Gender Socialization of Children Term Paper

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role of video games in gender socialization of children growing up. For example, what would parents buy their 9-year-old son on his birthday and would it be different if it was a daughter. Also the effects of video games on the age groups that play them."

For the past four decades video games have been a top seller in the electronic market. Millions of parents line up each year to purchase the latest and greatest video games for their children. They come in all forms, including violence, games, activities, sports and others. The video game advent came on the heels of the women's movement getting up to speed, which has made it difficult to gauge the exact gender impact the games have had since they hit the market. Now, four decades later video games are being blamed for everything from murder to failing out of school with little attention to how they impact specific genders. It is important to know what the affect of video games is on the gender socialization of children as they are growing up for several reasons. The marketing departments will have a better idea on how to target the genders for purchase and the educators, therapists and parents who work with children can have some idea on how the use of video games may be impacting the children. Gender differences have been discovered in other areas of life and it stands to reason there may be a gender issue in the socialization of children when it comes to the video game market. It is also important to understand the effect that video games have on the age groups that play them. This research proposal will attempt to address these issues and discover what, if any impact the current video game industry is having on the socialization of the genders.

There has been concern about the effect of video games on children's behavior almost since their inception. As early as 1982, the Surgeon General of the United States, C. Everett Koop, stated that "children are into the games, body and soul -- everything is zapping the enemy" (Vessey, 2000)."

Social content presented in a violent context can affect children's attitudes toward sexual stereotypes. For example, females are often portrayed as more passive and in need of rescuing. Over 20% of the most popular games actually include violence against women (Dietz, 1998). Despite these findings, proponents of games frequently espouse the belief that games help youth deal with pent-up feelings of aggression and hostility. Others justify the games that contain violence as prosocial by seeing violence as an acceptable method for defending good from evil (Vessey, 2000)."

Children however, continue to see the playing of video games as socially desirable and acceptable.

Initial research indicates a need for parents to monitor the type of video games that their children are playing. Further research is needed to determine how games affect each gender and how it may contribute to the actions of each gender.

Literature Review

In the search for answers regarding violence and video games there have been many studies conducted over the years. One study measured the presentation of violence and its context in the games that were popular.

This particular study looked at males that were eight to 18 years old and their video game playing habits. The research discovered that boys who were between the ages averaged 41 minutes a day sitting in front of and playing video games. The study also measured how many minutes per day the girls averaged playing video games and came up with a mean number of 12 minutes (Smith, 2003). This research is important to the proposed study because it prompts the question of whether it is the type of game played by girls or the length of time that trigger the actions that may be undertaken because of the games. It also asks the question why girls play a reduced number of minutes as compared to boys. Is it marketing? Is it the type of games that are available to buy? Is it the differences biologically between the genders (Smith, 2003)?

Several studies have examined the impact that gaming has on individuals' aggressive tendencies. Some of the research conducted in the 1980s found a relationship between game playing and aggression, while other studies did not. However, the games 15 years ago were much less violent in nature than are the killing games available in today's market (e.g., Mortal Kombat, Wolfenstein 3D). Consistent with this thinking, more recent evidence suggests a positive relationship between playing interactive violent media and aggressive tendencies, especially when subjects are male, characteristically aggressive, and prefer violent gaming content (Smith, 2003)."

According to this study there are several earlier studies indicating a causal relationship between violent video games and violence in life.

Two recent meta-analyses reveal that playing violent video games is significantly and positively associated with aggressive behavior (Smith, 2003)."

To date, only three published studies have content analyzed violence in video games. Braun and Giroux (1989) examined the amount of violence in arcade games. To this end, 21 of the most popular video arcade games among adolescents were selected and coded for the presence of aggression. Violence was defined as the act of destroying individuals or objects or the ingestion of individuals (p. 95). The results showed that 71% of all the games featured violence and such acts were most likely to be found in war, sports, ingestion, and crime games. Although these findings are informative, they do not reveal the amount of violence in home gaming systems. To fill this void, Dietz (1998) assessed the amount of violence in 33 popular Nintendo and Sega Genesis video games. The findings show that 79% of all the home video games featured aggression. Further, 21% of the games featured some type of violence against women (Smith, 2003)."

This is very important information in the proposed study because it may point to the reason girls are not as drawn to the games as boys are. It also hints at a tendency in the socialization process to guide boys to violence and violence against females. It may also indicate that the current available video games guide women to become passive and subdued and accepting of male violence toward them as a socialization characteristic.

Another study chose to focus on the female perception of video games and their uses in an educational setting (Anderson, 2000).

According to Upitis (1998), it is clear that not all students respond in the same way to the challenge that the computer-based technologies pose. When assessing the way in which students use computers, the most easily identifiable factor determining computer-related attitudes and usage is gender. Research findings indicate that 'boys and girls often approach electronic games and technology in different ways and, further, that girls are often disenfranchised when it comes to computer use, even when they express interest in using computers, (Upitis 1998, p. 295). The results of a 1997 study that collated the responses of 455 twelve- to fourteen-year-olds showed that both before and after a course of instruction, boys showed significantly more positive attitudes to computers in all four areas tested: enjoyment of computers, relevance of computers, computer anxiety, and estimation of their own competency (Volman 1998). Although the study showed that girls were able to achieve a similar knowledge regarding computers, the difference in enjoyment of computers between the sexes widened. The girls became further alienated from computers through their interactions with the media within a classroom setting (Anderson, 2000)."

This information is valuable to the study proposal at hand because it provides a blueprint of some of the issues that may come into play with the genders and whether they are attracted to video games and if so how those games affect their life actions.

The study asked girls questions to determine their attitude about video games and concluded that individual differences more than gender decided what games the girls preferred.

The results show that for the sample studied, individual differences outweighed gender as a determinant of game enjoyment. From the observations recorded, no evidence was elicited to suggest any factors intrinsic to the format of video games that tend to alienate females. Further, all participants in the study exhibited levels of skill and were interested in the games (Anderson, 2000)."

The question now becomes how the video games impact the socialization of children as they grow up as studies have already concluded that both genders enjoy the games.


This proposal is for a research study that expects to find that video games are geared more for males than for females. The survey will attempt to find out if this is true and if so what drives it to be the case.

To this it will also study whether they impact the socialization of children growing up by producing males who want to be aggressive toward females and females who become subdued and accepting of aggression from their male counterparts.

Data and Methods

The method that…[continue]

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