Where is the Love? Teenagers, Violence and Video Games

Adachi, Paul J. C. and Teena Willoughby. “Demolishing the competition: The longitudinal link between competitive video games, competitive gambling, and aggression.” Journal Of Youth And Adolescence 42, no. 7 (July 2013): 1090-1104. PsycINFO, EBSCOhost (accessed May 6, 2014).

Reviewed by: Grant Anthony Bissell

There has always been a relationship between teenagers and videogames as well as the violence that comes from these games. Words such as competition, aggression, violence and influence are used to study the link between violence and videogames towards the young teenagers in our world. The video game industry has been a rapidly growing sector in the United States for many years and has quickly catapulted into the number one form of entertainment for young kids. A staggering amount of teenagers find themselves staring at a TV, wanting to finish the last level, beat the last opponent, etc and for this has created a debate with the effect these games our kids are playing and whether or not children are safe playing them. “97% of adolescents aged 12-17 play videogames” (Lenhart et al. 2008), which leaves a large amount of teenagers that are to inevitably be effected by the games that they are playing. I personally believe that the problem lies with the individual, not the game. This article stipulates that a lot of the of aggression is not from the violent content of the game but the competitive nature of most video games that kids are playing today. A big problem also lies with overexposure to these games and the amount of time kids are wasting away playing the games. This article believes that teenagers who engage in competitive gambling are more likely to act and behave aggressively because of the competitive nature of the game they are playing. Games that require you to risk something and lose, usually provokes the mind to behave defiantly, thus resulting in an enraged teenager. Having been a teenager, I can relate to kids today because I grew up playing video games but also engaging in sports. Both of which require a competitive edge that you want to gain over your opponents, so couldn’t the argument be made the sports cause a child to become aggressive and out of control? The article stresses the importance of understanding competition and aggression. Parents today need to focus on the intense competition their kids are involved with. While violence is also a big problem in adolescents, sometimes the competitive mindset of the child is over looked. While I believe that video games can have a big effect on a child if he or she is not monitored, I refuse to believe that video games make a child act a certain way. Furthermore, “Anderson and Morrow argue that as competitive situations occur early in life, the conceptualization of competitive situations as aggressive may occur at an early age” (Adachi, 4), which to me is a way of saying that if you allow yourself to become that competitive early on, the older you get, the more aggressive you will become.
All in all, I believe that certain aspects of video games are not healthy for young adolescent teenagers. While greatly affected by the sometimes wildly provocative themes in video games, I think it’s on an individual-to-individual basis and how influential you let a game become. A teenager is not aggressive because of the game itself; he/she is aggressive because of the competitive nature of the game. The same kind of thing can be displayed in the world of sports. If you are playing a game where the object of the game is to tackle the other person, you are going to tackle the other person. The aggression that comes from teenagers is something that is within themselves, not the video game they are playing. Adachi clearly states that he believes as long as kids are competing against each other, there will always be an aggressive side to that person, meaning that video games cannot be blamed for educating children on violence.