool to master their rage. Rather than taking it on the world with an AK-47, children are shooting the infinite supply of blood-sucking zombies that are trying to take over the white house: which seems more American? Given the inconclusive research, recommendations concerning video games must be conservative.
According to researcher Jeanne Funk (1993), a ban on video games is "probably not... in the child's best interests". Limiting playing time and monitoring game selection according to developmental level and game content may be as important as similar parental management of television privileges. Parents and professionals should also seek creative ways to increase the acceptance, popularity, and availability of games that are relatively pro social, educational, and fun. (Funk 1993) Burns, N. (2001). Top selling video games offer very little racial, gender diversity.
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