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1
Impacts of Video Games on Children
Introduction
In the past, there were not any video games. The past generations were playing simple
games, and their parents were not afraid of the games that they were playing. However, people
have been developing games with more technology. In the past few years, manufacturers have
been making video games, but they are for both adults and children. These kinds of games have
both positive and negative attitudes, so they can be either helpful or harmful to us. Nowadays,
the companies that are making these video games are focusing on children because they are the
majority of the client base. In the recent years, the video game industry has scaled up to the tune
of surpassing both the music and movie industries in terms of sales. Currently, the most popular
video games amongst consumers are the violent video games, more specifically, those that
feature First-Person Shooters (FPS). The increase in popularity of video games has, to a large
extent, been as a result of the rapid technological advancements. The ability to play online has
also accounted for this popularity. Some of the video games have good contents, but most of
them contain violence. Are video games safe for children to use? Video games can affect
children’s behavior in particular because it is easy to get into their minds, so these kinds of games
should be rated by the industries and selected by the parents. Also, there should be limitations
and supervision to save them from any negative effects that they could get from these videos.
2
The start of video games:
Video games have gone through many changes since they appeared. According to
Anderson, et al. (2007), in the 1970s, video games appeared, but the violent games came of age
during the 1990s (5). In that time, violent video games became the most popular. Anderson, et al.
(2007) state, “Starting in the late 1980s video game producers experimented with what the public
would accept in video games. Gradually it became clear that games sold better if they contained
more violence” (5). After the games became popular and their makers sold record numbers, they
started making this kind of violent games more realistic.
The change in video games:
Violent video games started to become more realistic. Anderson, et al. (2007) claim, “In
1992, Wolfenstein 3D, the first major ‘first-person shooter’ game was released” (5). In this
game, the person who shoots would be as if he is inside the game. The games offer reality-like
graphics, with an infinite number of geometric shapes and shades of colors. So, after this game,
the producers added more and more polygons per a second to improve the graphics of the games.
Anderson, Gentile, et al. (2007) believe that Sony PlayStation processed 350,000 pg/s, and Sega
Dreamcast processed over 3 million pg/s. Then, PlayStation 2 processed 66 million pg/s, and
Xbox increased it to 125 million pg/s (6). PlayStation 3 increased the polygons to be 1 billion
pg/s (6). So, these types of video games became better in their graphics and more popular.
There is a general concern among researchers about the increasing number of young
children who are becoming exposed to violent video games. Hence, they become highly
susceptible to the negative effects of playing these violent games in comparison with their older
counterparts. Meanwhile, violent video games have also raised major concerns among medical
3
practitioners, parents, educators, as well as policymakers on the potentially harmful effects of
these games in terms of abnormal child development and behavior (Bond, 2011).
Statistics:
The video game industry has been termed as one of the fastest growing sectors of the
U.S. economy. In the year 2013, for instance, video game companies recorded sales with
revenues that exceeded $20 billion. On the other hand, worldwide sales of the same year topped
$90 billion (The Entertainment Software Association, 2018). In part, this was due to the
development and growth of the mobile gameplay as well as the release of the 8th generation game
consoles. According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) (2018), sixty-five percent
of American households have someone who plays video games regularly. At the same time,
sixty-seven percent of American households own a device that is used to play video games. A
2017 study by the association also found out that gamers aged 18 and older represented seventytwo percent of the video games playing population. Overall, however, the average gamer,
according to ESA (2018), is 35 years old.
By the time video games became popular, many parents came up with questions
including who are the people who play video games? What kinds of games do they play? What
do their parents think about it? There are some statistics that show video game usage among
American teens. Harvard Mental Health Letter (2010) believes that 97% of teenagers play video
games, and 75% of teenagers play racing and puzzle video games with little or no violence (3).
On the other hand, 66% of them play action video games; some of these contain violence. The
percentage of parents of young video game players who say that the games do not affect their
4
child one way or the other is 62% (3). These statistics show that many parents approve of video
games, and they do not have problems with that. However, 38% have some concerns about them.
Causes of playing video games:
Many people ask what causes children to play video games. What will the children get
from them? There are many causes that lead kids to play video games. Clark and Scott (2009)
say that video games let the kids have fun, and the kids can learn and discover many new things
while they play video games. They can make friends. Also, video games take the stress away and
keep the children away from the real world (59-86). These reasons are also mentioned by Kutner
and Olson (2010, 112):
•
It helps me make new friends.
•
It is just fun.
•
It helps me forget my problems.
•
It helps me get the anger out.
•
As a form of entertainment and fun
•
As challenging fun
•
As a way of killing boredom
•
Creates emotional satisfaction.
•
Escapism, some people get into gaming to forget about other life things
•
Due to difficulties making friends in real life
These are some causes that lead children to play video games. In fact, children might get both
negative and positive effects by playing video games.
5
Video games influence children behavior:
Video games can influence children’s behavior because it is easy to get into their minds
just by letting them love video games. Clark and Scott (2009) state, “game addictions are
behavioral addiction on steroids so to speak… the game’s designer actually did most of the work
that went to fabricating that illusion” (92). They flood the brain and body with a lot more
stimulation than other things. If the games have violence in them, the children will be influenced
more by their behavior. Harvard Medical School (2010) states, “violent video games as one of
many influence behavior”. These violent games can also increase the aggressive attitude. Gentile
(2003) states, “playing violent video games increase aggressive behavior. Studies measuring
aggressive behavior after playing violent video games have shown that violent behavior is
increased compared to playing nonviolent video games” (414). This kind of games can also
cause health problems.
Video games in general, including those that feature violence, have become a major
pastime activity for children and young adolescents. Consequently, it may provide a perfect
escape from other activities including social activities and school work with family and peers.
Violent video games have many negative impacts on children with the most common being
aggressiveness and other violent tendencies. Children will try to replicate what they have seen in
these video games as significant advancement in computer processing speeds have led to
graphics realism that makes the video games appear very realistic.
Video games cause health problems:
Violent video games could cause a lot of physical and mental problems. According to Harvard
Medical School (2010) because video games promote participation and enhance role-playing,
6
they may hurt. These games can be more harmful if they contain violence. Harvard Medical
School (2010) states, “exposure to aggressive behavior or violence in video games and other
media may, over time, desensitize youth by numbing them emotionally, cause nightmare and
sleep problems, impair school performance, and lead to aggressive behavior and bullying”.
Despite the fact that video games have negative sides, they also have positive sides.
According to Bond (2011), on their study on the effects of violent video games on
behavior, it was found that violent video games tended to teach children to be violent by
imparting those thoughts in them through repetition. The constant repetition of violent scenes
tends to create violent cognitive scripts n their brains. Thus, when presented with an ideal
situation, such as a disagreement or argument with their peers, they tend to unleash the violence
that has constantly been learning from the games.
from that, most of the violent video games are based on a reward system that upholds
and rewards success in violent missions. Exposure to violent video games tends to increase their
physiological arousals, their emotions, reactions, as well as decreases their positive social
behaviors. On the other hand, there are some positive effects.
Video games improve children’s skills and thinking:
Video games can improve children’s skills and thinking. Prensky (2006) states, “The way
you learn to do things depends mainly on the games control mechanism… a player is not going
to be doing much that physically resembles real life the learning is mostly mental” (65). They
can improve their mentality to take the right and fast decisions for the games. They also can help
in their real life. Prensky (2006) states, “The kind of decision that kids face in their games are not
about what to do and how to get past obstacles. They are also a decision about themselves
7
whether their skills are good enough, whether to go it alone or get help, whether to get more
practice. The decision we all face daily in life” (62). These games help the children not to make
lots of mistakes in life. Prensky (2006) states, “teaching physicians recognize that his having
played video games earlier in his life led him to make fewer mistakes than non-player” (77). So,
by rating and selecting video games, children will prevent worse things from happening.
A number of researchers have also argued that laboratory research does not fully
represent the social context of video game play. According to Bond (2011), the social aspects of
video games have changed immensely. For instance, there has been a major transition from
single player games to multiplayer and cooperation games. In most of the current games, more
than 60% of gamers will normally require playing with friends. Twenty-five percent of gamers
play with their spouses or family members. Thus, most of these video games, including those
with violent content and that once favored solitude are now promoted friendship and family
bonding.
Improved academic performance and stress releasing:
Students’ academic performance could be improved by video games. Hastings and Karas,
et al. (2009), declare “Our study found that playing certain types of games, specifically
educational games, may have positive outcomes, such as good school performance and fewer
attention problems” (647). It also can take the stress away and bring fun to the children. Within
the article “Colwell (2007) suggests that computer game play in adolescence may serve to meet
needs such as the need for a fun challenge, stress relief, and companionship” (Hastings and
Karas, et al., 2009, 647). Therefore, these video games could help in enhancing the academic
performance, having fun, and taking the stress out.
8
Rating and selecting video games:
Video games have positive and negative consequences for anyone who plays them, but
they will affect children more than adults because children will become addicted to the video
games. The industry of video games should rate their products in order to let the children have
fun and not get negative effects. ProCon.org (2015) declares, “Playing video games contribute to
the $21.53 billion domestic video games industry. More than the half of the 50 top selling video
games contain violence.” Therefore, if one assumes that children continue to play this kind of
video games, they would have an aggressive attitude toward people. According to Anderson and
Gentile (2007), bring positive video games to your kids and do not bring negative video games
(162). Thus, the parents have to choose good video games for their kids, so they will not affect
them negatively.
Prior research mostly dwelt on the negative effects of video games. At first, most studies
had shown a negative correlation between the amount of time spent playing video games and the
exam scores of students. For instance, a study by Wright (2011), found that the GPA and SAT
scores of children decreased as the time spent playing these games increased. So, there must be a
time management to avoid negative effects.
Age ratings are used by government and organizations to censor material that is deemed
inappropriate or to gross to be viewed by young children. There are a number of aspects that are
taken into account and used to rate these games. Some of these factors include levels of violence,
level of language profanity, sexual illustration as well as the depiction of drug abuse. Just as
there are laws on the restriction on factors like drinking, smoking, and driving, the present age
limits of video games are usually meant to protect vulnerable children who might misinterpret
9
the aspects of video games besides giving the general public a tool that they can use to make
informed decisions regarding their game purchases.
Unlike underage smoking and drinking which are frowned upon in many countries, a lot
of studies have depicted a higher disregard for the ratings of video games. According to Bond
(2011), about ninety percent of pre-teenagers and adolescents recorded that their parents never
checked the rating of video games before letting them purchase or rent them.
What parents can do:
There are some steps that parents should do to prevent the negative sides. Anderson,
Gentile, et al. (2007) state, “parents also can be advised not to use video games as a reward,
punishment, or babysitter for their children. Further, parents should be encouraged to provide
alternative forms of entertainment for their children, including playing outside, reading, or
playing board games as a family (Johnson, 1996)” (647). Also, they could do other things that
help the children. Harvard Mental Health Letter (2010) states:
Parents can protect their children from potential harm video games by following a few
commonsense strategies-particularly if they are concerned that their children might be
vulnerable to the effects of violent content. These simple precautions may help:
•
Check the ESRB rating to better understand what type of content a video game
has.
•
Play video games with children to better understand the content, and how children
react (3).
10
Parents also have to not put video games in children’s rooms, and they must put limitations if
they do not want any negative effects to appear in their children. Harvard Mental Health Letter
(2010) also states:
•
Place video consoles and computers in common areas of homes, rather than in
children’s bedrooms.
•
Set limits on the number of time youths can play these games. The AAP
recommends two hours or less of total screen time per day, including television,
computers, and video games (3).
So, these kinds of solutions will prevent the children from playing video games as much as
possible.
Summary of the sub-questions:
Video games can cause many types of players to play them. Also, they affect many things
inside or outside us. They can influence the behavior of anybody, but particularly children
because they are the majority who play video games, and it is easy to trick them. Video games
can have both negative and positive attitudes on the person. It can lead a person to deal with
people in a terrible way, or it can lead one to communicate in a better way. Video games can
cause health problems, or they can improve a person’s thinking and skills. They also can
improve academic performance. So, both the industries and the parents can prevent addiction by
rating the video games and selecting the types that they buy. Parents also could protect their
children by doing some steps.
11
Conclusion
In conclusion, video games are something that companies make for people to have fun,
but everything has consequences. Some video games could have long-term positive effects while
most of them could have long-term harmful effects. It is not hard to get to the children’s brains
and change their attitudes from the video games; therefore, the industries who are making these
video games have to put ratings on the games to know what is good for children. Also, the
parents should select what is good for their children to play with and put limitations and
supervision. If video games’ makers created the ratings and parents selected them and did the
solutions, video games would be safer for children. Kids will have fun, and the video games will
not affect them in a negative way.
12
References
Anderson, C.A., D, Gentile, D.A., & Buckley, K.E. (2007). Violent video game effects on
children and adolescents. New York: Oxford University Press.
Clark, N., & Scott, P. S. (2009). Game addiction: The experience and the effect. Jefferson, NC:
McFarland
Gentile, D, A. (2003). Media violence and children: A complete guide for parents and
professionals. Westport, CT: Praeger.
Hastings, E. C., Karas, T. L., et al. (2009). Young children’s video/computer game use: relations
with school performance and behavior. Issues in mental health nursing, 30(10), 638-649.
Harvard Mental Health. (2010). Violent video games and young people. Harvard Mental Health
Letter, 27(4), 1-4.
Harvard Medical School. (2010). Violent video games and young people. Retrieved November
30, 2015, from
http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/harvard_mwntal_health_letter/210/october.
Kutner, L., & Olson, C. (2010). Grand Theft Childhood: The surprising truth about violent video
games* *and what parents can do. NYC: Simon & Schuster
Prensky, M. (2006). “Don’t Bother Me Mom- I’m Learning!” St. Paul, MN: Paragon House.
Procon.org (2015). Violent Video Games. Do video games contribute to youth violence?
Retrieved November 30, 2015, from http://www.videogames.procon.org/.
13
The Entertainment Software Association. (2018). Essential Facts about the Computer and Video
Game Industry Retrieved from http://www.theesa.com/about-esa/essential-factscomputer-video-game-industry/
Bond, D. (2011). The Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggressive Behavior and the
Relationship to School Shootings.
Wright, J. (2011). The effects of video game play on academic performance. Modern
Psychological Studies, 17(1), 6.

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