August 24, 2015 by gregrabidoux2013
So, a recent study was just published by the American Psychological Association (there are always new studies, right?) and this one, shockingly (!) suggested a link between, get this, violent video-games and violent kids.
Yes, I know, if you are a parent or legal guardian and have ever told your kid “Enough with the decapitation, laser-burning and Level 12 kills” and got lots of grief and back-talk for your efforts then you already knew what the APA would find.
But the debate that has been raging for years when it comes to violent and vivid videogames and violent, aggressive behavior of those who play is not just “if there is a causal “link” but if the former actually causes the latter.
And this is where it becomes tricky. Both as a methodological research and behavioral outcome and a public policy issue.
If you’ve ever read, researched or even wondered out loud about these type of studies and concluded, “Man, there are a lot of things that could cause violent behavior,” then you already also have a good sense of the challenges academic researchers face when addressing this type of possible action-behavior link.
There ARE a lot of factors that can cause violent behavior in kids today, aren’t there?
Peer pressure, parent guidance or lack thereof, bullying, diet, nutrition, hormones, partially developed frontal lobes of the brain, and for all I know, subliminal messaging from SpongeBob SQ. Pants (!).
Recently, over a holiday break I peeked in on the hi-tech, ultra-sound surround, sense-immersion of today’s videogames. This was easy research as a nephew of mine is in his words “a modern-day gamer.”
The gore, vivid nature of the “killings” and the immediate gratification and reinforcement of his “quick kills” (Mortal Kombat something or other I think it was) which the recent APA study concludes helps to re-wire young brains to truly enjoy and seek out the ‘”rush” violence provides, was astonishing.
The insensitivity I also see when he and his friends watch shows that glorify violence and make sport” of violent and even tragic deaths on television (The Face of Death videos) is the same I see when he “games.”
Look, I don’t know if my nephew is now more prone to actual violence because of his gaming addiction or for that matter any of the millions of kids and adults who play this stuff but it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to dismiss all of these games and addictions to these games as innocent, harmless fun.
I do know that it seems far too many hours are being spent by our kids enjoying the endorphin boost they seem to get from the very vivid and ultra-realistic act of killing, maiming, decapitation and destruction of the images they see and the sounds of death and torture they hear and the rewards they get from these “games.”
I am convinced now that the hours I spent watching shows like The Brady Bunch and playing games like RISK while growing up, while still probably a waste of time, sure didn’t make me blood thirsty. Perhaps, power-hungry and envious of a cool stay-at-home Dad but no desire for maiming that I recall.
Lawmakers like those in California and Arizona are once again deliberating whether to either ban certain videogames or make it harder for kids to get based on these and other studies I’ve referred about the video-violence link. A number of feminist groups like Code Pink are also becoming more vocal about the extremely misogynistic and hateful violence in so many of these games against women and girls. These and other activists claim that the message in the vast majority of these games is the drumbeat that girls and women are: 1) Nothing more than sex objects and 2) If they aren’t submissive then enjoy beating, raping and even killing them, because 3) They are sub-human.
Gamers and gaming advocates argue that again, there is no definitive proof that violent video games causes violent behavior and that these games even help kids and adults “vent” anger or rage into gaming which ultimately doesn’t hurt anyone, including females.
Why all the “rage” though to begin with?
After seeing some of these games they refer to it’s hard for me to argue with folks like Code Pink and their findings.
Maybe the answer is just to insist that our kids unplug and go outside and play more. Even if they do give us “death-stares” and grouchy grumblings in return.
As for me, I am starting to get why according to our State Department why terrorists are apparently training young kids to become terrorists by, you guessed it, playing countless hours of extremely violent video games.
I wonder, do they know something we don’t about links, causes and violence?
I also wonder, what are they teaching their kids and why and what about us?
How about you?
*After the Tiger there a few links you may want to check out. One is a good primer for parents about which games they may want to avoid for their kids and one is a recent TIME magazine article about this topic.