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Capstone Project: Violent Video Games Affect Teenagers and Their Learning Capacity

I. Introduction

Engaging with violent video games can make some teenagers more unreceptive, particularly

those who are less friendly, less careful and easily angered. But for some, it may offer

opportunities to learn new skills and improve social networking.

In a special edition of the journal Review of General Psychology, published in June 2010 by

the American Psychological Association, researchers saw numerous studies that inspected the

potential uses of video games as a way to improve visual/spatial skills, as a health aid to help

control diabetes or pain and as a tool to match psychotherapy. One study scrutinized the adverse

effects of violent video games on some people.

"Much of the attention to video game research has been negative, focusing on potential harm

related to addiction, aggression and lowered school performance," said Christopher J.

Ferguson, PhD, of Texas A&M International University and guest editor of the issue. "Recent

research has shown that as video games have become more popular, children in the United

States and Europe are having fewer behavior problems, are less violent and score better on

standardized tests. Violent video games have not created the generation of problem youth so

often feared."

In contrast, one study in the special issue shows that video game violence can increase

aggression in some individuals, depending on their personalities.

As Senior High School student in the peak of his teenage years and belonging to the generation

where violent games are widespread source of leisure and recreation, it would be very timely

and relevant for the project proponent to look onto this matter. This Capstone Project Paper

aims to determine the possible effects of violent games to teenagers specifically with their

learning capacities.

II. Description of the Problem

A growing body of evidence shows that video gaming can affect the brain and, furthermore,

cause changes in many regions of the brain. Scientists and researchers have recently collected

and summarized results from different studies to determine how video games can influence our

brains and behaviors.

"Games have sometimes been praised or demonized, often without real data backing up those

claims. Moreover, gaming is a popular activity, so everyone seems to have strong opinions on

the topic." (Palaus, 2015). Results of the studies indicate that playing video games not only

changes how our brains perform but also their structure.

For example, video game use is known to affect attention. The studies included in the review

show that video game players display improvements in several types of attention, including

sustained attention and selective attention. Furthermore, the regions of the brain that play a role

in attention are more efficient in gamers compared with non-gamers, and they require less

activation to stay focused on demanding tasks.

In gaming addicts, there are functional and structural alterations in the neural reward system -

a group of structures associated with feeling pleasure, learning, and motivation. Exposing video

game addicts to game-related cues that cause cravings, and monitoring their brain responses,

highlighted these changes - changes that are also seen in other addictive disorders.

Engaging in violent games has affected a person in different aspects, however, as student, the

proponent deems it necessary to look into the effects of these violent games on the learning

capacity of students within their range as teenagers.

III. Literature Review

Much of the research done on video game effects has focused on the effects of violent video

games on aggression. Findings from experimental studies, correlational studies, longitudinal

studies, as well as a number of meta-analyses confirm that violent video game play can increase

aggressive cognitions, affect, and behavior both in immediate and long-term contexts (e.g.,

Anderson & Dill, 2000; Anderson, Gentile, & Buckley, 2007; Anderson et al., 2010). More

recent research has also shown that violent video game play leads to desensitization to violence

(Bartholow, Bushman, & Sestir, 2005), diminished empathy, and a lower likelihood of

prosocial behavior (Bushman & Anderson, 2009).

Experimental studies have been used to demonstrate causal relationships between violent video

game play and aggression in the short-term. Laboratory experiments have shown that even a

brief episode of violent video game play leads to more aggressive thoughts (e.g., Anderson &

Dill, 2000), hostile affect (e.g., Carnagey & Anderson, 2005) and an increased likelihood of

aggressive behavior (e.g., Konijn, Bijvank and Bushman, 2007). Correlational studies make it

possible to examine associations between violent video game exposure and real-world
aggression. Findings from correlational studies show that violent video game effects found in

the laboratory generalize to real-life situations. For example, greater amounts of violent video

game play in real life are significantly associated with more positive attitudes toward violence

(e.g., Funk et al., 2004), higher trait hostility (e.g., Anderson, Gentile, & Buckley, 2007), and

an increased likelihood of involvement in physical fights (e.g., Gentile, Lynch, Linder, &

Walsh, 2004). Longitudinal studies can be used to determine long-term relations between

violent video game play and aggression. For example, one study tracked a sample of

adolescents over a period of two years and showed violent video game play to be a significant

predictor of later violence and delinquency, even after controlling for relevant covariates (Hopf,

Huber, & Weib, 2008).

Each research design contributes to the study of video game effects on aggression and strong

causal conclusions depend on consistent results across all types of designs (Abelson, 1995;

Swing & Anderson, 2010). Different types of research designs make different methodological

assumptions, so when a result is repeatedly shown using different designs, we can be confident

that it is not just a byproduct of methodological flaws. Testing a hypothesis using different

methodologies and in different contexts allows researchers to triangulate, with the hope of

identifying a true causal factor (Anderson, 1989), Scientific confidence can be increased by

aggregating results from different studies using meta-analytic techniques.

The most comprehensive meta-analysis of violent video game effects on aggression and related

variables to date was conducted by Anderson and colleagues (2010). This meta-analytic review

included 136 research papers with 381 effect size estimates involving more than 130,000

participants. The sample consisted of both published and unpublished studies and included

studies from both Eastern and Western cultures. Main findings from this meta-analysis based
on the subsample of studies that met all the best practices criteria (the "best raw" sample in

Anderson et al., 2010). Playing violent video games was shown to increase the likelihood of

physically aggressive behavior, aggressive thinking, aggressive affect, and physiological

arousal. Violent video game exposure was also shown result in desensitization/low empathy

and a decreased likelihood of prosocial behavior. Significant effects of violent video games on

all six outcomes were found both for men and for women and for samples from both Eastern

and Western cultures. Importantly, the pattern of results for different outcomes was consistent

across all three types of research designs (experimental, cross-sectional, and longitudinal).

IV. Description of the Project

The project specifically intends to identify how the violent games affect the learning capacity

of teenagers. Teenagers according to relevant studies were identified as the group with most

engagement to violent games, with this, the proponent find it necessary to float the project to

this age group.

This project will be done in 3 Phases (Pre-Execution, Execution, and Post Execution). The

different activities to be done are discussed in detail through the activities plan presented below.

Activity Output Person/s Involved Timeline


Problem Identification and

Concept Paper Proponent 2 weeks

Capstone Project Proponent

Project Proposal Making 1 month
Proposal Project Adviser

Literature and
Review of related literature,
Studies Review Proponent
and studies

Interview of concerned
questionnaires and
parties and data gathering Proponent
data for assessment 3 months
and evaluation

Consolidation of

conclusions, findings, Proponent

Final Manuscript
recommendations, and Project Adviser



Crafting of Plan of Action

based on the results and Action Plan 1 week
Project Adviser

Execution of the Plan of Implemented Proponent

Action Action Plan Project Adviser


Monitoring and Evaluation Monitoring and Proponent TBA

Evaluation forms
V. References

Abelson, R. P. (1995). Statistics as principled argument. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Anderson, C. A., Gentile, D. A., & Buckley, K. E. (2007). Violent video game effects on children and

adolescents: Theory, research, and public policy. NewYork, NY: Oxford University Press.

Anderson, C. A., Shibuya, A., Ihori, N., Swing, E. L., Bushman, B. J., Sakamoto, A., & Saleem, M. (2010).

Violent video game effects on aggression, empathy, and prosocial behavior in Eastern and Western

countries. Psychological Bulletin, 136,151-173.

Anderson, C. A., & Dill, K. E. (2000). Video games and aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behavior in the

laboratory and in life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 772-790.

Bartholow, B. D., Bushman, B. J., & Sestir, M. A. (2005). Chronic violent video game exposure and

desensitization to violence: Behavioral and event-related brain potential data. Journal of Experimental

Social Psychology, 42, 283-290.

Bushman, B. J., & Anderson, C. A. (2009). Comfortably numb: Desensitizing effects of violent media on

helping others. Psychological Science, 20, 273-277

Carnagey, N. L., & Anderson, C.A. (2005). The effects of reward and punishment in violent video games

on aggressive affect, cognition, and behavior. Psychological Science, 16, 882-889.

Funk, J. B., Baldacci, H. B., Pasold, T., 8r Baumgardner, J. (2004). Violence exposure in real-life, video

games, television, movies, and the internet: is there desensitization?. Journal of Adolescence, 27(1), 23-39
Gentile, D. A., Lynch, P. J., Linder, J. R., & Walsh, D. A. (2004). The effects of violent video game habits

on adolescent aggressive attitudes and behaviors. Journal of Adolescence, 27, 5-22

Hopf, W H., Huber, G. L., & Weib, R. H. (2008). Media violence and youth violence: A 2 year longitudinal

study. Journal of Media Psychology: Theories, Methods and Applications, 20,79-96

Konijn, E. A., Bijvank, N. M., & Bushman, B. J. (2007). I wish I were a warrior: The role of wishful

identification in effects of violent video games on aggression in adolescent boys. Developmental

Psychology, 43, 1038-1044

Swing, E. L., & Anderson, C. A. (2010). Media violence and the development of aggressive behavior. In

M. DeLisi & K. M. Beaver (Eds.) Criminological theory: A life-course approach. (pp. 87-108). Sudbury,

MA: Jones and Bartlett.