Book Review – Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents

Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents is an indispensable tool for parents and professionals who want to have important knowledge to make wise decisions about video game use in the lives of children and teens. One of the most exasperating challenges about trying to communicate about the negative effects of violent video games is that well-intentioned adults often say: But the verdict is not in yet on whether violent video game play is all that harmful. Video games are too new to have acquired any compelling data. Anderson, Gentile, and Buckley comprehensively slice through this, and other inaccurate and misleading arguments, that have been used to prevent parents, professionals, and policy-makers to deal productively with this critical issue.

Divided into three parts, the book can be picked up at any juncture to enlighten the reader on the complexities of interpreting the research and in understanding violent video game play in the context of bio-social and developmental factors. Part 1, The Introduction, provides a background on the history of violent video games; a well-documented summary of the effects of exposure to violent media entertainment, with clear definitions of physical, verbal and relational aggression, and important considerations of three types of research methodologies. This section also describes The General Aggression Model-a model developed by Anderson, Bushman, Carnagey, and Huesmann (p. 40) to integrate ideas from earlier models and to help distinguish between variables and processes that operate in immediate contexts and those that operate over a long-term. Part 2 explains and discuses three new studies that “were designed to address knowledge gaps in the video game research literature.” (p. 59) Part 3, General Discussion (What Does it All Mean?) provides critical links between theory, practice, and public policy, providing even more reasons for urgent action at both micro and macro levels.

The authors begin with, and consistently keep, a refreshingly honest and clear approach. For instance, Anderson and his colleagues call “a duck a duck” and discuss the c-word-causality-with academic rigor grounded in common sense.

Critics of violent media research like to remind us that we can never establish causality. But the authors refute this argument eloquently by helping us understand the probabilistic nature of causality:

“The old Logic 101 principles regarding the establishment of a factor as being necessary and sufficient cause of an effect simply don’t apply to most modern science (Anderson & Bushman, 2002c). We know that smoking tobacco causes an increase in the likelihood that one will contract lung cancer, but not everyone who smokes gets cancer, and some who don’t smoke get lung cancer. The probabilistic nature of modern science is largely due to the fact that multiple causal factors are involved in most medical, psychological, and behavioral phenomena. And for this reason, the old necessary and sufficient rules simply do not apply. Thus every time people argue that violent video games can’t be considered causes of aggression because they have played such games and haven’t killed anyone is committing a major reasoning error, applying the ‘sufficient’ rule to a multiple cause phenomenon.” (p. 21)

The authors go on to systematically explain aggression in terms of contextual factors over time, heightening this reader’s awareness of the profound contribution violent video games are making to increased aggression. Reading about the General Aggression model, in particular, brought me several ‘a-has.’ The model is based “on the assumption that human memory, thought, and decision processes can be represented as a complex associative network of nodes representing cognitive concepts and emotions.” (p. 41)

The General Aggression Model is a powerful tool because, like our work at the PCI, it takes into account multiple environmental factors when attempting to determine causality. I am drawn to the elegance by which it clearly addresses the complexities of living systems. In fact, the authors point out the General Aggression Model can be used to incorporate variables within what we call at the PCI, The Child’s and the Parent’s Growth Sphere. The authors cite the work of Bronfenbrenner’s ecological levels (p.45), providing a comprehensive framework for understanding the impact of violent entertainment that many parent educators, and certainly PCI Certified Parent Coaches, will immediately grasp, helping them to better explain to parents the inherent risks of children and teens playing violent video games.

Extreme acts of violence such as the Columbine shootings are never isolated from past and present bio-social interactions. The authors point out that habitual aggressive tendencies are most likely to develop in children who grow up in environments that reinforce aggression, provide aggressive models, frustrate and victimize them, and teach them that aggression is acceptable and successful. (p. 47) As our society becomes more violent, as more children are bullied, as more are victimized, as the news keeps amplifying these incidents, it only stands to reason that increases in aggression will continue as the world “mirrors back” violent mental models. Fortunately there are many ways to intervene so as to disrupt this cycle, but they all require a focused intent and an open willingness to make consistent choices that many parents can’t make because they don’t have the necessary information and that many professional don’t make because it is too difficult to help parents to make choices that are considered “weird” or “different” from the mainstream.

After finishing the Introduction section most readers will sit back and say to themselves: What in the world are we doing to our children? How can we stop this madness?

Luckily the book answers these questions.

The next section discusses three important studies. If the language is too technical, the authors have provided an “in a nutshell” explanation of each study. By reading the one-two page brief, readers can understand what happened and consider the implications. I love the questions that the authors include: “What worries us? What gives us hope?” For instance in one study, what worries us is that no one is immune to media violence. Yet, what gives us hope is that Again, parents are in a powerful position. Setting limits on the amount and content of screen media appears to be a protective factor for children. Truly, our work with families can be the most transformative work we do. For every child who grows up not playing violent video games means that the larger social structure is impacted by more peace and sanity and that the next generation will have greater possibilities for bringer even more peace and sanity to the family, the community, and the world.

Reading Section 3 helps to think about important consideration and once again, the urgent need for action. After all, the authors are first and foremost researchers and have at their fingertips it seems ways to connect the dots so that the reader cannot but help to be motivated to do something! For instance, they distinguish between old and new violent media. I did this as well in my book, Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill. However, since 1999 when that book was published, violent video game entertainment has gotten much more sophisticated and certainly more available to younger children. The questions and points raised by Anderson and his colleagues in considering the differences and issues between older and the newer forms can help the reader understand the processes involved, in the challenges, as well as in the solutions. This entire section, to me, is like taking a retreat and reflecting on important issues in order to determine one’s priorities. One can get renewed commitment and feelings of energy for the issue by contemplating the compelling ideas the authors discuss.

I am very grateful that they refute the catharsis argument-that playing violent video games can help youngster “get out” their aggression. Nothing could be further from the truth. Citing brain research-we do know that repeating experiences is one effective way to learn them-the authors squelch this myth. They also point out that aggression is not a drive, but learned behavior, and that violent video games cannot help “vent” because catharsis carries with it feelings of pity and fear. In other words, the player must also identify with the victim and understand the entire narrative. Players are identifying with the murder. With such a reinforcing metacognitive script, there is no catharsis.

It takes a book to explain this issue. It takes long sentences, technical ideas, and complex ideas. It takes well-thought out, impeccably conducted research studies. Therefore, the suggestions given at the end of the book are sound and good ones. But they are the “what” of the situation, not the “how.” These suggestions have been given for over fifty years now and so few can make them a part of their lives. For instance, telling parents and grandparents: Don’t allow access to violent video games, is absolutely important. Yet, in our work with thousands of parents as educators and parent coaches, we know that most moms, dads, grandparents, and care-givers are not doing this even though they are well-intentioned and love the children. The reasons for this are as complex as the effects of violent video games. I would encourage these researchers to begin here with the next research imperative: Since we know violent entertainment is harmful, what works to assist parents, grandparents, and care-givers to make the daily, tough secondary choices that align with their fundamental choice to limit the harmful effective of violent media entertainment?

Copyright Gloria DeGaetano, 2010. All Rights Reserved,

Wave Goodbye to Boredom With Free Online Games and Naughty Games

The idea of playing free games is a never ending source to kill your boredom on any dull day. It just never seems to get old, online games will always be there to entertain you and the most boring times of the day. Depending on your age and your taste in games, you are sure to find any type of genre you are looking to play.

These types of free games and activities can barely teach you anything that is inappropriate other than kissing someone which most kids already know how to do. The naughty games category is full of all types of games through which we can enjoy and express our naughty side. Most of these types of free games are embarrassing for the fictional characters when caught but fun for us to play.

Some online games and naughty games alike are mostly more intense than other free games. Depending on your age, gender, personality, and current mood, you can apply your interest in these types of games and get the most fun out of your free time on the Internet accordingly. Make sure you enjoy playing each naughty game without having to think about school work or chores. It is always best to complete your daily tasks in reality before you jump into your online fantasy world because you won’t have anything to worry about. You will just be able to sit back and relax and enjoy your time on the Internet.

The Internet is full of literally hundreds of thousands of free online games. Get busy playing online games for free and start playing naughty games to bring out your naughty side. This type of free entertainment can keep you entertained for hours. You must of course ask for your parents’ permission because free online games like these are on the verge of being banned. That is why games like this are so fun and swarming the Internet. They need to be created just right so that they will still be family friendly. Some of these games have become a part of the popular online gaming trend.

Developers need to be very careful when they create these types of games because they have to keep a close eye on the games that they are creating. If the game is too inappropriate for children under the age of thirteen, the naughty game might be taken off a family website and the developer will lose money because his or her game won’t be able to be played anymore.

How to Find the Best Free Online Games

Online games are very interesting to play. When they are available for free, no one can resist playing them. Many people encounter the problem of finding sources for the best free online games. Even so, it is not very tough. Those who regularly play online games don’t have a problem finding interesting and suitable games.

There are free online games available on almost every game website. Certain websites are especially geared towards the game maniacs, and on these websites, many can easily log in and search for their favorite games. If you are looking for a specific game, you can type the name of the game in the search box, and then you will have it right in front of you. For example, if you are interested in a special kind of game, like war games, simply click on that option, or type “war games” in the search box. All of these sources for the best free online games are loaded with games for all kinds of players from kids to adults.

There are even certain websites particularly designed that specially serve specific groups of players. For kids of a very young age, the games have a very colorful design, and they rules are not difficult to follow. There is usually less competition and stress involved with these games.

The sources for the best free online games for teenagers and adults will tend to have games that are more complex, romantic in nature, fast, and tricky. There is more alertness required of the players of these games. Some of these online games charge for playing, while some of them are completely free. Therefore, one should keep in mind that it is a benefit to be able to play these games without spending a penny. The sources for free online games are visited and used the most.

You can find a variety of websites that are regarded the best websites for buying and selling video and computer games. On some of these websites, you can find things that are generally related to video games. They offer video game based greeting cards, video games wallpaper, and other things. There are many free online games that are available, and they can be shooting games, adventure games, sports, animated games, 3D games, cool games, hot games, fast games, flashing games, dragon games, war games, street racer, make up games, fear factor games, heart breaker games and more. Accessing these games is simple. All it takes is one click of a mouse.

The internet is a great source for free games that you can play for hours.

Free Mobile Phone Games Come to the IPhone

Ever since the advent of the personal computer, people have looked to them for entertainment just as much as for business use. This holds true to this day, and portable devices are no exceptions. When the work is done, here are a few iPhone games that will provide hours of fun and won’t cost you a cent.

Sol Free Solitaire (Smallware) – One of the ultimate time killers ever to come to computers, it’s only natural that it would come to the iPhone. Sol Free Solitaire contains five games in one: Klondike Deal 1, Klondike Deal 3, Baker’s Game, Demon and Spiderette. The perfect, age old way to pass a little or a lot of time.

Bejeweled (PopCap Games) – One of the most popular games ever created by PopCap Games, Bejeweled is a simple puzzle game that’s fun and highly addictive. Match three or more jewels of different colors and shapes by swapping two at a time to clear them from the board. Creating combos by matches falling into place creates special gems that can clear several around itself or clear all of one color from the board.

TapTap Revenge (Tapulous) – Rhythm games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero have become very popular lately. Many software companies look to create similar games to provide a variety of choices. TapTap Revenge is one such game. Catch the falling arrows synced to its own music by tapping the screen or shaking the iPhone from side to side. Also includes a two player mode to compete with your friends.

Duck Hunt (Nintendo) – A classic console game emulated for the iPhone. Tap the screen to fire up to three shots at the duck flying around (two ducks in later rounds) before they fly away. Ten ducks advances you to the next round, which start flying faster. A great game for coordination or a bit of nostalgia (stop laughing at me, dog!).

The Battle for Orion’s Belt (Cellufun) – A unique game out of the bunch, The Battle for Orion’s Belt is a top-down action game that pits your spaceship against others in an engaging story where you rise from the ranks and eventually command a squadron of your own. Upgradeable ships, customizable controls and unlocked trophies will have you coming back again and again to put your top score in the game’s community.

Of course, this list only scratches the surface of the available free mobile phone games for the iPhone. There are literally hundreds of games in every genre imaginable: sports, action, adventure, card games, board games, pet simulators and some which defy all categories. Quite a few of them won’t cost you a cent, but you should always be careful. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for. But these are few and far between. For every game that feels like it was thrown together in an afternoon, there’s another that has an unexpected amount of detail and work put into it. With enough time, you’re sure to find games that you’ll play over and over again.