Impact of video games on children under 18

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What are the legal, ethical and social issues in society when dealing with video games?

One of the critical technology issues that the society is grappling with in the 21st century is the use of video games, especially among minors (Wills, 2002). Video game is an electronic type of game that involves an interactive user interface used to create a visual feedback on devices such as computers and televisions (Cavalier, 2005). The use of digital media devices to promote video games has caused significant legal, ethical and social challenges to modern societies as social institutions and governments try to develop mechanisms of limiting the wasteful use of time in online and electronic media gaming, especially among the young population. According to Hodge et al (2016), a third of video game users are underage children. According to a research conducted by Hodge et al (2016), approximately 86% of adolescents aged between 13 and 14 years play violent video games. Furthermore, the violent content of video games tend to motivate the young people to play such games. 

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Some of the controversial video games’ content that raise legal and ethical issues in society include: nudity, use of guns, careless driving, privacy and confidentiality, addiction, and drug trafficking (Sicart, 2009; Kent, 2001; Capurro, 2005; and Hermida, 2005). Such content raise ethical issues concerning the behavior that such games encourage young people to participate in (Sicart, 2009). Research shows that the violent content of video games may cause psychological effects on teenagers (McKernan, 2013). As a result of rapid technological advancements and poor legal control of online content, the young people are increasingly engaging in video gaming, leading to significant negative effects (McKernan, 2013; and Kent, 2001). Teenagers also experience addiction and wasteful behaviour as they spend a lot of time and resources in playing video games (Buchanan and Ess, 2005). The purpose of this research is to explore the ethical, social and legal issues that underage people experience due to the use of video games.

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  1. Buchanan, E.A. and Ess, C., 2005. Introduction: The Ethics of E-games. International Review of Information Ethics, 4(12), 1-6.
  2. Capurro, R., 2005. Privacy: An Intercultural Perspective. Ethics and Information Technology, vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 37-47. 
  3. Cavalier, R., 2005. The Internet and Our Moral Lives. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
  4. Hermida, A., 2005. Parents ‘ignore game age ratings’. BBC News.
  5. Hodge, S., Taylor, J., and McAlaney, J. 2016. Restricted Content: Ethical Issues with Researching Minor’s Video Game Habits. Poole: Talbot Campus Fern Barrow.
  6. Kent, S.L., 2001. The ultimate history of video games: from Pong to Pokémon and beyond: the story behind the craze that touched our lives and changed the world. Roseville, CA: Prima publishing.
  7. Kocurek, C., 2012. The agony and the Exidy: a history of video game violence and the legacy of Death Race. Game Studies, 12(1), 12-24. 
  8. McKernan, B., 2013. The Morality of Play Video Game Coverage in the New York Times from 1980 to 2010. Games and Culture, vol. 8, no. 5, pp. 307-329. 
  9. Sicart, M., 2009. The Ethics of Computer Games. Cambridge, MS: The MIT Press.
  10. Wills, J., 2002. Digital Dinosaurs and Artificial Life: Exploring the Culture of Nature in Computer and Video Games. Cultural Values: Journal for Cultural Research, 6(4), 395–417.
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