Child Psychology: Are Video Games a Bad Idea?

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The issue of video games being a bad or good idea has been a topic of interest for many years since the introduction of the first video game in the 20th century. Today, it is common to hear or read about crimes instigated by gamers. Their end plan is to try and replicate in real life the scenes they play in games. While the issue continues to evoke mixed reactions, many people, including experts and parents, agree that video games are not without their risks. Therefore, certain reasons support the argument that video games such as Doom and Wolfenstein 3D have a direct negative impact on children.

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1st Argument

Video games such as Doom and Mortal Kombat have been known to increase belligerent behavior. A case in point is the Columbine High School massacre, described by scholars as to the “deadliest school shooting in history” (Rowhani-Rahbar & Moe, 2019, p.12). The perpetrators of the attack, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, met while in grade seven, and the duo became inspirable. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) described Harris as a psychopath, the one who exhibited uncontrolled aggression and a lack of empathy. Klebold was termed as the one with a vengeful attitude, angry, depressive, and exhibiting low self-esteem.

The two murdered 13 students and wounded 23 before taking their lives using the guns. While it remains unclear what inspired the killings, one possible factor is violent video games. They both enjoyed playing Doom, which was licensed to be used to train the U.S. soldiers for effective killing.

2nd Argument

Violent video games affect children’s behavior because most of them learn by mimicking and observing, a concept fronted by social learning theory. According to Kühn et al. (2019), the “sense of presence and engagement” in the video game affects how one reacts to “mediated stimuli” (p. 1220). The authors maintained that exposure to the games desensitizes youths by affecting them emotionally and initiating hostile behavior.

The proponents understand how violence in video games increases aggression both in short and long-term contexts. For the former, a player experiences antagonistic thoughts, which increases the possibility of one interpreting mild provocation from a hostile point of view. In the long-term context, a gamer tends to gravitate towards positive beliefs and attitudes concerning the use of aggressive solutions.

3rd Argument

Playing violent video games compels one to perceive aggressive intents where none exists. According to General Aggression Model (GAM), “violent games constitute an antecedent variable of hostile behavior” (Yao et al., 2019, p. 663). For example, the higher the amount of exposure to these games, the higher the level of aggression is. The GAM framework states that the degree of exposure to such games promotes violence among children. One factor that causes this kind of behavior is the tendency of the minors to model themselves in a similar way to the characters they identify in the video games. Children are likely to adopt the opinions and acts of those characters they connect themselves with in the games.

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4th Argument

A timeline of video game controversies further shows why the topic requires immediate attention and a permanent solution. The controversies started in 1976 following the release of the Death Race game (Copenhaver & Ferguson, 2018). The game was later taken off the market due to public outcry. The 2012 mass shooting also stirred a debate over the effect of video games. Community groups came together to champion the removal of such types of games. The move saw the number of libraries limiting the playing some violent video games in their territories. Additionally, the investigations that were carried out on the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre and 2013 Washington Navy Yard massacre pointed to the fact that violent video games promoted aggressive behavior.

Counter Arguments

1st Counter Argument

Some opponents may argue that violent behaviors are innate and rarely caused by video games.

2nd Counter Argument

Some experts may argue that children who play video games sparingly and at the same time engage in active physical activities will benefit from their content.

3rd Counter Argument

The bone of contention might revolve around the idea that the GAM has poor validity of the aggression measures.

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4th Counter Argument

The opponents might argue that there is no single court ruling showing a clear connection between hostile behavior and video games.

Why Arguments Are Stronger Than Counter Arguments

My claim is stronger because the overwhelming evidence points to the fact that both Harris and Dylan Klebold were influenced by the Doom game.

The only problem in the second counterargument is the failure of the expert to recognize the fact that such games are interactive and encourage role-playing, thus, acting as a virtual rehearsal for real violence.

While GAM may have poor validity of the aggression measures, it does not mean that the theory is invalid or not useful in predicting violence, as evidenced above.

Although there is no single court ruling showing a connection between hostile behavior and video games, small harms tend to accumulate over time and, in the end, add up to a significant change in the player’s temperament.


The interaction and engagement in violent video games increase aggressive behavior among children. According to social learning theory, children tend to learn by mimicking and observing. Therefore, repeated exposure, as evidenced in GAM, may lead to higher levels of hostility. In fact, playing video games sometimes compels a player to start perceiving aggressive intents where no real intentions exist. However, this does not mean that all video games are bad, as evidenced by the views raised by the opponents. Therefore, there is a need to engage in public education and awareness activities targeting children, parents, teachers, and any other professionals working with minors.


Copenhaver, A., & Ferguson, C. J. (2018). Selling violent video game solutions: A look inside the APA’s internal notes leading to the creation of the APA’s 2005 resolution on violence in video games and interactive media. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 57, 77-84. Web.

Kühn, S., Kugler, D. T., Schmalen, K., Weichenberger, M., Witt, C., & Gallinat, J. (2019). Does playing violent video games cause aggression? A longitudinal intervention study. Molecular Psychiatry, 24(8), 1220-1234. Web.

Rowhani-Rahbar, A., & Moe, C. (2019). School shootings in the US: What is the state of evidence? Journal of Adolescent Health, 64(6), 683-684. Web.

Yao, M., Zhou, Y., Li, J., & Gao, X. (2019). Violent video games exposure and aggression: The role of moral disengagement, anger, hostility, and disinhibition. Aggressive Behavior, 45(6), 662-670. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. (2022, July 3). Child Psychology: Are Video Games a Bad Idea? Retrieved from


PsychologyWriting. (2022, July 3). Child Psychology: Are Video Games a Bad Idea?

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PsychologyWriting. (2022) 'Child Psychology: Are Video Games a Bad Idea'. 3 July.


PsychologyWriting. 2022. "Child Psychology: Are Video Games a Bad Idea?" July 3, 2022.

1. PsychologyWriting. "Child Psychology: Are Video Games a Bad Idea?" July 3, 2022.


PsychologyWriting. "Child Psychology: Are Video Games a Bad Idea?" July 3, 2022.