The Influence of Video Games and How they Desensitize Young Children and Teens

By RoseAllure Louis
In Entertainment Senses
Mar 11th, 2013

Despite what video game developers have tried to argue, studies have consistently shown that those who play video games have violence tendencies straight after. The problem that we are facing however is not these violent tendencies, it is the fact that children are become desensitized to violence due to these games, and this is going to cause big problems for all of us. Let me explain.


How Video Games Desensitize Young Children and Teens

 Video Games

So what does desensitization mean? Well, it means that people are becoming 'used' to a situation. They no longer believe that it is wrong in their minds since to them it is so commonplace. Perhaps the main scenario which springs to mind here is the slave trade, people had become so desensitized to racism that they no longer saw anything wrong with it, and that of course is something that continued for many centuries.


So what does this mean to us? Well, there have been a number of studies which have linked a lack of empathy with playing violent games, and in some cases the people studied have indicated that they would use violence to solve situations. If we refer back to the slave trade for a little bit, back then, due to desensitization, the lack of empathy for somebody means that people were less likely to respond to them when they were needed the most.


When it comes to desensitization as a result of violent video games, a consequence could be that people may not rush to help somebody who is in the process of being subject to violence, which is actually a pretty scary thought when you consider how many people are actually playing these games each and every day, on the other hand, it could also be said that those who are desensitized to violence may be able to help out more as they will have the ability to remain calm about the situation. Further study is actually needed in this area.


There has been one major piece of research into the connection between desensitization and violent video games thus far. During this research, participants were asked to watch a movie. Their heart rate was then monitored during the movie. Next, they were asked to play either a violent video game or a non-violent one, again, heart rate monitored. They were then asked to watch the violent movie again, and heart rate monitored. The violent movie indicated that people had lower heartbeats if they had just played violent games, showing some degree of desensitization. However, it is worth noting that this study was carried out straight after the violent games, it is currently unknown how long 'desensitization' lasts after playing a game. For all we know, it could actually be temporary lasting no longer than an hour. More research does need to be carried out in this regard.


It is worth noting that the research into desensitization as a result of playing violent video games at the moment is fairly limited, and many researchers believe that more factors are at play than simply playing violent video games. However, with the intriguing results that we have obtained thus far, it is clear that there are going to be more studies in the future which help to give an indication on how games can affect young children and teens.