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Behavioral Problems Caused by Video Games


Video games can be played by people representing different age groups and even sexes. Their greatest appeal is that they offer a version of reality in which a person can feel invincible or all-powerful at least for a short time. They give access to the environment in which people can easily satisfy their needs without taking too much effort or accepting responsibility for their actions.

This paper will show that video games cause several behavioral problems such as tolerance of violence and delinquency, hyperactivity, depression and lack of attention to the needs of other people. On the whole, this trend appears to be very disturbing, especially when one is talking about children or adolescents because they are most susceptible to the examples that are set by video games. Yet, one should note that video games can also adversely affect adults. Thus, it is vital to examine these effects.

Behavioral problems caused by video games


According to statistical findings, approximately 80 percent of gamers are “between sixteen and thirty -four” (Berger 57). Yet, one should note that the accessibility of video games increases each year. Thus, in the future more and more teenagers or children can become exposed to this form of entertainment. For instance, the recent study by Douglas Gentile shows that more and more children are becoming addicted to video games (Gentile 594). Therefore, the accessibility of video games will only increase in the future. Those people, who examine the negative effects of video games, focus primarily on the behavior of children and adolescents, because they now constitute the majority of people who video games.

One of the problems observed by psychologists is hyperactivity and attention-deficit disorder. The thing is that many gamers become accustomed to the idea that their needs can be quickly satisfied in the virtual space, and it is difficult for them to live in an environment where an individual has to take effort or concentrate (Berger 57). As a result, they often fail to focus on the tasks requiring mental effort. This problem can affect the work of teachers who will have to design new tasks.

This issue is particularly important for students attending high school because at this stage learners have to work independently on assignments and projects that require planning, analytical skills or concentration. In this regard, one can mention the study done by Erin Hastings et al. According to its findings, people who continuously play violent video game, usually produce poorer academic results, especially in comparison with students who do not (Hastings et al 645).

Thus, one can argue the cognitive abilities of these individuals can decline. They are unwilling to pay attention to details and they may not be able to organize their activities properly. In the future, it may be difficult for such an individual to focus on academic or professional tasks. Provided that this problem is not resolved, these people find it difficult to secure employment. Certainly, a person can use video games as a means of distraction, but one should always remember about the sense of proportion. Otherwise, it will be impossible for them to concentrate on any activity, especially learning. Thus, lack of concentration is one of the issues that parents and teachers should be aware of.

Acceptance of violence and delinquency

Additionally, researchers determined that there was a positive correlation between the exposure to violence in video games and the tendency to act violently (Willoughby et al 1054). The problem is that in many games, the use of brutal force has been made acceptable. Moreover, the violence in video games creates a certain set of emotions can linger for a long time (Willoughby et al 1054). For instance, a person can be very irritable after playing such many video games.

Moreover, they tend to forget that in real-life aggressive behavior can be punished. The study carried out by Willoughby et al. shows that students, who play violent video games for several years, are more likely to behave aggressively in the future (1054). Apart from that, people who play violent video games are less likely to help another person. (Saleem, Anderson, and Gentile 285). It may not occur to some of these people that argumentation can be more effective than brutal force.

They will face significant difficulties when they have to resolve conflicts because they will think that aggression or violence is the best way of settling such conflicts. The problem is that these people can associate violence with such things power or invincibility. They will eventually have a distorted perception of reality and this danger that parents and educators should not disregard if they want to ensure proper mental and psychological development of children.

Researchers also point out that many video games make delinquent behavior more acceptable. In their study Julia Fischer et al argue that in many games, theft, robbery, or speeding are the only ways of achieving the goals of the game (Fischer et al 202). The authors refer to such games Grand Theft Auto or Mafia, in which a gamer can violate a great number of laws (Fischer et al 202). Gamers can overlook the idea that such activities are prohibited by ethical and legal norms.

They researchers surveyed those people who continuously played video games and many of the respondents did not condemn criminal activities such as theft (Fischer et al, 204). Admittedly, one cannot assume that each of these people will commit a crime in the future. Nevertheless, the very attitudes of these people are alarming because these people do not see the immorality of delinquent behavior. Thus, parents and policy-makers should make such games less accessible to teenagers in order to raise them as law-abiding people.

Admittedly, one cannot assume that the attitude toward violence or cruelty depends only on such a factor as playing video games. In this case, one should mention such issues as the educational background of parents, their parenting skills, or the amount of time that they spend with children. These factors can mitigate negative effects of video games. However, by limiting ones exposure to video games, a person can avert many threats to ones mental health. The problem of delinquency and violence can have profound implications for parents and educators who must find ways of helping these children or adolescents.

Aggression and delinquency are not the only behavioral problem can be caused by violent video games. As it has been noted before, video games can make violence and suffering acceptable. Therefore, a gamer may lack empathy when other people can be in trouble (Berger 57). It will be difficult for them to distinguish between reality and virtual space. When facing cruelty or violence, they can simply become indifferent. This is one of the key problems that parents and educators should avoid.

Lack of empathy toward other people can be one of the reasons why many teenagers can commit crimes and treat others in a cruel way. Admittedly, long-term effects of video games have to be fully examined. One cannot fully prove that video games inevitably lead to violence or apathy. However, if there is at least slightest possibility of such a risk, one should not overlook it. The thing is that gamers can witness hundreds of people being killed in a virtual space.

However, it is not clear how they will respond to real-life violence or cruelty. It is probable that they will not offer any kind of help to those people who suffer from this cruelty. This is why parents should make sure that their children do not have an easy access to such games. On the whole, behavioral problems that have been described are mostly typical of adolescents or children. Yet, video games can also affect the behavior of adults. These examples will be discussed in the following sections of this paper.


One should take into account that video games can significantly increase a person’s depressive tendencies. The problem is that many people turn to games because they cannot cope with daily problems (Gentile, 597). Such behavior is more widespread among teenagers or adults. By escaping from reality into a video game, these individuals can feel normal once again. In their opinion, gaming can help them become distracted from daily problems. To some degree, video games offer them a false sense of relief and security.

The thing is that sooner or later they have to confront reality, and they can be overcome by the feeling of worthlessness. Moreover, they will have to admit that video games did not resolve any of their problems. So, they can eventually become even more depressed. Therefore, playing video games can only reinforce their anxieties or decrease their self-esteem. In the long term, such an individual will have to seek professional assistance. There is another way in which video games can cause depression.

A gamer is accustomed to action-packed life in which every stage of the game offers new challenges. As a result, real life can seem less exciting to him/her. This contrast can eventually result into boredom and depression. Overall, such experiences can be familiar to people of different age groups. Admittedly, video games can be used as a means of distraction, and a person should not assume that they can shield people against every problem. Sooner or later, such a world view can give rise to different mood disorders, especially depression. Mostly, adolescents and adults are exposed to this risk, and their relatives should prevent them from acting in this way.

Lack of attention to the needs of other people

Apart from that, the research findings suggest that pathological gamers can be less attentive to the needs of other people. For instance, they often forget about daily chores and promises made to other people (Gentile, 597). They can believe that the needs of other people are of little importance. In this case, one can speak about pathological addiction to video games. The national survey conducted by Douglas Gentile indicates that approximately 8 percent of gamers whose age ranges from 8 to 18 have a strong need for playing video games (Gentile, 594). For some of them, it is unthinkable to spend a day without video games. The thing is that can become less sensitive to others. Overall, people representing different age groups can act in this way.


The examples described before illustrate the negative effects of video games, especially, those ones that involve violence, delinquency, or any other form of cruelty. Admittedly, there are many educational and pro-social video games that really help a person develop analytical skills or teach proper forms of behavior. Educational psychologists argue that some educational games such as Reader Rabbit or Math Blaster can lead to better academic performance (Hastings et al 641). These videogames can benefit students who are now in the primary school. Parents can allow their children to play these video games. The problem is that these video games constitute only a very small minority. In most cases, video games do not contribute to the proper psychological or moral development of an individual. In fact, they only distort this development.


Therefore, this discussion can have several important implications. First of all continuous exposure to video games can result into hyperactivity disorder, tendency toward aggressive behavior, addiction to video games and lack of empathy. Although, the problems can affect people of different ages, their impact can be very strong on children and adolescents. The task of parents is to minimize the exposure of their children to such video games. In this way, they will minimize a great number of risks. As it has been shown, such form of entertainment can adversely people of various age groups. Therefore, gamers should be aware of the dangers to which they are exposed.

Works Cited

Berger, Arthur. Video Games: A Popular Culture Phenomenon, New York: Transaction Publishers, 2002. Print.

Fischer Julia, Aydin. Nilufer, Andreas, Kastenmuller, and Dieter, Frey. “The Delinquent Media Effect: Delinquency-Reinforcing Video Games Increase Players Attitudinal And Behavioral Inclination Toward Delinquent Behavior.” Psychology Of Popular Media Culture 20. 1(2012): 201-205. Print.

Gentile, Douglas. “Pathological Video-Game Use Among Youth Ages 8 To 18: A National Study.” Psychological Science 20.5 (2009): 594-602. Print.

Hastings, Erin, Tamara, Karas, Adam Winsler, and Erin, Way. “Young Children’s Video/Computer Game Use: Relations With School Performance And Behavior.” Issues In Mental Health Nursing 30.10 (2009): 638-649. Print.

Saleem, Muniba, Craig A. Anderson, and Douglas A. Gentile. “Effects Of Prosocial, Neutral, And Violent Video Games On Children’s Helpful And Hurtful Behaviors.” Aggressive Behavior 38.4 (2012): 281-287. Print.

Willoughby, Teena, Paul J. C. Adachi, and Marie Good. “A Longitudinal Study Of The Association Between Violent Video Game Play And Aggression Among Adolescents.” Developmental Psychology 48.4 (2012): 1044-1057. Print.

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