Running head: CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES 1. Does Playing Violent Video Games in Childhood Predict Future Aggressive Behaviour?

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1 Running head: CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES 1 This essay is a sample of student writing, and the annotations explain how this writer effectively organizes and communicates ideas. The content in this essay is not to be reproduced in whole or part. Use of the ideas or words in this essay is an act of plagiarism, which is subject to academic integrity policy at Trent University and other academic institutions. Does Playing Violent Video Games in Childhood Predict Future Aggressive Behaviour? An Empirical Review Ima Student Trent University This is a sample of an APA-format title page. See more information on APA formatting and how to make a title page, running head, and page numbers that conform to APA guidelines, visit the ASC Documentation Guide.

2 CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES 2 Does Playing Violent Video Games in Childhood Predict Future Aggressive Behaviour? An Empirical Review This introduction is successful because it clearly establishes the context and rationale for the topic and the research question. Video games are a very popular recreational pastime for many children and youth around the world. Virtual gaming has only become more popular with a wide range of sports, travel and war type games available on the market. Roberts study (2005, as cited in Anderson & Carnagey, 2009) found that nearly 60% of American youth ages 8 to 18 report playing video games on any given day, and 30% report playing for more than one hour a day. The author read about Roberts 2005 study in Anderson and Carnagey s 2009 article. Cite both the original study and the source that discusses its findings. As Roberts name appears in the essay sentence, it does not have to appear in the parenthetical citation. Violent video games have been a controversial topic among parents and psychologists alike for many years. Though some researchers have cited depression, family violence and peer influences as predictors of aggression not videogame violence much research has been done to the contrary (Ferguson, San Miguel, Garza & Jerabeck, 2012). Research suggests that children and adolescents who play violent video games are at risk for increased aggression and problem behaviour into adulthood. The thesis offers a clear answer to the research question, which is posed by the title. The following paper will present current research examining the negative effects of violent video games on children who play these games. Short term psychological, physiological and cognitive changes may contribute to children exhibiting more aggressive behaviours that could lead to problems socially and scholastically. Studies suggest adults who engaged in virtual

3 CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES 3 violence may be more impulsive and desensitized to violence, contributing to long term cognitive and personality changes. Additionally, violent video games are more likely than nonviolent video games to present gender and racial stereotypes, which could lead to aggression toward the stereotyped groups presented in the game. Finally, violent video games may decrease pro-social behaviour among children and adolescents, leading to a greater likelihood of problematic behaviour later in adulthood. This paper aims to demonstrate that children who play violent video games are more likely than those who do not play violent video games to develop aggressive behaviour later in adulthood. The author offers a clear map to help the reader to understand the organization of the paper and the connections between the sections. Each section of the paper is outlined in this paragraph. Short Term Effects of Playing Violent Video Games Headings are useful for delineating sections of a paper. For APA, main headings are boldface and centred. Headings should clearly indicate the topic of the section. Researchers have cited various negative short term effects related to playing violent video games. In children particularly, it has been noted by Anderson et al. (2010) that short term videogame playing (meaning 15 minutes or less) increased physiological arousal and aggressive cognition among the study s sample group of children. Similar findings were discovered by Barlett, Anderson and Swing (2009). Participants experienced heightened heart rate and blood pressure, all while sitting down without engaging in any physical activity or exertion. Barlett et al. describe physiological arousal as a negative outcome for children because heightened physical arousal can be related to an increase in aggressive behaviour. That aggressive behaviour may be misattributed to another provoking event rather than the violent game. In other words, a child who is agitated from violent gaming may react aggressively to otherwise minor

4 CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES 4 annoyances. This paragraph focuses on one idea by presenting a main point (physiological arousal is a short term effect), using evidence to support the point, explaining the evidence (physiological arousal linked to aggressive behaviour), and linking it to the main point of the section or the paper. In addition to heightened physiological arousal, Barlett et al. (2009) found that participants experienced more aggressive feelings after playing violent video games than they did after playing nonviolent videogames. Although the author is still using evidence from an author cited in the previous paragraph, the evidence supports a different idea (comparison between violent and non-violent video games), so it requires its own paragraph. This also demonstrates how different sources are connected Comparable results by Anderson and Carnagey (2009) revealed that violent videogame participants displayed higher levels of aggressive cognition than participants who had played nonviolent games. In the same study, participants who had recently played a violent sports video game verbally identified aggressive words faster than those who played a standard simulationbased sports video game. Research conducted by Anderson et al. (2010) found that short term violent videogame playing primes existing knowledge structures to respond aggressively. With repeated exposure, children may develop a schema primed to aggression. Children who are more aggressive and experience higher physiological arousal may subsequently suffer poor academic performance, as well as experience behavioural conduct problems and social problems. The studies present findings which suggest that children may suffer numerous psychological consequences from playing violent video games in a short term timeframe. However, the evidence about the long term effects of playing violent video games paints a much more worrisome outcome for children who play them. This paragraph synthesizes the two points the author presents in this section while offering an analysis of the findings. Also note the link to the next section about the long-term effects.

5 CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES 5 Long Term Effects of Playing Violent Video Games Repeated exposure to violent media of any sort has been seen to negatively influence children (Anderson & Carnagey, 2009). Several articles have pointed to personality changes, hostility and desensitization to violence as some of the permanent costs associated with violent gaming in childhood and adolescence. Barlett et al. (2009) explain that repeated exposure to violent video games reinforces aggression-related knowledge structures such as aggressive expectation schema, aggressive behaviour scripts, aggression desensitization, and aggressive beliefs and attitudes. All of these knowledge structures may lend to a more aggressive personality into adulthood. Anderson and Carnagey (2009) report similar findings related to social-cognitive changes associated with violent videogame playing. Furthermore, Anderson et al. (2010) note that the home environment of children may exacerbate the long term effects of playing violent video games. If parents and the greater community are supportive of certain types of violence, children may very well become more aggressive with time. Parents and communities who do not condone violence and who are involved in their children s media use have been seen to have protective qualities and may buffer long term effects of playing violent video games. Note how the author refers to sources directly in the presentation of empirical literature. This attribution allows the author to clearly integrate multiple findings that support a common idea in one paragraph. Throughout, this author also uses transitional words like similar or furthermore to note the connections between sources. Bartholow, Sestir and Davis (2005) link long term violent videogame playing to an increase in hostility and a decrease in empathy. Seemingly stable personality features can be altered through exposure to violent media especially in childhood and adolescence when individuals are particularly vulnerable to external influences. In the study by Bartholow et al., participants who had been exposed long term to violent videogames self-reported higher physical

6 CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES 6 aggression even when the variables of personality and temperament were controlled. Increased aggression may cause individuals to suffer a host of problems into adulthood. Romantic partnerships, career prospects, friendships, and family relationships may all suffer if an individual reacts aggressively to negative life experiences. This list demonstrates parallel structure: all four items in this list are in the same grammatical form (they are all plural nouns). Parallel construction makes sentences with lists or series clearer and easier to understand. Though one brief exposure to violence in video games may be too weak to shift attitudes and behaviour, repeated, long term exposure has been seen to have unfavourable outcomes for children. Gender Stereotypes in Violent Video Games In addition to contributing to increased aggression both in the long and short term, violent video games present various gender and racial stereotypes. These stereotypes most often included hypermasculine or highly sexualized characters and racist sentiments. The presence of negative stereotypes coupled with violence in video games is a dangerous combination, which could lead children to endure consequences besides increased aggression into adulthood. Be cautious with vague or general writing. Consequences besides increased aggression needs explanation. The author explains the consequences later in the paragraph (tolerance of objectification and accounts of sexual abuse) and links these findings to the larger questions of the paper. However, these points should be closer to the original statement about consequences. Similarly, Burgess, Dill, Stermer, Burgess and Brown (2011) revealed that minority females are virtually absent from game representations. The absence of minority females could be more clearly connected to the paragraph. The point is relevant, but that relevance could be explained more clearly to the reader. Moreover, the authors findings suggested that males who have been exposed to video games

7 CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES 7 that promote women as sexual objects and males as dominant figures are more tolerant to accounts of sexual abuse when presented with a real-life case study. Adolescents, especially males, could develop aggression toward females if they are repeatedly presented with sexualized images and stereotypes of them. Brenick, Henning, Killen, O Connor and Collins (2007) revealed that males were more likely than females to find stereotypes acceptable in video games. These disturbing findings suggest that exposure to stereotypic imagery in virtual media can alter social judgements. The author may wish to exercise caution with value-laden words like disturbing. Instead, words like notable or important indicate the impact of the findings. Furthermore, the results indicated that individuals who play video games with high frequency are more likely to condone negative stereotypic images of both males and females than individuals who play video games with low frequency. Together, these findings indicate that male highfrequency players may show increases in aggression and are more likely to accept this aggression perhaps due to hyper-masculine imagery rampant in such video games. Those who are more accepting of aggressive attitudes are presumably more likely to act aggressively in situations that provoke them. Brenick et al. are quick to add that repeated and prolonged exposure to stereotypic material can reinforce discriminatory attitudes and potentially lead to aggressive behaviour. Racial Stereotypes in Violent Video Games Beginning a new section with a transitional word like other creates a strong link between the sections of the paper, which works to develop a cohesive argument. Other video games present racist stereotypes depicting African American and Hispanics. One of the most prominent games that exhibits racist stereotypes is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. Leonard (2009) analyzes the overtly racist attitudes portrayed by the game. The game

8 CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES 8 allows players to form gangs; commit drive-by shootings; and engage in rape, murder and prostitution. Not only does Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas glamourize the gang lifestyle through its player-controlled African-American character Carl Johnson, it promotes violence and thuggery as the epitome of masculine dominance. In one scene, Carl and his gang sneak into the home of an unsuspecting white couple. As the white man attempts to protect his blonde wife, he states you probably can t read clearly linking criminality and lack of education with being black. Though the game is rated M for Mature it can still be bought for and played by minors, who are influenced by these entrenched stereotypes about race and violence (Leonard, 2009). Before the racialized violence of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City appeared on the market in Vice City actively portrayed Cubans and Haitians as criminals. After public protest, the game s producer agreed to remove the lines Kill the Haitians and Kill the Cubans from the game (Burgess et al., 2011). Linking overt stereotypes with virtual violence may cause users to develop aggressive knowledge structures directly related to specific populations. Developing schema primed for aggression, especially toward certain ethnicities or groups of people may lead to an individual reacting aggressively toward them in future instances. Similar findings were discovered by Burgess et al. (2011). They examined videogame magazines and found that minority males were underrepresented compared to white males and were more likely to be portrayed as thugs or as athletes. Children and adolescents who play these games may be more likely than adults to internalize such stereotypes. This, in turn, may lead to aggressive behaviour, and possibly violence towards racial minorities, into adulthood. It is important to demonstrate your analysis of the research. Explain the meaning of the findings as they relate to the argument presented in the paper. The author does this successfully in this paragraph.

9 CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES 9 Violent Video Games May Decrease Pro-Social Behaviour This paper has demonstrated the many consequences of playing violent video games. Much attention has been focused on children s and adolescents development of aggressiveness into adulthood. However, researchers present another key criticism of violent gaming: the decrease in players pro-social behaviour. Anderson et al. (2010) found that violent videogame exposure was significantly related to lower pro-social behaviour regardless of research design. Barlett et al. (2009) suggest that violent video games may contribute to lower self-reported empathy in children. Individuals lower in empathy may react more aggressively in real life situations that require them to forgive, or behave sensitively or caringly. Additionally, Barlett et al. found that playing video games, especially in early childhood, is associated with symptoms of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). High physiological arousal, which is associated with violent video games, coupled with difficulties focusing in children with ADD/ADHD may contribute to problems in school and among peers, leading to potentially aggressive behaviour. Bartholow et al. (2005) found that repeated exposure to violent video games may increase aggressive behaviour due to changes in cognitive and personality factors. Significant findings suggested that an increase in hostility was associated with aggression. Similar findings showed a decrease in empathy associated with aggression (Bartholow et al., 2005). Echoing the mentioned findings, Hastings, et al. (2009) found that high frequency videogame playing was associated with lower school performance and externalizing behaviour, which can negatively influence pro-social behaviour. Children who exhibit a decrease in prosocial behaviour such as sharing, cooperation and helpfulness may display aggressive, hostile

10 CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES 10 behaviours into adulthood if no intervention takes place. Through this paragraph, the author uses specific and clear language to explain the meaning of prosocial behaviour and how gaming can negatively influence empathy and hostility. This use of specific examples and clear descriptions helps the reader to understand how the evidence supports this major point and how this point supports the overall argument. It has been shown that there are many negative outcomes for those, especially children and adolescents, who play violent video games. Aggression into adulthood is a salient consequence children may face as a result of playing violent video games. The research suggests the short term effects of playing violent video games include higher physiological arousal, and aggressive cognition and behaviour. Some of the long term effects of playing violent video games include desensitization to violence, knowledge structures primed to aggression, and permanent personality changes associated with higher aggressive affect. It was also found that violent video games portray various gender stereotypes including hyper-masculine men and objectified women. High frequency players were found to be more accepting of gender stereotypes in video games and more tolerant of accounts of sexual abuse. Additionally, violent video games were found to exhibit overt as well as covert racial stereotypes, which may incite aggressive behaviour later in life. Finally, the research suggests that repeated exposure to violent video games may decrease pro-social behaviour such as empathy. Children and adolescents who are exposed to negative images such as gender and racial stereotypes coupled with violence may be more likely to carry on prejudiced attitudes and to lack empathy. These factors make it more likely for children to develop into adults who behave aggressively. Ultimately, violent video games in childhood and adolescence is likely to contribute to aggressive behaviour later in adulthood. The author does not include any new evidence in the conclusion; instead, the author synthesizes the findings presented in all the sections into a meaningful discussion that supports the thesis.

11 CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES 11 The Reference list begins on a new page. It is double-spaced and all entries require a hanging indent. For information on APA citations, see the ASC Documentation Guide. References Anderson, C. A. & Carnagey, N. L. (2009). Causal effects of violent sports video games on aggression: Is it competitiveness or violent content? Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 45, doi: /j.jesp Anderson, C. A., Shibuya, A., Ihori, N., Swing, E. L., Bushman, B. J., Sakamoto, A., Rothstein, H. R. & Saleem, M. (2010). Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy and prosocial behaviour in eastern and western countries: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin, 136, doi: /a Barlett, C. P., Anderson, C. A. & Swing, E. L. (2009). Video game effects Confirmed, suspected and speculative. Simulation & Gaming, 40, doi: / Bartholow, B. D., Sestir, M. A. & Davis, E. B. (2005). Correlates and consequences of exposure to video game violence: Hostile personality, empathy and aggressive behaviour. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, doi: /

12 CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES 12 Bijvank, M. N., Konijn, E. A., & Bushman, B. J. (2012). We don t need no education : Video game preferences, video game motivations, and aggressiveness among adolescent boys of different educational ability levels. Journal of Adolescence, 35, doi: /j.adolescence Brenick, A., Henning, A., Killen, M., O Connor, A. & Collins, M. (2007). Social evaluations of stereotypic images in videogames: Unfair, legitimate or just entertainment? Youth & Society, 38, doi: / X Burgess, M. C., Dill, K. E., Stermer, S. P., Burgess, S. R., & Brown, B. P. (2011). Playing with prejudice: The prevalence and consequences of racial stereotypes in video games. Media Psychology, 14, doi: / Ferguson, C. J., San Miguel, C., Garza, A., & Jerabeck, J. M. (2012). A longitudinal test of video game violence influences on dating and aggression: A 3-year longitudinal study of adolescents. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 46, doi: /j.jpsychires Hastings, E. C., Karas, T. L., Winsler, A., Way, E., Madigan, A., & Tyler, S. (2009). Young children s video/computer game use: Relations with school performance and behaviour. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 30, doi: /

13 CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLENT VIDEO GAMES 13 Leonard, D. (2009). Young, black (& brown) and don t give a fuck: Virtual gangstas in the era of state violence. Cultural Studies, Critical Methodologies, 9, doi: /

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