Video Games do not Affect Teens

Whether parents like it or not, video games have become a big part of many teenagers’ lives. The popularity of video games has sparked an ongoing public debate regarding the impact of video games on teenagers’ behaviour. Much of the attention of this debate has been towards the negative effects of video games related to addiction, aggression, antisocial behaviour, and lowered academic performance. The controversy surrounding this debate mandates a thorough discussion to inquire whether video games affect teens or not.

Contrary to the popular belief, several recent studies have revealed that playing video games does not affect teenagers negatively. For instance, Christopher Ferguson and Cheryl Olson in their study conclude that playing video games does not increase behavioural aggression and societal violence among teenagers. Indeed, their findings reveal that video games have a slight calming and cathartic effect on teenagers with pre-existing mental health problems such as attention deficit or depressive symptoms. These findings are supported by the Secret Service reports in which youth violence such as bullying; fist fighting, criminal assaults and even homicide were linked with aggressiveness and stress rather than video games of violent nature. Dr. Olson suggests that if playing video games helps to get the anger and stress out, than it can be a good thing for a lot of youngsters.

In terms of affecting social behaviour, Dr. Olson emphasizes that playing video games is a societal activity, as teens are likely to play video games with a group of friends or over the internet. Moreover, several studies highlight the potential use of educational video games as a tool to enhance learning and action video games to improve visual/spatial skills. Video games have also been used to teach self-care skills for asthma and diabetes and as a tool to complement psychotherapy.

However, these findings should not be generalised for all the gamers. Research also indicates that there is a certain combination of personality traits which can react adversely to excessive video gaming. Using a five-factor model which scientifically classifies neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness Dr. Patrick Markey asserts in his study that teens with high neuroticism (those who can become easily upset, angry and emotional), low agreeableness (indifferent to others; cold) and low conscientiousness (act without thinking of consequences) are most likely to become hostile due to playing action video games.

Based on the aforementioned discussion, it can suggested that video games are just like peanut butter –harmless and indeed beneficial to some extent to a vast majority of teenagers; but harmful to a small minority with pre-existing mental dispositions such as high neuroticism, less agreeableness and less conscientiousness. Therefore, it can be concluded that video games do not adversely affect teens. It is only the simultaneous combination of certain pre-existing dispositions with excessive video gaming that affects them negatively.