One of the most popular games in 2008 for boys and girls was Grand Theft Auto, an ultra violent game that has been given a mature rating by the ESRB for blood and gore, intense violence, strong language, strong sexual content, and use of drugs. Some organizations such as the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) believe that video games with violent themes in them can desensitize and cause kids to behave violently in real life. If this is true, then wouldn’t kids be running rampant in the streets, killing cops and stealing cars daily? The media suggests that there is a correlation between violence in video games and violent behavior in kids, however I, being a video game enthusiast myself, do not believe that violence in video games directly causes kids to behave violently.
Many of the arguments against video games are hypocritical, even alternative forms of entertainment use violence, “But several parent concern groups maintain that the violent content of video games is unsuitable for young people, and children should be encouraged to try more traditional means of entertainment, like the plays of Shakespeare (eg teen murder/suicide drama Romeo and Juliet, or mass family slaughter epic Hamlet) or the cinema, where nothing violent is ever shown.” If we look at the statistics of video game sales vs. violent behavior in America, as video game sales has steadily rose from 1996, total violent crimes has decreased. If video games truly caused violence, then wouldn’t we see violent crime rise with sales?
I cannot speak for parents, seeing as I am only a kid myself, but I think it would be beneficial to show our kids who the bad guys are, who the good guys are, and teach them how to tell which is which. I have been playing video games for as long as I can remember and if anything they have given me a better concept between right and wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying 6 year olds should be playing Grand Theft Auto, but the fact is that violence has been around forever, from Hansel and Gretel to Looney Tunes. So don’t try to hide your kids from violence, help them to understand and respect the consequences of it.
Update: November 14, 2013
Thank you to everyone who viewed and commented on my blog. I really enjoyed reading and responding to the comments. For the most part, my view on video games hasn't changed; I still do not think that video games create killers. However, this experience has shown me a different perspective on the topic of video games. Even though I don't think video games are evil, I do acknowledge that video games in excess are not healthy, like most things. Those who play video games should pay attention on the amount of time they spend playing every day. Over the period of time that I spent writing this blog, the time I spent gaming became minimal to non-existent, and now I do notice a difference in how I feel on a day to day basis. Not to say I was on the brink of snapping, but less time with a controller in my hands has made a difference. I still love video games, but too much of a good thing is a bad thing. As far as selling mature games to little kids, I realize that this is a problem. Kids not even tall enough to look over the counter should not be playing games like Grand Theft Auto or Saints Row. Maybe this starts with the parents or maybe this starts with the video game retailers, but there does need to be stricter rules for young kids playing mature games. This blog has been fun to write and I learned a lot from the research that went into it.