The social and ethical trends that form the various different aspects of Youth Culture are both vast and mysterious. From sporting pursuits to a child’s first ever jigsaw puzzle the young mind is always working overtime exploring different elements of learning and occupation. Generally, Youth Culture is shaped by the media and the evolving minds exposure to entertainment. Entertainment, in all of its forms is a diversion from what the mind considers meticulous or boring, therefore entertainment is essentially amusement. Entertainment can be grasped in countless ways from the humble soccer ball to the now social “norm” of computer and console games. The “game” has always kept people entertained and the modern era is no exception, only the context and form in which games are shown today are drastically different to what games once were. Games were formerly in the shape of a table/board and human interaction however nowadays the primary forms of games are displayed through the medium of Consoles, Computers, Arcades, Portable Digital Consoles (GameBoy etc) and Virtual Platforms.
This essay will explain and discuss, compare and contrast the different aspects of the impact of computers games in todays society and how the games effect young children in a negative way. Games are a very quick and amusing way to be entertained. Not so long ago, games were more or less a gathering of several people conforming to play a competition style activity such as Soccer, Rugby, Cricket, Tennis and Baseball. The other form of game was constricted to simple board and table games such as Backgammon, Card Games, Chess, Checkers and Monopoly. All of these games, whether it be board or outdoors were the interaction between other people who were there at the time. The gaming and entertainment industry is a multi-billion dollar a year industry and is growing by 50% per year, a figure that is reflective of the amount of time children spend in front of televisions and computer screens. As games become more and more realistic graphically and physically the temptation to spend several hours sitting down during the day in preference over playing sport is increasing dramatically. In the year 2007 92% of children aged between two and seventeen indulge regularly in video games.
These degenerating figures exemplify one of the main problems that society is currently facing with regards to developing young minds. The demand and popularity of video games is increasing while sporting teams continue to struggle with new players and creating teams, an epidemic unlike any other. So in contrast to the former generation of gaming activities were people interacted with one another and games were considered a social event, todays younger generation are obliged to interact with artificial intelligence and “make believe” game play. Despite the efforts of many practical and educational game innovations, violent video games still continue to flood the market and increase in profit margins. These games are generally referred to (and knows as) “First Person Shooters” (FPS) and are designed to shoot and kill opponents you encounter in the game. Essentially, the only way you can progress further in the game is by killing. Concerned Parents, Medical Professionals, Educators and Child Advocates believe these games are responsible for children becoming aggressive and unsociable. Dr David Walsh of the National Institute of Media and the Family conducted a recent study that articulated whether or not the concern for young children and the influence of video games was justified.
Organisations such as the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association are prominent advocates for the amending and control of video games to make them more suitable for children and less available. Dr Walsh’s studies formulate four reasons why these games make children aggressive and unsociable. The four reasons are as follows: – Children are more likely to imitate the actions of a character with whom they identify. In violent video games the player is often required to take the point of view of the shooter or perpetrator. – Video games by their very nature require active participation rather than passive observation. – Repetition increases learning. Video games involve a great deal of repetition. If the games are violent, then the effect is a behavioral rehearsal for violent activity. – Rewards increase learning, and video games are based on a reward system. Addition to these games is extremely common as the multi-player part of the games have no real objective and in turn can’t be completed.
With the single player segment of any game having a stated an objective and progression through the stages warrants rewards upon completion of the game. So in this case, children can get bored of the game very quickly. The multi-player segment, however does not have any stated objectives and there is no end. It is a continuous stream of game play that can never be exhausted through the medium of a “final level” or “boss”, making them extremely addictive. Dr Charles Ungerleider describes that “they’re very compelling with increasing complexity, so a child becomes more facile, yet wants to know more and apply new skills.” In summary, the more complex and intriguing the game is to young children, the higher the possibility that the game will become addictive. In conclusion, the combination of violence and addiction to video games transforms young children into aggressive and unsociable individuals. The control and alteration of violent video games is the only effective way to combat the rising problem. With game complexity and graphical innovation increasing as more recent games are released, the situation is not going to improve.
Controlling the accessibility of these games is paramount to the solution, implicated ratings (M, MA15+, R etc) need to be enforced properly in order to render these games inaccessible to children whose age limit does not qualify. Alternation will include the games content being modified in order to suit the target audience, if the game is considered too violent for a young child, a lock system can be implicated in order to censor gore, nudity, swearing and vulgar. This would then mean the parent has complete control over what the child is allowed to see and do within the boundaries of the game. The solution is in the hands of the parents of the children whom take part in these games around the world.