Thursday, May 8, 2014

Violent Video Games May End Lives



Graphic Image by Jimmy Turrell
For many years now, scientist have been trying to answer the question almost no one seems to ask. How do violent video games increase the chance of violence in adults, and almost more importantly, in children. Are we raising a generation of mass murderers? Are my friends going to grow up believing that extreme violence and death is normal and okay? Or are video games completely harmless, and just the cause of pointless fuss? Although the answer is still unclear, there are certainly links. Studies connect criminal activity with the the playing of these extremely violent video games, and show higher levels of aggression in children who play them (Pattison). The generation of children raised on these intensely savage video games has yet to fully grow up, but when they do, maybe the world should be worried. Frightening connections have been made between dangerous criminal activity and brutal games such as GTA, a game in which players (kids like the friends I see every day in school) are encouraged to steal cars, shoot homeless people, and beat prostitutes to death (Benedict). Violent video games increase children’s chances of becoming aggressive, and may even inspire some of our darker mass shootings.

According to studies done at the University of Michigan, here is an undeniable link between violent childhood behavior and the amount of time these children spend playing video games. Those who played games in categories such as “shooting,” “war” or “fighting action” were found to have much more aggressive tendencies and behaviors such as hitting, kicking, angry outbursts, and tantrums on the playground (Harding). Knowing how children are, this study makes complete sense. The younger the child, the more impressionable they are, and if they see that it is okay and acceptable to hurt people on a screen in their house, it makes sense that they would be more likely to harm their peers (McKinley). The violence does not end there. Aggressive children make aggressive adults, and when these kids grow up they gain the ability to buy guns. What happens when an angry adult with violent tendencies gets his hands on an automatic weapon? There is a shooting like the one demonstrated at Columbine High School or the movie theater in Colorado. A study conducted at Iowa University links these recent tragedies to dark fantasies which the shooters may have acquired playing their savage video games such as the popular GTA (Benedict).

Many people do not give these connections a second thought, or are simply unaware that they exist. Others know, and pass them off as silly, saying that there is not enough evidence to support the ideas. The perspective that video games are not a reason for childhood aggression is firmly backed by the companies that create the games (Procon.org). They insist that without sufficient evidence, nothing can or should be done. These companies are quick to pin the blame on bad parenting, troubling pasts or even gun companies, saying that without hard evidence no one can point the finger at video games. It is true, we have not yet really seen what will happen when a generation grows up on the blood and gore of GTA. Many of my friends constantly reference these games, and I find it rather disturbing when lunch conversation is filled with the details of all the virtual people my friends have murdered in games such as GTA. Today, 90 percent of children in the USA between the ages of eight and sixteen spend over thirteen hours a day playing video games which negatively affect their interaction with peers and increase their chances of becoming violent later (Harding). The question is: do we want to sit back and see what happens when these kids grow up?

Our society is practically encouraging children to not only be violent on the playground, but also to be deadly with a gun. Reliable studies show that violent video games have been continuously linked to childhood aggression and even mass shootings, yet we remain almost oblivious to the problem. More and more children are playing games, and as the companies deny the effects of their creations, the world becomes less safe. I for one would never let my future children play games which I knew could turn them into killers. Exposing children to the violence displayed in these video games is already having negative effects on our society, and will continue to do so if the games do not change.



Conclusion, updated May 28 2014
 
 
I did not receive as many comments as I would have hoped, probably because I was one of the first students to post my blog. This required viewers to scroll almost to the bottom of the page to see it. The comments I did receive were all helpful and thought provoking. One comment questioned the connection I made between the mass murders and violent video games. I do not believe that this person read the link I had attached in my paper, or did any additional research. However, I enjoyed proving my point and was happy to discuss the issue. I am fully aware that I chose a topic which has quite a bit of controversy over it and I wish I had been able to talk with more people who disagreed with me to hear their point of view. Even with the limited experience I had, I enjoyed blogging quite a bit, and found it an effective way of conveying ideas and communicating with people. I was pleased when one of the comments showed me even more research supporting my thesis. This evidence further proved my point, and convinced me that I am not the first to discover and discuss this serious issue in today's society. Exposure to violent video games is truly causing violence in children, and could be a factor in many of our increasing mass murders. We, as digital citizens, must find a way to move our society away from this artificial violence.

 

Bibliography 

7 comments:

  1. After glancing at the number of articles about video games and violence in children, it is obvious that a huge debate rages about the long term effects of gaming. I read one article that emphasizes the need for more research and another that reports on a child who murdered his grandmother,possibly because he did not think of the violence he's seen in gaming as real. While there is debate, it seems sensible to preview what young children are watching and make sure the family weaponry is locked up. Thank you for a very provocative post, demoiselle!--Ms. Riches

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Jane! I am so glad that you like my post! I agree with your first article, and I thought it seemed very unbiased and educational. I was shocked at the story linked to your second article! It worries me that the violence of video games can twist a child's perception of reality enough to create a murderer.
      Thank you again for your helpful comment!

      Delete
  2. I really lied how you brought in some really good perspectives and examples to support your argument. I was hoping you would hyperlink your McKinley source, since there is no bibliography (at least none that I could see on the blog posting page), because it is such a key supporter of your argument.

    One writing comment: Your first set of sentences seems contrary to the rest of your article where you cite many groups and people working on this question. Perhaps rethink it to reflect the rest of your article?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment, edchenable!
      The McKinley source is now in my bibliography, and I would link it, but it was an interview!

      Delete
  3. These are some crazy facts that I'm sure are supported. But the bottom line is that these games are rated M for mature use only. I believe that parent/adult involvement is the key factor! First, a minor under 18 can't buy the games without an adult and in my opinion shouldn't play them at all. The player needs to be mature enough to understand that it's only a game...not a simulation of real life. These games can desensitize a player, so you shouldn't play it for hours and hours. The horrible shootings at the high school and movie theater were from a mentally disturbed person, not the games. Those mentally disturbed people needed help and bettering monitoring.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment, Riley!
      I completely agree with you that parental monitoring would be the best solution to children's exposure to these games. However, I can think of at least twenty fifteen-year-old boys off the top of my head who play GTA, probably given to them as a present by a well-meaning adult in their life. Some parents do not understand the reasons for ratings on games, simply choose to ignore them.
      I also agree that overplaying of these games is truly damaging, especially to young people.
      The shootings were terrible tragedies by mentally ill people, yet the fact remains that they got the idea from somewhere. Like the link in my article says, some professors theorize that the shooters were acting out dark fantasies created by their gaming habits.
      Thank you again for your comment

      Delete
  4. I definitely have to agree that there are many cases when violent video games have led to human lives being affected in very drastical ways. Still we need to ask ourselves to what extend it is realistic to accuse video games for the murders that happened during the last few years in schools and families. Most of the people who would allow themselves to fall into violence because of a video game are people who have a very serious issue differentiating reality from fantasy.

    ReplyDelete

Our comments will be moderated, meaning someone will approve them before they appear.

Good comments
--are always related to the content of the post;
--consider the author and the purpose of the post;
--ask or answer a question;
--add meaningful information to the content topic;
--are constructively critical, and never hurtful;
--include personal connections to what the author wrote;
--follow the writing process.

We welcome your thoughtful contributions, especially those that might help us improve our work or expand our thinking on these topics.

If you choose the Anonymous option, please sign your name if comfortable. It is easier to respond to someone with a name. Thanks!