Finding the root of video game violence

By on April 11, 2011

By Josh Williams

It can be shocking to look at how video games have evolved, or devolved, over time. It is hard to believe that technology went from the simplicity of “Pong,” in which two vertical lines volleyed a dot back and forth, to a realistic war simulation such as “Call of Duty.” This evolution, considered a golden era by some gamers, brought forth a time of greatly improved graphics, a larger choice of games to play and, according to some, a large spike of aggressiveness in the youth of our country.

According to Dr. Donald Meichenbaum, a psychotherapist who researches violent behavior, about five to ten percent of children in the United States exhibit significant aggressive behavior. Many Americans are deciding to blame this apparent rise in violence on the video games that demonstrate violent qualities. For example, the controversial “Grand Theft Auto” series puts the player in control of a person involved in crime. This includes killing innocents on the street, as well as exposure to drug use, foul language and prostitution. Those blaming video games often believe that since a child sees he can shoot people at will on the video game, he will believe it is OK in real life.

However, no one blaming video games seems to mention an important concept that is expressed within these games: choice. The player has the choice to shoot all of the people on the street, steal a car or go to the strip club. The player has the real power. Therefore, if a child is exhibiting joy in shooting people in the game, when he or she does not have to, it would make more sense to put the blame of aggressiveness on something else that has more of an influence on the child.

Instead of turning this into a witch hunt in which violent video games are the source of all evil, we can broaden our sight to include sources that have even more of an impact on children’s behavior. Other things must shoulder some of the blame – things such as how parents raise their children, the movies children are allowed to watch, violence on the news, and the influence of other children at school. If you consider that they have numerous exposures to violence, it makes sense that young children, who learn mainly by experience, would be prone to exhibit violent behavior.

I am not claiming that violent video games have nothing to do with a rise in violence, or that they do not make people more aggressive. However, I am claiming that there are other, more important factors to be considered. Parenting would be No. 1. If the child grows up with parents who exhibit violence or do not teach the child that violence on the television is wrong, the blame is on the parents for not properly raising the child to know right from wrong and for exposing the child to violence.

I am also not putting all the blame on parents. I am merely claiming that this issue has more than one source. It has numerous roots that go back to different aspects within society. Therefore, discretion of parents is necessary, in order to lessen the exposure and impact of this violence that children aren’t prepared to handle. Parents should filter violent movies, video games, websites, etc., until they feel that the child is mature enough to handle such violence and to understand that it is wrong. As we are the generation that will now be giving birth to the new children of America, this responsibility is in our hands.


About Michael Kennedy

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