In the article “Are Violent Video Games Harmful to Children and Adolescents?” by Steven F. Gruel, several studies were mentioned that were designed to support this question in the affirmative. The included studies claimed to prove beyond a doubt that violent video games lead to an increase in aggression as well as a decrease in school performance and ability to control inhibitions. In this paper, a summary of the article will be presented as well as an analysis of three weaknesses, one strength, and an opinion.
The main idea of the article written by Steven F. Gruel entitled “Are Violent Video Games Harmful to Children and Adolescents?” was that prolonged exposure to violent video games has a negative impact on minors. Throughout the article, many studies and experiments were mentioned, each claiming to prove that aggression is caused by violent video games. The studies used included methods such as meta-analysis, surveys, experiments, longitudinal and cross-sectional correlational methods, as well as neurological and behavioral studies. These methods of study were used to determine that video games cause many different negative behaviors in the participants, such as increased aggressive behavior, less success in school, lower brain activity, and an inability to control behavior. Overall, the article claims that there is undeniable evidence, supplied by these various studies, that violent video games increase violent behaviors (Gruel, 2010).
Lack of citations. One of the major flaws present in this article was the failure to cite sources. The article mentioned many studies that supposedly support their thesis and yet no information was given in regard to who completed those studies, what they were titled or when they were completed. For example, when discussing the negative impacts of violence on the brain, the article stated that “as recently as June 2010, another study of violent video game effects on frontal lobe activity was published” (Gruel, 2010). There is no citation provided about this study, or any of the others in the article. It is impossible to trust a study with unknown or unconfirmed origins. It is not possible to repeat experiments in anticipation of duplicating the results if barely any information is given about the original. The lack of reliable sources makes it difficult to determine whether or not the results of these studies are reliable.
Insufficient information. Another flaw present in the article was the absence of sufficient information. Studies and results were mentioned, but rarely throughout the article was any information about sample sizes or procedures present. It was unknown how experiments were carried out, with how many people, or the procedures. A “publication concerning children and violent video games,” has “findings that can be succinctly summarized” (Gruel, 2010). This publication went directly from mentioning a study to revealing the results, with no explanation as to how those results were discovered. Such information should be available for the reader to determine reliability. For example, not knowing the sample size of an experiment makes it impossible to know that the possibility of bias was removed. Without knowing the sample size, it is possible that the results were due to chance. Without this information it would be quite hard for the reader to determine the reliability and the validity of the results provided. In order to establish reliability and validity, others must have access to enough information so that questions can be asked and methods can be analyzed. It is impossible to know if the conclusions reached by this article were true at all.
Implied causational relationship. The final flaw in the article was the assumption by the author that compiling all of these studies implied a causational relationship between video games and aggressive behavior. As there is no information provided about the sources of the studies or their methods, it was impossible to state that violent video games were the only possible cause of aggression in children. The author made the claim that “the relationship between media violence and real-life aggression is nearly as strong as the impact of cigarette smoking and lung cancer” (Gruel, 2010). This claim was interesting because the link between smoking and lung cancer is correlational. It would be unethical to do a controlled experiment to determine a causal relationship in that situation. The author claimed that video games and aggression were similar to the situation with cancer and smoking, but that the link between violence and video games has been proven to be causal. These claims contradict one another. Either the results were correlational or they were causal; they cannot be both.
Furthermore, there were no other explanations considered. It seemed as though the author was all too eager to prove his thesis without providing evidence that was supportive of his claim or his critical thinking ability. The author included studies of questionable origins and unknown methods, without stopping to concede that there may be other factors involved. Of course, there is the possibility that there are correlational relationships between violent video games and aggression, but the article as a whole claims that “scientific debate should move beyond the simple question whether violent video game play is a causal risk factor for behavior because: ‘scientific literature has effectively and clearly shown the answer to be ‘yes’’” (Gruel, 2010). It seems questionable that such a claim can be made without any explicit examples given.
Diversity of methods and participants. One strength of the article was the variety in both the methods of research and the tested participants. Some of the experiments mentioned using data from a variety of differences in age, gender, and ethnicity. One such experimental study claimed to have gotten results that occurred in “both males and females, for participants from low-violence collectivistic type Eastern countries (e.g., Japan), and from high-violence individualistic type Western countries (e.g., USA, Europe)” (Gruel, 2010). This demonstrates variety in the individuals tested, a signal that the results were more likely to be meaningful rather than biased to one population or another. The variety of research methods used included both behavioral and neurological studies, both of which were studied through both longitudinal and cross-sectional experiments. Meta-analysis was also used to retrieve “over 130 research reports which entailed scientific tests on over 130,000 participants” (Gruel 2010). If each type of test had similar results in each population tested, reliability is more likely. Although the procedures for each were not mentioned, this variety in research methods increases the likelihood that the results were reliable.
In my opinion, I think that video games have a negative effect on children’s behavior. It makes sense that participating in violent video games and playing the role of an individual who chooses to kill would have an impact on a still-developing mind.
My opinion has been developed through personal experience. In my family, spending time on electronics is a popular pastime, especially for my sister. She spends hours in her room playing Minecraft or Sims on her phone or DS. After long periods of time, it was obvious that she became extremely irritable and aggressive. She got angry more quickly and was hard to interact with because of her negative attitude. I have noticed in myself as well that when I am on my phone for long periods of time, I become irritable more quickly and have a harder time being patient. Although it may not be the result of violent video games, the fact that these uses of electronics caused such negative reactions causes me to think that it is very possible that violent video games could have a similar and even worse effect on other kids. I think that this source is reliable in the fact that both my sister and I had similar, repeated experiences that had the same result.
Another source of my opinion is common sense and other things I have heard before. As previously mentioned, it makes sense that a young kid’s mind could be influenced by media that he or she is exposed to, especially at a young age. Video games can cause the player to feel as if they were participating in the activity in reality. If a child is playing the part of a man with a gun who makes the decision to attack someone else with no negative consequence, it seems reasonable to expect that the child would find it acceptable to act more aggressively in real life situations. This source is not as reliable as my own experience because it is simply thoughts I have developed based on things that I have heard, which may or may not be trustworthy sources.
In conclusion, this paper analyzed three weaknesses and one strength of the article written by Steven F. Gruel entitled “Are Violent Video Games Harmful to Children and Adolescents?”. This article explored the question of whether violent video games are detrimental to a child’s health. It did this by mentioning experiments and studies done on the topic. The article’s weaknesses were that no sources were cited, there was insufficient information provided, and that a causal relationship was assumed without being proven. The article’s strength was its use of diversity in study methods and participants. AWESOME FINISHING SENTENCE THAT I CAN’T THINK OF RIGHT NOW.
- Gruel, S. F. (2010). Brief of Amicus Curiae in case of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association. U.S. Supreme Court, NO. 08-1448