Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- A recent study conducted in Saudi Arabia has highlighted the dangerous influence of video games on the Kngdom’s youths.
The study that was carried out by a group of educationists in conjunction with specialised departments concerned with the negative effects of video games focused on a selected group of youngsters in a juvenile detention centre in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. The study revealed that 90% of the juveniles were affected negatively by video games and sought to imitate these games in reality.
The results of the study affirmed that society is facing a critical issue as the danger lies in the fact that video games are interactive. The research highlighted that youngsters often fail to distinguish between virtual reality and real life as soon as the youth is exposed to the on-screen violence of these games and the evil scenarios in which the player is placed in these games for long hours combating security forces, destroying state property or violating people in various ways.
The study added that voluntary organisations, groups and anti-lobbies in the United States, the European Union and the Asian industrial nations have set out to counter video-game violence and age restrictions have been set in place in countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, Brazil and the EU. However Arab countries have failed to implement any restrictions regarding accessibility for youngsters to such software.
The report stated, “Among the paradoxes that add to the suffering in our country is the illegal copying and distribution of software and the complete absence of official censorship. Today our children can buy these games for less than 6 Saudi Riyals [$1.6 US] even though the original games are sold in other countries for anywhere between 100 and 200 Saudi Riyals [$27 – $53 US] making them unaffordable to children.”
The study also indicated that the nature of the problem lies in the software that is available on the local market that fails to develop youngsters’ mental abilities and skills. Furthermore, they do not encourage youths to adopt strong values and noble customs and only time is wasted on such games. They also strip children of their innocence and depend on the concept of ‘survival of the fittest’ by rebelling against society as a whole through theft, kidnapping, murder and the like in order to score more points.
The study looked at the way in which these games encourage rebellious behaviour for example by teaching the young how to evade state security forces and to confront them violently, and how to kill, kidnap and execute violent assassinations against leaders, scientists and state officials in general. Furthermore, these games feature the destruction of state-owned property using highly explosive bombs or even destroying a whole city with a nuclear bomb. Through such violence and destruction, the player gains more points.
The recent study underlined the dangers of these games that represent a virtual world that according to a child’s mentality could be applied [to reality]. Furthermore, the danger lies in the fact that such games are interactive in that the more evil acts the player commits the more successful the player.