The Effects of Violent Video Games
During the course of the experiment, the children’s video game habits were studied, along with their behavior. At the start, the behavior of the children--whether they were more passive or aggressive--was taken into account. The participants rated their own behavior, but Anderson’s team also gathered information from their peers and teachers (7). Anderson and his colleagues concluded that children who played violent video games on a regular basis were more aggressive than their peers who rarely or never played such games (7).
Anderson writes in an article for the American Psychological Association: "High levels of violent video game exposure have been linked to delinquency, fighting at school and during free play periods, and violent criminal behavior (e.g., self-reported assault, robbery)” (1).
Others experts disagree with Anderson’s research, claiming that violence in general is not the problem with video games. Dr. Cheryl K. Olson, a director of the Center for Mental Health and the Media at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston is quoted by CNN as saying, “I think there may well be problems with some kinds of violent games for some kinds of kids. We may find things we should be worried about, but right now we don't know enough” (7).
While there is controversy over whether all genres of violent video games are harmful, research regarding the effects of violent video games on the brain has brought up some startling results. According to a fairly recent study by Dr. Vincent Matthews of Indiana University, computer games have an impact on the brain. A number of participants, ages 18 to 29, were randomly chosen to play a Mature-rated, first-person shooter game (13). The other group played no computer games during the study. None of the participants had much experience playing computer games and all were men (9).
In the first part of the experiment conducted by Matthews, the subjects were given counting and emotional tests to complete while their brains were scanned by a functional MRI machine. During the first week, the group assigned the video game played it for 10 hours on average (13).
During the second week, neither group played video games. The testing that took place that the end of the second week revealed that the video game group had improved (13) in their performance compared to the previous test, but had not quite reached the results of their first test, prior to their playing the game. The control group, which had played no video games, performed the same, as expected.
Matthews is quoted in an article on Time.com as saying, “Behavioral studies have shown an increase in aggressive behavior after violent video games, and what we show is the physiological explanation for what the behavioral studies are showing. We’re showing that there are changes in brain function that are likely related to that behavior” (9).
The activity of the brain is not the only thing to be affected in the brain. Dr. Paul Grasby of the Hammersmith Hospital in London obtained evidence that playing video games can become chemically addictive. He and his fellow researchers learned that the production of dopamine doubles in the brain of a person who consistently plays video games (15). The researchers found that the dopamine produced had the same effect as amphetamines or Ritalin injected into the blood stream (15). Dopamine is considered to be a hormone associated with pleasure (4) and Grasby’s team has compared video games to taking “a dose of speed” (15).
Video Game Addiction
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