In the years following World War II, electronic developments began to change the way in which the world functioned. Radio communications improved, along with electronic medical equipment, electronic transistors, computer technology, aeronautical research and nuclear weaponry. But it was the introduction of television that really opened the door to a whole new dimension of communication development. Since then, there have been a number of inventions linked to television, but perhaps the most prominent of these is the creation of the video game. Video games were popularised in the late 1970’s with the release of the arcade games Pong and Space Invaders. Today the video game world is a multi-million dollar industry with life-like animations complete with complex storylines, characters and in-game advertising. However, as video games have developed and become more intense and inevitably more violent, an argument has formed that the extensive use of video games has a negative impact on the health of players, especially young players. The three main ways wherein young people may be affected by video games are; socially, mentally and physically. This essay will analyse both sides of the argument through these three areas before providing a reasoned opinion based on the facts.
The first aspect of a young person’s health that may be negatively affected by extensive video game use is the social aspect. The social aspect of a person’s health simply refers to how a person interacts with other people. The main argument surrounding the issue states that extensive video game use restricts the time spent on other social activities. A study released by Carla Fisher in 2012 uses the displacement theory to try and discover if regular video game use affects adolescent’s time spent doing other activities such as homework, school, physical activities and time spent with friends. The study analyses the lifestyles of a number of both adolescent gamers and adolescent non-gamers, measures the amount of time they spend on various activities and compares the results to determine whether gaming affects time spent on other activities. The study found that, “For weekday days, there were no significant differences between gamers and non-gamers in time spent reading, doing homework, in sports/active leisure, or in creative leisure. On weekend days, gamers spent more time reading, whereas non-gamers spent more time on sports and active leisure.” (Fisher, 2012, p. 79) This study suggests that video game use does not significantly impact the social activities of adolescents, and that playing video games does not automatically mean that a child will develop social insufficiencies.
Compare this to a paper written in 2009 by J.J De Simone. The paper focusses around the concept of solo-socialisation within environmentally immersive video games and analyses how deeply a user can connect to a video game. De Simone used an array of previous papers on the topic to create a hypothesis on the subject, and to create a starting point for future research on the topic. In the paper, De Simone states, “human brains, although highly advanced, are unable to differentiate between interpersonal socialization and technological socialization. Because humans have never encountered other non-human intelligent social creatures in the evolutionary process, people treat computers as equal social participants.” (De Simone, 2009, p. 32) The paper concludes that solo-socialisation does seem to have an impact on gamers playing environmentally immersive video games. Although it has not yet been proven, it is easy to see how these findings could have a negative social effect on the player as too much computer interaction could blur the line between what social interactions are real and what are simulated.
The mental aspect of a young person’s health is another aspect that can be negatively affected through extensive video game use. In this regard, mental health refers to a person’s emotional and psychological wellbeing. The main argument surrounding the issue is that extensive use of violent video games can cause violent behaviour in adolescents. An article released by Dr Craig Anderson in 2003 uses a number of past papers and studies to support this very argument. The article states that, “When one combines all relevant studies using meta-analytic techniques, five separate effects emerge with considerable consistency. Violent video games are significantly associated with: increased aggressive behaviour, thoughts, and affect; increased physiological arousal; and decreased pro-social behaviour.” (Anderson, 2003) This statement argues that violent video games can cause aggressive and anti-social behaviour in players. If this statement is true, then there is a strong chance that violent video games are contributing to increasing crime and violence rates right across the world.
On the other hand, a meta-analytic review of major studies on video game violence by Christopher Ferguson in 2009 rejects this argument. In his review, Ferguson analyses a number of past studies in order to gain an insight into what effect violent video games have on players. Ferguson finds that, “Results from the meta-analysis indicate only a 2% overlap in variance between violent video game playing and aggressive behaviour.” (Ferguson, 2009, p. 313) Ferguson goes on to find that the meta-analysis did not support a relationship between violent video game exposure and aggressive behaviour.
The final aspect of a young person’s health that may be negatively affected by extensive video game use is the physical aspect. Physical health simply refers to the health of all parts of the human body. The main argument surrounding the issue is that extensive video game use can have a negative effect on an adolescent’s physical health. A study conducted in 2011 by a team of medical students at Aga Khan University headed by Zain Sobani investigates the effect of video games on the heart rates of gamers. The study recruited 30 male test subjects aged 17 to 25 to play a video game for a specified amount of time, while their heart rates were measured at regular intervals to discover whether there is a noticeable fluctuation in the subjects’ heart rates. The study found that, “Data revealed a significant change in heart rate of the study participants from basal rates to the rates measured after 150 seconds of gaming. The direction of change in heart rate was comparable to the change noticed in the participants after 3 minutes of bicycle ergometry.” (Sobani, 2011, p. 4) If this study is accurately reflects the effects of video games worldwide, then the physical health of adolescent gamers is being negatively affected by video game use.
However, this study is opposed by a separate study conducted by Shawn Green in 2003 which instead focusses on the positive effects of video game use. This study used test subjects aged 18 to 23 and had them play at least 1 hour of video games every day for 6 months. The test subjects then underwent a series of perception tests. Their results were then compared to the results of another set of test subjects who had undergone the testing with no gaming time prior to the test. It was hoped that the study would show that video game use increases visual perception performance. The results showed that, “Video game players could subitize more items than non-video game players (4.9 versus 3.3 items). Thus, video game playing enhances the number of visual items that can be unerringly apprehended.” (Green, 2003, p. 534) This study suggests that video game use can also have a positive effect on and adolescent’s physical health.
Indeed, as video games have developed and become more intense and inevitably more violent, an argument has formed that the extensive use of video games has a negative impact on the social, mental and physical health of players, especially young players. After analysing both sides of the argument through these three health aspects, I have come to the conclusion that extensive video game use does have a negative impact on the health of young people, although a moderate amount of playing time can be a positive and enjoyable activity for adolescents. This essay has analysed both sides of the argument through all three main areas of the issue, as well as provided a reasoned opinion based on the facts.
Anderson, Craig (October 2003). “Violent Video Games: Myths, Facts, and Unanswered Questions”. APA, http://www.apa.org/science/psa/sb-anderson.html.
De Simone, J. J. (2009). Solo-socialization in environmentally immersive single-player video games. University of Kansas). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.libraryproxy.griffith.edu.au/docview/304916389?accountid=14543(304916389).
Ferguson, C 2007, The Good the Bad and the ugly: A Meta-analytic Review of Positive and Negative Effects of Violent Video Games, Psychiatric Quarterly, vol. 78, no. 4, pp. 309-316 http://www.tamiu.edu/~cferguson/videoMeta2.pdf
Fisher, C. C. (2012). Video games, adolescents, and the displacement effect. Teachers College, Columbia University). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.libraryproxy.griffith.edu.au/docview/1024430402?accountid=14543. (1024430402).
Green, S & Bavelier 2003, Action video game modifies visual selective attention, Nature, vol. 423, no. 1, p. 534. Retrieved from http://www.dtso.org/jclub/20030825/Green_03.pdf
Sobani, Z et al 2011, Electronic Gaming versus Physical Activity: Effect on Heart, Journal of Pakistan Medical Students, vol. 1, no. 1, Retrieved from http://jpmsonline.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/JPMS-VOL1-ISSUE1-PAGES3-6-OA.pdf
After completing my research on the mental impact of playing video games, I then moved on to the last aspect of the assignment; physical impacts of video games and the argument that playing video games can cause physical health problems.
The first source I will be using to analyse this argument is a study conducted by mediacl student Sobani Zain and others in 2011. The study attempted to prove whether playing video games caused either an increase or decrease in players’ heart rates. The study used 30 male subjects aged 17 to 25 who were asked to play a video game while their heart rate was measured at various intervals. The study found that players’ heart rates increased significantly after 150 seconds of playing.
Source: Sobani, Z 2011, “Electronic Gaming versus Physical Activity: Effect on Heart”, Journal of Pakistan Medical Students, vol. 1, no. 1
The second source I will be using that will oppose the argument is a study released by Shaun Green in 2003. The study argues that video game use improves the visual perception of users.
Green, S & Bavelier 2003, Action video game modifies visual selective attention, Nature, vol. 423, no. 1, p. 534
After selecting my two sources that represent both sides of the social argument regarding video game use, I am now researching the mental aspect of video games and the argument that violent video games can cause violent and aggressive behaviour among players.
The first source I will use in the essay was written by Dr Craig Anderson in 2003 who uses a number of past papers and studies to attempt to answer a number of unanswered questions and statements which he calls ‘myths’ related to violent video games. Anderson concludes that violent video games has a negative affect on gamers.
Source: Anderson, Craig (October 2003). “Violent Video Games: Myths, Facts, and Unanswered Questions”. apa.org.
The opposing source I will use in my essay is a meta-analytic review written in 2007 by Christopher Ferguson. Ferguson also reviews a variety of past studies to develop a hypothesis using a large scale data analysis. Ferguson concludes that the results of the meta-analysis did not support a relationship between violent video game exposure and aggressive behavior.
Source: Ferguson, C 2007, The Good the Bad and the ugly: A Meta-analytic Review of Positive and Negative Effects of Violent Video Games, Psychiatric Quarterly, vol. 78, no. 4, pp. 309-316
I have begun researchng the topic by looking into the social effects of playing video games. After the background research, I have learnt that the main argument regarding the social affects of playing video games is that they restrict the social activities of young people, leading to social development problems.
One of the studies I have come across was conducted by Carla Fisher published in May 2012. The study uses the displacement theory to try and discover if adolescents regularly playing video games affects the time spent doing other activities such as homework, school, physical activities, time spent with friends etc. The displacement theory simply states that when more time is spent doing one thing, the time spent doing other things decreases. This source is valuable to my research as it provides evidence regarding how much time young people spend on video games compared their time spent on other activities.
Source: Fisher, C. C. (2012). Video games, adolescents, and the displacement effect. Teachers College, Columbia University). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses
While the above paper discussed the effects of the lack of time spent on social activities caused by extensive video game use, a paper written by J.J De Simone in 2009 discusses the social impacts caused while playing the video games themselves. The paper looks at the concept of solo-socialisation, the act of socialising with artificially intelligent characters in an immersive video game environment. De Simone concludes that gamers can interact deeply with video game characters and feel genuine emotions for the characters. This research is valuable as it provides a detailed view of the concept of solo-socialisation.
Source: De Simone, J. J. (2009). Solo-socialization in environmentally immersive single-player video games. University of Kansas). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses
The online essay requires us to write 1000 words on a topic question pre-approved by our tutor, my topic question is ‘Does the extensive use of
computer/video games have an adverse impact on the health of young people?’ this particualr topic question also requires a clarification of all sides of the argument before providing a reasoned opinion based on facts.
After conducting some bacground research, I discovered that there are three main areas wherein young people may be affected by video games, these areas are social, mental and physical. As far as I understand, the argument for both the social and physical aspect of the issue states that playing video games restricts the social and phisical activities of young people, leading to social and physical development issues. The argumet for the mental aspect of the issue differs slightly as it is believed by some that playing violent video games leads to aggressive and violent behaviour in the player.
My approach to this essay will be to research all three aspects of the issue and present both sides of each argument before providing a reasoned opinion based on the facts that I present. I believe that this approach will answer the topic question effectively as it will cover a broad range of the topic. I am unsure as to which side of the argument I will support in my essay as yet as I will need to conduct more research on the topic.
The essay topic I have chosen for the second assessment piece is the topic that asks whether or not extensive use of video games has an adverse impact on the health of young people. This is an interesting topic as there is an argument that extensive video game use can have an impact not just on a person’s physical health, but also on their mental and sociological health as well.