Influence of Violence on Children from Nurture vs. Nature Point of View

Influence of Violence on Children from Nurture vs. Nature Point of View

The environment determines a child’s growth and development process, and the learning process is determined by their parents/ caregivers. In their environment, whether at school, home, and other areas of the playground, children have access to different media platforms such as video games. Violent content in video games plays a major role in a child’s development. The mental trauma associated with violent content in video games is linked to depression. Also, the emotional trauma that PTSD and aggressive behavior mark victims of violence face. On the other hand, domestic violence that manifests in real-time violence in the household also affects the child’s emotional regulation, affecting their conception of events in their environment.


The weight and influence that environment have on the trajectory of a child’s growth and development are varied with the way a child is brought up. Nature essentially captures the place and environmental influences that play a significant role in growth and development. On the other hand, the way a child is conditioned to learn as they mature is captured by the concept of nurture. One of the phenomena that influence a child’s growth process is exposure to violent video games and violence from close members of the family (Immordino-Yang p.186). Violence in each form, whether in the home or through exposure to video games, affects the growth and development process. In this research paper, the influence of violence is covered with the assessment of mental trauma and emotional trauma, therefore determining which results in more harm in the development process of a child.

A considerable number of researchers concur that media forms such as video games played by children have negative effects given the exposure to violence levels displayed by the media. Again, more researchers support the view that the most popular genres of video games are associated with behavioral problems and challenges, given the levels of violence and adult themes that inform their content. Indeed, since the 1980s, video games have taken root essentially with individuals of several ages. The range of video games influences the behavior of children, especially the popular games where their content is laced with violence.

For instance, the video games encourage killings in scenarios that border wars, criminal behavior, and disregard for the rule of law and demeaning the role of authority figures. Equally, the content of violent-oriented video games also encourages sexual exploitation and different forms of violence against women, negative racial connotations, and the promotion of foul and derogatory language and stereotypes.

Mental Trauma

The influence of violence present in various forms of media in general, coupled with children’s exposure to violent video games, have negative effects on their mental health. Indeed, multiple researchers, policymakers, and health practitioners have been interested in the phenomenon. Certainly, organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics have highlighted the effect of violent video games on children’s growth and development process. The organization warns of the increased exposure to violent game content, which consequently affects the children in terms of furthering the levels of aggression and behavior in the shorter to longer term.

Studies link mental trauma with children becoming exposed to violent video game content. Other phenomena associated with mental trauma consist of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and exposure to violence in the house or where they stay with children serving as victims or witnesses. As such, the studies typically match the increased exposure to violent events, and violence, in general, is associated with elevated levels of depression among children as they grow up to become adults. Depression that is a product of mental trauma often results from a child or an individual exposure to community violence.


Moreover, as children spend more and more hours playing video games, they will likely be exposed to violent content from several genres or categories of video games. A study by Weaver et al. also linked video game violence among females to more depression for the ones who constantly engaged in the game. However, the researchers did not associate boys with the effects of depression. Furthermore, the researchers also uncovered that the students who often reported issues with video gaming, such as impulse-control attributes, were linked majorly to video gaming (Mustafaoğlu, Rüstem, et al.p.4). As such, the students who showed signs of problematic video gaming were three times more likely to have depression than those who never reported to the administration having problems with video gaming.

Other studies discovered that excessive gamers who play video games for more than ten hours a week reported poor mental health conditions compared to different categories of gamers considered moderate players.


In addition, violent video games have a relationship with the chances of depression. Depression majorly culminates in situations where a child or an individual lacks interest in engaging actively with peers, has diminished energy, deems self as a lack of worth, and in the process favors suicidal thoughts. According to research by Texas Medical Center, the relationship between depression emanating from a child’s mental disturbance due to constant exposure to video games for a substantial period each day (Hodent, p4). The studies from the University of Texas Health Sciences reinforced and confirmed that daily violent games in the house/environment have a direct correlation with increased hours of exposure to violent content.

According to the researchers, children’s growth and development are constrained, especially for children who play for more than two hours a day. Compared to other children who daily do not get exposed to video games, they do not show signs of depression.

Indeed, the results of depression were associated with males within the group. An estimated fifteen percent engaged in violent games for more than two hours for the day. Moreover, the researchers also confirmed that there is an association between depression and a child’s exposure to violent content from video games spread amongst all ethnic groups.

Emotional trauma

Violent video game content also plays a major role in influencing the psychological effect on a child’s development and growth. Emotional trauma is a condition of helplessness and lack of energy to engage with other peers. The feeling is often attributed to events and experiences that have a more devastating impact on a child’s psyche in the development journey. Indeed, the sphere of violent video game content is a new paradigm for exhibiting the signs and symptoms of emotional trauma. The core sphere of emotional trauma is the psychological concerns that manifest in forms such as elevated fear levels, increased irritability, anger, compulsions, guilt, shock and disbelief, and emotional numbing and detachment. Primarily, the violent content of video games is linked to drawbacks to a child’s development and growth process.

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms

A high frequency of exposure to violent content from video games influences a child’s development. Research studies point out that heavy exposure to violent content in video games leads children to view the world using a different lens. Typically, when a child is constantly exposed to damaging content and see the events in their homes, neighborhoods, and the world at large through various media, they, in turn, become filled with fear. In turn, some individuals compensate by initiating self-protective habits such as carrying guns,

Further, the children exposed to the violent content of video games in their households, schools, playgroups, and environment were recorded to exhibit high PTSD symptoms compared to non-players using the hyperarousal cluster. Heavy players tend to show irritability, anger outbursts such as being ‘super-alert’ or attentive, anxiety, being on guard, becoming easily startled, or unease. Indeed, according to researchers, several studies indicate that influences such as increased irritability and anger outbursts are associated with exposure to violent video games that also alters behavior toward aggressive habits (Belsky, p.244). Furthermore, some PTSD symptoms, such as a child being jumpy and continuously showing anger tendencies are consistent with heavy players who are exposed to violent content.


Aggressive behavior is also linked to a child’s exposure to violent content from certain genres of video games. According to the American Psychological Association, they posit that violent games in games played by children tend to encourage aggressive behavior. However, the association makes a distinction that violent games do not promote violent crime. However, the studies by Weber et al. present a different view (Shoshani, p.3). The researchers assessed the brain activity of individuals in gameplay to determine the extent of virtual violence and non-virtual violence.

The participants in the study consisted of 13 volunteers who played under a scan MRI for a mature-rated first shooter game. Attributes such as arousal, alongside subjective experiences, were determined in a questionnaire. Other elements such as brain activity, video display, and physiological responses were selected in the game. The outcome of the researchers was that after data analysis, they uncovered the relationship between virtual violence and the level of activity within the participant’s brains to be similar (Shoshani, p.3). The outcome is that virtual violence generates the same level of brain activity as compared to actions and aggressive behavior of individual participants.

Also, studies were carried out to assess the effect of mildly violent games directed at children and their further influence on aggression in children and university students, where 161 participants and 354 participants were engaged. Assignment to violent and non-violent children’s games was accorded to the participants. The older participants were assigned violent game genres directed at teenagers. Each participant was allowed to engage in the game for 20 minutes, followed by a “noise blast” game. Consequently, the study’s results showed that when a participant is briefly exposed to children’s violent games, there was an elevated level of aggressive attitude and behavior for both young adult participants and children. On the other hand, for older players, no considerable difference was observed in the effects of violent and teen games (Devilly p.33). In essence, the researchers pointed out that the findings suggest that the impact of violent content in the video game on participants is similar regardless of the graphic or gory nature of the game.

There are examples of genres of video games such as Call of Duty, a first-person shooting game, and Grand Theft Auto V, which are examples of controversial games that are essentially associated with portions of content being violent-oriented. Other studies point to the short-term connection between violent video games and individuals showing signs of aggression. For example, researchers also discovered that study participants were exposed to both violent and non-violent forms of games for a session of 20 minutes in 3 days and consequently given a competitive task. When the study participants became successful, they were permitted to blast their opponents using unpleasant noise (DeCamp,p.197). The results after playing the game showed that the participants who specialized in violent games were observed to typically blast their opponents within the sphere of the secondary task for a longer period. The outcome of behavior of individuals who had increased aggression.

 Nurture perspective

Apart from the effects of violence in video games, children are also exposed to violence in their homes, school, and other social places, which determines their growth and development path. Indeed, exposure to domestic violence has a significantly longer-term impact on the socio-emotional development progress of a child. A child’s brain and stress-oriented stimuli are affected by stimuli found in their environment, especially from their caregivers and parents. Domestic violence manifests itself in various forms (Li, p.4). According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, forms of home-based violence include exercising control over another partner, such as physical violence, sexual violence, and the threat of doing the same. In the US, 10-20% of children are majorly exposed to home violence.

Finding out which causes more harm

Research indicates that when a child is exposed to violence or adversarial behavior in the first 5 years of growth and development, it can result later on with massive lasting effects on their brain development. A child within the first five years of growth and development is a sensitive timeline where major primary caregivers play a crucial role in the learning trajectory and core development context. At the same time, children have both negative and positive experiences that tend to affect cognitive development and socio-emotional perspective. One of the major aspects of caregiver/parent interaction with the child is ensuring that there is a continuous secure relationship for the child to have a chance of cultivating success in their growth and development.

When a child is exposed to violent and negative behavior from the family, brothers, parents, and caregivers, it tends to affect greatly with more harm. When a child interacts with their caregiver or parent, major attributes influence the path of growth and development related to brain development. Firstly, the scope of sensitive co-regulation and relationship developed with the parent or caregiver in events where the stressors are involved aids the children in creating and developing emotional regulation. A stable and continuous relationship is favorable for the infant’s hormonal stress response that buffers the brain from various forms of stress.

When a child has sufficient emotional regulation due to a better upbringing devoid of home-based violence, the child becomes aware of their own arousal levels and how to react in their environment. During the formative stages of periods such as 6-18 months, the child often undergoes a period of rapid development and growth, especially since the child’s synaptic features in their bodies respond to emotions. Domestic violence presents negative emotions that may affect the pace and trajectory of their growth. Children should have self-regulation, which needs to be sufficiently developed to enable them to formulate mature responsibly without being affected by external pressures such as violence taking place in their environment. Thus, it means that until children reach a stage where they can have self-regulation, the caregivers essentially play a crucial role in the child’s development and maturation, consequently playing a major role in the development and serving as a source for external regulation for the child in regulatory behaviors.

Parents have a pivotal role in maintaining the child’s emotional regulatory features, which consequently helps the child regulate themselves efficiently. Domestic violence in any form triggers the dynamic stability of the child (Lloyd,p.4). When a parent or caregiver does not exhibit signs of upheaval, stress, or disturbance in the house, the child naturally grows and develops with the knowledge that learning and studying occur in their environment under favorable conditions. On the other hand, parents or caregivers should cultivate the necessary skills for learning and focus on controlling the children’s arousal level and curiosity. Also, more exposure to different aspects of violence distracts and destabilizes the growth and development potential of the child (Graham, p. 8). In essence, any child that is heavily aroused means the child majorly is not in the capacity to hone the right skills for learning in their home or external environment.

Therefore, parents/guardians are charged with the responsibility to reveal good positive behaviors that do not tolerate or encourage violence as distress or violence within the household culminates in more fear for the child. When a child does not feel safe in their immediate environment, they typically recoil, numb themselves, and hence cannot engage amicably with other players, peers, and objects in their environment. Children who experience disturbances and challenges associated with violence in their homes from parents have a difficult time in their journey for growth and development. Early experiences serve a critical role in the pace and trajectory of the child’s development.


Different elements influence the process and trajectory of a child’s development and growth in their surroundings and environment. The concepts of nurture and nature play a significant role in influencing the child’s growth trajectory. Three major attributes are assessed in relation to the children’s level of growth and development. Firstly, mental trauma is captured by how it affects the child’s scope of action. Within mental trauma, gender and depression are the major attributes that expound on how violence is captured.

On the other hand, the violence exhibited in video game genres also poses emotional trauma for children in several studies. Consequences of emotional violence consist of post-traumatic stress disorder and elevated levels of aggressiveness. Also, the nurture perspective highlights the caregiver’s value and importance in determining the child’s growth path. Further, the differences between the two approaches are compared where the nurture perspective plays a most important role in determining the trajectory and growth of the child.

Works Cited

Belsky, Jay. “Early-life adversity accelerates child and adolescent development.” Current Directions in Psychological Science 28.3 (2019): 241-246.

DeCamp, Whitney. “Parental influence on youth violent video game use.” Social science research 82 (2019): 195-203.

Devilly, Grant J., Riley P. O’Donohue, and Kathleen Brown. “Personality and frustration predict aggression and anger following violent media.” Psychology, Crime & Law (2021): 1-37.

Rodent, Celia. The psychology of video games. Routledge, 2020.

Immordino-Yang, Mary Helen, Linda Darling-Hammond, and Christina R. Krone. “Nurturing nature: How brain development is inherently social and emotional, and what this means for education.” Educational Psychologist 54.3 (2019): 185-204.

Li, JiaYu, Qian Du, and Xuemei Gao. “Adolescent aggression and violent video games: The role of moral disengagement and parental rearing patterns.” Children and Youth Services Review 118 (2020): 105370.

Lloyd, Michele. “Domestic violence and education: Examining the impact of domestic violence on young children, children, and young people and the potential role of schools.” Frontiers in Psychology 9 (2018): 2094.

Music, Graham. Nurturing natures: Attachment and children’s emotional, sociocultural and brain development. Routledge, 2016.

Mustafaoğlu, Rüstem, et al. “The negative effects of digital technology usage on children’s development and health.” Addict: the Turkish journal on addictions 5.2 (2018): 13-21.

Shoshani, Anat, Shahar Braverman, and Galya Meirow. “Video games and close relations: Attachment and empathy as predictors of children’s and adolescents’ video game social play and socio-emotional functioning.” Computers in Human Behavior 114 (2021): 106578.

Shoshani, Anat, Shahar Braverman, and Galya Meirow. “Video games and close relations: Attachment and empathy as predictors of children’s and adolescents’ video game social play and socio-emotional functioning.” Computers in Human Behavior 114 (2021): 106578.


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