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Persuasive Effect Project

A Rebuttal to Restricting Teenagers

From Playing Video Games

Mathew Nistler

Ever Since the video game Doom released in 1993 there have been many heated

arguments and studies trying to determine if violent video games directly influence violent

behavior amongst those who play them. Over 20 years later that argument flared up once again.

When a young man entered a video game tournament in Jacksonville Florida and opened fire

fatally wounding 2 contestants. Published months after the fatal shooting, an article “Ten reasons

why video games should be banned for Children under the age of 12”[CITATION Chr16 \l

1033 ] arguing in favor for government intervention on the video game question. Picking 3

talking points from the article that are commonly used by the camp that supports restricting

access to games. The first point I will challenge is that video games cause “Physical

impairments” in teens. Second, I will counter the idea that video games cause “Brain damage”.

Finally, I will rebuke the argument that video games heighten “Aggression and/or Violence”.

The author Mr. Rowan leads with the argument that teens who play video games are

more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, obesity, myopia, and other effects related to a

sedentary lifestyle[CITATION Chr16 \l 1033 ]. The very argument relies on a causal fallacy. An

individual who spends most of their time working on schoolwork or reading books to the same

degree as a person playing video games can easily display similar symptoms, yet you don’t hear

a call for legislation to restrict children from reading so much a day or working on school work

for so many hours. To counter the effects of a sedentary lifestyle it would be more prudent to

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Persuasive Effect Project

look to parents, they should look to regulate the amount of time a teen gets to play. Encouraging

teens to get involved in sports would neutralize or eliminate any physical impairments.

The second argument I will engage is that video games can lead to “Brain damage” in

teens who play them. The author argues that “The frontal lobes of the brain are known for

executive functions such as attention, memory, and impulse control which are critical for

academic success”.[CITATION Chr16 \l 1033 ] I retort to this claim using data from a study

performed by Helena Pardina-Torner, Xavier Carbonell & Marcos Castejón cognitive and

behavioral psychologists at the University of Barcelona. The researchers preformed an

experiment on a sample of people in their 20s who play video games. This can be reasonably

extrapolated to assume a statistically significant proportion also played video games in their

teenage years, and people who do not play video games. Their research showed that video game

players display faster reaction speeds than those did not play[ CITATION Hel19 \l 1033 ]. Were

there to be damage as proposed by the authors’ argument the data should show that non video

game players

The Third and last point I contend with is the age-old argument that video games increase

aggressive behavior. The author reinforces his argument with a policy statement by the American

Academy of Pediatrics that in summery argues that teenagers who play video games display

more aggressive thoughts and behaviors. A critical problem commonly addressed by most

researchers is the lack of a causal link from video game consumption to aggressive or violent

actions. As highlighted by Pengjie WU a researcher at the University of Arizona “there is no

proven positive relationship between video game play and development of aggressive behavior.

Because the majority of studies stay focused on the short-term effects of video game play, long-

term results are currently not available in any of the studies”. [CITATION Pen18 \p 21 \l 1033 ]

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Persuasive Effect Project

The lack of long-term study into the effects of videogames on sample populations has really

hamstrung any attempt to establish any sort of link if any to violence and video game

consumption. Furthermore, with video games becoming an increasingly popular activity. Where

there a link between violent behavior and video games, there would be a significant increase of

overall violent crime over the past 30 years. According to a graph by Statista with data reported

by the FBI between the time period of 1990 and 2018 indicates a decrease in violent crime in the

United States [CITATION Sta19 \l 1033 ]. See appendix A. With crime statistics indicating an

overall reduction in violent crime the basis of the argument that video games stimulate violent

behavior doesn’t match the data.

Conclusion

I contend that the push to restrict teenagers’ access to video games based on the

arguments made by Mr. Rowan doesn’t match the evidence currently proffered by researchers.

The argument that the video game consumption leads to a sedentary lifestyle for teen putting

them at higher risk for health issues connected to said lifestyle misses the mark that any

sedentary lifestyle leads to those health issues and yet there isn’t legislation being pushed to

restrict that. They then argue for the degradation of brain tissues as a result of video game

consumption. Based off the data from an experiment preformed at the University of Barcelona

that proves to not be the case. Conversely people who play video games show a minor increase

in reflex times[ CITATION Hel19 \l 1033 ]. The authors final argument that I addressed centered

around the most used argument made by proponents of restricting video games. The argument

that violent video games can lead to more violent thoughts and behavior among

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Persuasive Effect Project

References

Pardina-Torner, H., Carbenell, X., & Castejon, M. (2019). A comparative analysis of the

processing speed between video game players and non-players. Barcelona: University of

Barcelona.

Rowan, C. (2018, October 28). movingtolearn.ca. Retrieved from Moving to Learn:

http://movingtolearn.ca/2018/ten-reasons-why-video-games-should-be-banned-for-children-

under-the-age-of-12

Statista. (2019, September). Statista.com. Retrieved from Statista:

https://www.statista.com/statistics/191219/reported-violent-crime-rate-in-the-usa-since-1990/

Wu, P. (2018). Violent Video Games and Aggressive Behavior: What, If Any, Is The

Relationship. University of Arizona .