Do Video Games Cause Violence?

I know this is an old topic, but I just wanted to say my piece.

There has been a lot of controversy in the US about video games and the effect they have on kids. Some parents complain that video games loaded with violence give kids the impression that it is an appropriate way to solve their problems.

This whole concept of blaming video games seems to have sparked off with the incident at Columbine High School, which, by the way, has spawned its own video game called Super Columbine Massacre RPG. The parents of the victims were looking for someone to blame, which is only natural, and somehow they latched onto video games and movies as the source of the two offenders aggression. These parents went so far as to attempt to sue the makers of video games and movies for their supposed influence in the Columbine incident. Thankfully, their suit was thrown out as ridiculous.

Do video games contain a lot of violence? Well, sure they do. Violence and action are the main staples of some of the most popular video games ever to come out, like first-person-shooters Doom and Halo. There’s also the wildly popular Grand Theft Auto series which, as the name implies, focuses on stealing cars and also involves crime-filled storyline scenarios and prostitution, among other things. Even the MMO genre has its share of violence. Most of the more popular MMOs incorporate some form of PvP (player versus player) combat into their gameplay.

So, does that mean video games are to blame for inappropriate behavior? Well, no, it doesn’t. Responsibility always falls back on the person who commits the act, and on the parents if the person is a child. I grew up playing video games. As an adult I’ve played a lot of violent video games as well. I’ve also seen a lot of violent, gory, criminal things on television, in the movies, and in real life, both as a kid and as an adult. So, does that mean I can go kill someone and then blame it on video games? Can I say TV made me do it? Get real. People are set above animals for a reason. We are sentient. We can think. We can assimilate new information and come to logical conclusions. It is up to each person to use that knowledge appropriately. Just because I’ve seen someone die on TV from a shotgun blast to the face doesn’t mean that it’s something I should do too. I’ve also seen the Roadrunner run through a wall with a road and scenery painted on it. I’m not going to do that crap either. If someone can’t distinguish between fiction and reality, that’s not a matter of the media they’ve been exposed to. It’s a matter of a mental disorder.

In the case of children and childrens behavior, the responsibility ultimately lies with the parents. If parents don’t want their children playing violent video games, then maybe they should take an active role in their child’s life and monitor what they have access to. Either watch or research what they’re planning on watching and make a yes or no decision. Check out the music they’re listening to and decide on whether or not you think it’s right for them. Oh, and those labels on the covers of video games (and the ratings on movies for that matter) are there for a reason. They don’t get marked “Mature” because they involve calculus, you know.

On top of keeping track of what your kid is seeing, doing, and listening to, another great idea might be to get involved in your kids life. Remind them that you’re not just their parent, you’re their friend. Ask them how they feel. Ask them about problems they’re having. Tell them they don’t have to be embarrassed with you because you may have been through it too. Emphasize “may” so they don’t think you’re being condescending. If they want to see or listen to something you object to, ask them why they like it. Just… talk to them. If parents talk to their kids more and develop a better relationship with them, then I’m sure most of these crazy things that happen (like Columbine) can be avoided. The biggest thing to remember is that kids should be respected too.

Then again, this all makes too much sense, and we’re living in a time when common sense just isn’t so common anymore.

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