|Graphic Image by Jimmy Turrell|
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.