Every day, kids and young adults spend most of their time using some form of digital media. This paper will focus on how much influence videogames and digital media have on today's youth. Video games are well known for their popularity and kids generally like playing them to have fun. In addition, this paper will show how video games and aggression can be linked and what can be done to prevent it.
Youth Aggression and Digital Media
There are different ways to classify media in today's society. Media includes video games, music, newspapers, internet, magazines and television. With ever-growing interests of electronic media devices, it would be unfortunate for mature-rated content to fall into the hands of a child who cannot yet comprehend what he/she is viewing. This is a very important issue for parents or any individual who is concerned with what their child or any child may have their hands on, for it could cause disturbances (e.g. reenacting what they see on TV). Studying how video games could cause a negative effect on youth might help provide a better insight to why it is important to keep violent games away from those not old enough to play them.
There is much evidence that suggest in the United States how video games are becoming the popular form of media. For example, in 2004 the video gaming industry capped out at $9.9 billion, which is more than $1 billion that box-office (movies) made in sales the same year (Morris, 2005). In 2004, five of the top-10 bestselling video games were classified by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) as having violent themes behind them (NPD Group, 2005).
While violent video games have become increasingly popular in modern households, it also raises concerns to why parents allow their children to be exposed to things such as violence in the first place. Some parents do not realize that the longer their children are being exposed to violence, the more prone they are to exert violence (Anderson & Bushman p.355). A disturbing example of this violence would be in 2011; a 16-year-old boy became frustrated while playing his video game and in his rage, he murdered his mother by chopping her body apart and trying to cremate her in the kitchen oven to hide the evidence. All of this came after his mother punished him from playing his Playstation 3 (Yam, 2011).
The correlation between frustration and aggression can be traced back to the frustration-aggression hypothesis (Dollard, 1939). Berkowitz and Harmon-Jones (2004) rephrased this hypothesis, to state, "barriers to the attainment of an expected gratification produce instigation to aggression" (Berkowitz & Harmon-Jones 2004, p.111). In other words, frustration can be built in the occurrence of an event (e.g.: obstacle) that prevents a goal from being reached (e.g.: winning, gratification). In practical terms, those who are proposed to facing obstacles (video game related) are trying to achieve the goal by beating a level. During this time one must face several challenges and as the game progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult causing one to build up frustration and anger thus, manifesting itself into reality.