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Violence, Children and Video Games

Violence, Children and Video Games

Vio­lent video games and movies cause vio­lent behav­ior!”  I’ve heard this say­ing thrown around a lot lately and I’ve said noth­ing because  I find that state­ment une­d­u­cated but as this has been tossed around a lot in main­stream media lately I thought I would add my two cents and yes I love to chal­lenge peo­ples beliefs.

To give you a lit­tle back­ground on myself for those of you who don’t know my hob­bies.  I’ve played video games *of all types from Chess, Mario to Duke Nukem* since I was eight or nine years old.  Once I hit 8th grade I started play­ing numer­ous mul­ti­player games includ­ing Project Vis­i­tor, Counter-Strike, Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II, Half-Life, Team Fortress, etc.  Most of which would be con­sid­ered vio­lent games.  I played them so much *10 – 12 hours a day* on a reg­u­lar basis that I started play­ing some of the com­pet­i­tively and semi-professionally.  I’ve also been deeply involved in the gam­ing com­mu­nity and mod­ding com­mu­ni­ties since before I can remem­ber.  I’ve played and beat almost every major game from Myst to Bat­tle­field 3.   So in short my back­ground in the gam­ing indus­try has been… lengthy.  So given this child­hood steeped in epic vio­lence how would you expect me to turn out?  Main­stream media would have you believe that I would grow up to be a pimp and smack hoes on the street while mow­ing down inno­cent pedes­tri­ans with my auto­matic weapons.  What am I really though?  I’m a Sys­tem Archi­tect for a major med­ical hard­ware and soft­ware man­u­fac­ture and in my spare time *when I have it* I still play games and work on my cars.  I’m also mar­ried and live in the mid­dle of sub­ur­bia.   So how did I turn out this way?

The “video games and movies are the prob­lem” response is as about as silly as the “NRA kills chil­dren” state­ment.  It has no basis in real­ity.  Just like gun own­ers the major­ity com­pet­i­tive video game play­ers are not sui­ci­dal mani­acs bent on destroy­ing the world.  There was a study done awhile back that said “[C]ompetitive video game play was cor­re­lated mod­er­ately pos­i­tively with aggres­sion. In con­trast, the cor­re­la­tions between non­com­pet­i­tive video game play and aggres­sion were small and mostly neg­a­tive. Com­pet­i­tive gam­bling also was cor­re­lated mod­er­ately pos­i­tively with aggres­sion, whereas the cor­re­la­tions between non-competitive gam­bling and aggres­sion were small and pos­i­tive.” So let’s take a look at what this says… if you are play­ing a com­pet­i­tive game you’re more likely to be aggres­sive.  This has noth­ing to do with the vio­lent con­tent but it has every­thing to do with the com­pe­ti­tion.  When you are com­pet­i­tive you’re going to be more aggressive.

But Brad I know some­one who plays video games 16 hours a day, he’s got no social life and he gets aggres­sive and vio­lent when you try to take him away from it!  You have no idea what you’re talk­ing about!”  Hmmm but is that the vio­lent video games he’s play­ing or the non-ones for that mat­ter?  Or is it the addic­tion to those games that causes the aggres­sion.  I’d chal­lenge every­one to look at many forms of addic­tion that do cause this same behav­ior such as sports, alco­hol, soda, cof­fee, food, etc.

So by that logic we should just let lit­tle chil­dren play Grand Theft Auto and let them watch vio­lent movies!”  No… quite the con­trary.  I don’t believe chil­dren need these types of things in their lives as they should be spend­ing time learn­ing and play­ing out­side.   While I don’t believe vio­lent images are the direct cause of vio­lence in adults I do believe they have a small impres­sion on lit­tle chil­dren, espe­cially those that don’t receive proper par­ent­ing on what is real and what is not.  Or have par­ents who prop­erly man­age their time.

That is the real prob­lem though isn’t it?  Just like the vio­lence in our soci­ety.  We like to blame the gun, the game, the movies, the drugs, every­thing but our­selves.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve got to get in line to pur­chase a game when I’ve seen a mother come up with her five year old child with a copy of Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty and have the store clerk ask her “Ma’am you know this game is rated Mature right” and she says some­thing like “yeah I really don’t care”.   If par­ents don’t care what their chil­dren watch then they prob­a­bly don’t care what they are doing either.

See as soci­ety we like the blame the symp­tom and not tar­get the prob­lem.  We want an easy fix, we want to think that if we donate so much money here, or go to church this many times, or leg­is­late this or leg­is­late that the prob­lems will go away but that’s just tar­get­ing the symp­toms not the problem.

Hav­ing said all that are there some peo­ple who are influ­enced by vio­lent media? Of course there are but they are a small minor­ity com­pared to the vast major­ity of us who aren’t.  The choice to watch that media or play those games is theirs to make not yours or mine *unless they are your children*.



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