Computer Games and Violence: A Child\'s Friend or Foe?
There can be no doubt that the world is advancing at a rapid pace, especially when it concerns technology. There are many aspects of computerization and since everyday routines revolve alot around computers, it is important to study the effects they may have on people. In order to target a focal point, this essay will refer to the research that has been done on children and/or adolescents. The subject of this essay will deal with the effects of computer games on children with an underlying theme of violence.


When one thinks of children, what is commonly associated with them? An obvious answer would be, toys. Technology has not failed us when it comes to the production of electronic toys, more specifically computer/video games. (Please note the word usage of computer and video games; the research found used both terms, simultaneously).


Over recent years, computer games have attracted much attention in the form of criticisms, studies, opinions, and surveys, etc. There have been questions raised on whether computer games have had negative effects on children, or whether society has overreacted. One thing is for sure and that is because of the widespread concern and popularity over computer/video games, the potential effects should be addressed or at least explored.


Video games were first introduced in the 1970\'s, but it wasn\'t until the 1980\'s that they became very popular. "The resurgence of video game sales had triggered renewed interest in examining the effects of video games"(Cesarone). It should also be pointed out that many of the sources found, used or came to parallel conclusions with studies on television or the media. In Selnow\'s article, it was reported "that heavy users of television were also heavy users of arcade video games"(148). Selnow had also made a very interesting statement which could be easily correlated to video game use in the home: "while playing video games at an arcade serves some of the same needs as watching television, it also does something TV cannot--provide an active involvement with an electronic medium"(148). In the same article, speculations were made about playing video games. For example, "US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop issued a statement indicting video games for producing aberrations in childhood behavior and causing users to become addicted, body and soul"(cited in Selnow).


One way researchers have determined the effects of computer games has been by measuring times of game use by children or adolescents. A study led by Funk had found the following:


Approximately 36% of male students played video games for 1 to 2 hours per week; 29% played 3 to 6 hours; and 12% did not play at all. Among female students who played video games, approximately 42% played 1 to 2 hours per week and 15% played 3 to 6 hours. Nearly 37% of females did not play any video games. The balance of subjects played more that 6 hours per week (cited in Cesarone).


The time spent on playing video games is very important, but the types of games that are played must also be considered in studying the effects on children or adolescents. To continue with Funk\'s study, it was also found that:


video game playing among 357 seventh and eighth grade students had preferences to the types of games that they played. The two most preferred categories were games that involved fantasy violence, preferred by almost 32% of subjects; and sports games, some of which contained violent subthemes, which were preferred games with a general entertainment theme, while another 17% favored games that involved human violence. Fewer than 2% of the adolescents preferred games with educational content (Cesarone).


It is quite amazing to see how many types of games there are in the market, almost too many to count. The types may range from educational content to erotic content. For example, Macintosh produced a program in 1987 called MacPlaymate. The object of this games is for the player to undress an animated woman and stimulate her with sex toys (Reeder 156).


These days, young children and adolescents are becoming extremely computer literate and almost anything seems to be easily accessible on the Internet. "In 1991, an underground game creates a small flurry in the American computer press...The game, which is circulated on BBSs in