Friday Night Forum: Violence in Gaming and its Effects on Children

Friday Night Forum: Violence in Gaming and its Effects on Children

Corona logoThroughout the past several months, there’s been a lot of buzz around the effects of violence in gaming on young minds. In January, President Obama proposed funding to research this relationship following a series of gun-related fatalities.

As games become increasingly bloody and more realistic, many wonder whether a daily dose of violent gaming nurtures aggression in children. While children can consume TV and movies as passive viewers, video games require interaction, which is thought to have more influence over the growing mind.

The findings are mixed. While a recent study by Ohio State University concluded that violent games could increase aggression over time, it was “impossible to link games to violent criminal behavior.” Based on another study, the Supreme Court struck down a California law in 2011 that restricted the sale and rental of violent video games to minors, due to insufficient evidence that the two were connected.

What’s your take: In the long term, does violent interactive media – such as video and mobile games – foster aggression in children?

  • Sean Steel
    Posted at 07:14h, 16 February

    The few folks in high places who point their fingers at video games are doing so because some of the mass shooters in the US played video games. Their only evidence is that a shooter played video games so video games must be the issue. Using that same logic I can say any violent crime that didn’t involve a gamer was caused because the aggressor did NOT play video games. My evidence is just as credible.

    Obama’s executive action wasn’t exclusively for video games / violence research, it was for doing research into what causes mass shootings. I am sure a large part of it will be on video games though…. which is great. Gathering evidence before you make decisions/accusations is what should be done.

    Anyways, my opinion is that crazy people are going to do crazy things. Video games might be a trigger but then again all of the below could be as well(which means we would want to restrict those as well)
    *tv shows
    *comic books
    *regular books
    *any sort of sport that involves violence
    *golf(it makes me want to be violent, at least).

    The last I’d want to mention is that I’ve been carded more buying video games then I have when buying alcohol. Putting in regulations so that only adults can buy the games won’t have much impact as most stores already enforce an age limit at a policy level.

  • charlie federspiel
    Posted at 12:31h, 17 February

    Video game play is certainly meant to be a only game, but we all know people who have taken them too far. Among these few, for some of them, games *may* have formed part of their conditioning given that more traditional methods of teaching values have been discarded or overlooked. Since you are not likely to so much as learn the value of money from school, much less any of the traditional spiritual values, the burden of mentoring kids is that much more on the other people and institutions in their lives.
    Examining the worlds created within games, its easy to find a lot of games that have no real moral structuring to their violence. Sometimes, an unseen kidnapping is used as an excuse to beat down anyone walking down the same street as you. Often there is an option to skip the back-story to advance to the action.
    All violence contains an inherent moral dilemma, and exposing the dilemma coupled with the action is a difficult responsibility for game developers.
    Here are some approaches where reinforcing real spiritual strengths can positively affect game enjoyment:
    *Does the main character have admirable traits outside their fighting ability?
    *If a teammate makes a mistake, is a player likely to show restraint?
    *After the game is over, does the character show mercy to the remaining foes?
    *If a civilian is passed over without being shot, could that civilian have the option of becoming a teammate?

    Mature Audience Only games are the most sought after by all age groups. I think coding dilemmas rather than simple violence could make the difference between a time-waste in front of the tube and a game the family enjoys.

  • Stephen Lewis
    Posted at 20:45h, 17 February

    Chess, a game that’s been around for hundreds of years, could be seen as violent, interactive media; A game of war. But nobody questions if it fosters aggression in children. In fact, we are delighted when kids pick it up since it is seen as a marker of intelligence. It’s not controversial because the violence is so abstract.

    So a more focused question might be, how does the *realistic* depiction of violence in games affect children? Does realism somehow foster real aggression in a way that non-realism (chess) doesn’t?

    We know that being exposed to actual, real violence (abuse, bullying in school, being raised in a war zone) can have a profound, negative affects on child development. We also know that adults partaking in, or victims of, real violence can receive deep and lasting psychological scars (PTSD) even if they have no physical wounds. So another question raised related to games is, are children developmentally mature enough to distinguish real violence in the real world from realistic violence in a fantasy world?

    When my daughter was 3 years old she burst into tears at a kid’s birthday party when a pinata bunny was demolished by other children wielding a baseball bat. She thought she was witnessing the dismemberment of a real animal and it was deeply disturbing to her. A couple years older and she was happily taking part in the slaughter. So age, experience, and personal temperament all must play a roll in a particular child’s ability to distinguish between real and fantasy violence.

    Both my children are fascinated by, and in some way addicted to, video/mobile games. (I’m sure it has nothing to do with their Dad’s occupation). Neither one is particularly drawn to violent games; My son’s current drug of choice is Minecraft creative mode and my daughter’s is Club Penguin. But they have peers who most certainly are drawn to violent games. And I can’t help but notice a correlation with the kids who are more interested in violent games and their more aggressive, sometimes violent behavior in their real world interactions.

    I’m not surprised when an aggressive, or even violent kid, is drawn to violent games, but I don’t blame the game for the kid’s behavior. Some kids are just born more interested in violence than others, so of course the games they play are going to reflect that. But if I were the parent of such a child I would guide them away from any media with with realistic violence since I wouldn’t want to take the chance that my kid was NOT able to fully appreciate the difference between a cardboard bunny and a real one.

  • Peter
    Posted at 07:42h, 18 February

    It has long been known that exposing folks to violence makes them more prone violent acts themselves. The classic experiment in Psychology is the Bobo the Clown doll experiment. Wonderfully interesting, and I’d recommend giving the original video a watch, with Bandura’s commentary:

    Does this mean that all shootings were caused by long term exposure to violent video games? I’m not so sure about that, but, in my opinion, society certainly ought to be more careful than we currently are at glorifying violent acts in both movies and video games.

  • scruffy
    Posted at 15:57h, 21 February

    we cannot blame video games in fact we are better now than we were 100 years ago violence is a part of being human there is no way to control it completely in the past we solved a lot of disputes with violence and war also the government are invading other countries for oil so they are not a good rolemodel and they have no right to critisise games or anything else

  • Alf
    Posted at 17:24h, 21 February

    IMHO, violent people acquired this behavior collectively from what environment they grew up with, be it family culture or social norms they are in before the age of twelve. If we built out a strong foundation of good behavior on our modern children they can sift through a variety of influences and can pick the best in most, if not all, cases.