Video Game Violence
August 18, 2010
With all the violence in the world today, we should all be wondering what we can do to help put a stop to it all. We can start with monitoring the violence that our children are subjected to on a daily basis. Video games teach our children violence, and the earlier they are allowed to view and play this material, the more likely they are to be aggressive as an adult. Violent video games do more harm than good, to our young children.
It seems like today’s children are dependent of video game entertainment. If they were addicted to the cute little learning games, all would be well. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Kids today spend their afternoons shooting, killing, stabbing, blowing up, and running over men, women, children, and even law enforcement. What is this teaching them about our society? What long term effects can viewing this type of media have on our impressionable children?
Video game violence is harmful for our children, for the most part because it can lead them to believe that hurting living things is acceptable. These types of games teach them that it is alright to disrespect authority figures. Worst of all it completely desensitizes and takes away their innocence. Children should not be subjected to seeing blood and gore on a daily basis, much less be the mastermind behind the carnage. It is no wonder that the youth is so ready to enlist in the ARMY, and its affiliates. They had been doing it for years already, in their minds, what is the difference? If they had not been subjected to the violence so early, they would know the difference. Real death and real war is not a game, and should be treated as such.
There is so much controversy surrounding video games, but the most brought up topic with parents is that violent video games are bad for children. Yes they can be acceptable for older more mature teens and adults; not acceptable or younger more sensitive teens and children. It is our jobs as parents to monitor what they do, and from what I am seeing and hearing, we are lacking in that department.
After a little research myself, conducted using Facebook, parents were asked what they thought about violent video games and what age they would allow their children to play them. Surprisingly, many of them did not care too much about the subject stating that, “If you feel its ok for your son to play tackle football at age nine, then violent video games are probably ok too(Garland, 2010).” Another mom had this to say, “I personally don't think video games have an effect on how violent the child is cause they see so much violence on a daily basis already even on cartoons (Hunter, 2010).”
This kind of thinking is unacceptable. Violent video games are not the same as football, though neither one really serve a greater purpose. Violence does affect the way a child views the world. Whether the violence they view is on a video game or in their household, it absolutely changes the way a child views certain things; whether we as parents realize it or not. Some parents mistakenly think it is going to make them tougher, less sensitive, like it will help them deal with issues later in life. They need to expand their minds, not learn new ways to hate. Learning to hate and kill is not going to help them later in life.
Despite all the parents that did not care what their children watched or played, there were a lot of parents that were concerned about the violence stating that, “my girls are 10 and they don't play violent video games. I try to keep them away from as much violence as I can but their past has a lot to do with too (Hardy, 2010).” As discussed later in this paper, a lot of it depends on the individual themselves. This particular mom that talks about her girls past actually has very good reasoning, those girls are her step-children whose mother was shot in the head; they were only six. Cases like this are all too often. Those children have had a traumatic experience and witnessing the violence in the games would be detrimental to their mental health. Parents should care and be more aware, now more than ever, about the lessons and ideas that are planted in our children’s minds.
The violent games of today are so realistic, but the scary part is that it is getting all too familiar. Children today are not impressed with the violence; that is why the game companies are striving to make them more and more realistic. What happens when the games cannot get any more realistic? They are already addicted to the killing and the realism, but what will they do when they are no longer impressed with what they see? What do they do then to fulfill their killing needs? By allowing your child to view and partake in this type of violence, at a young age, is completely desensitizing and taking away their innocence. If you wouldn’t want them to witness something like that in real life, why would you buy them a game that shows them the dark side of life? There once was a time that a kid could see blood and freak out. Not with today’s children. They all think it is cool. When a kid hears about a robbery or shooting, they do not get scared, some of them even carry guns themselves. This has to come to an end, and it starts with us as parents.
Young children do not fully understand that what they can do in a game they cannot do in real life, where older teenagers and adults do. Video games when used correctly can be very beneficial. As parents we all try to make our kids happy, but sometimes being a little mean is what it takes to change their lives. All kids beg for the popular games, “But mom, Jimmy has it!” It is crucial not to give in and do what is best for your child. Whether they like it or not, that is all part of being a good parent. You cannot always be the good guy.
My brothers use to beg for games, and my step mother would always give in, afraid of making them mad. I think that this is copout, taking the easy way is not the most effective way. All Video games are labeled with a rating, just like with videos. They are there for a reason and should be treated with respect. Many States and countries are now and have been passing laws that prohibits the sale of certain “ultra-violent” games to minors unless they have adult permission. According to state legislature “Ultra-Violent” is defined as depicting serious injury to human beings in a manner that is especially heinous, atrocious or cruel. Assemblyman Leland Yee had a few things to say about it (2006):
“Unlike movies, where you passively watch violence, “ says Assemblyman Leland Yee, sponsor of the bill, “in a video game you are the active participant and making decisions on who to stab, main, burn or kill (2006).”
Passing laws is a great place to start, but what good do they do if the parents just go and buy the games for them. If a parent purchases a sniper game for a child, when the game is for adults only, and the child goes on a shooting rampage, are the parents going to be charged as well as the clerk that sold the game? Of course not, but that is the problem. It does not matter how many laws are passed to keep children away from them if the parents themselves are not going to follow the rules.
So what age should you allow your children to view violent games? Thirteen is a good number; it marks the age where the child becomes a teenager. By this age most children are aware that games are only games, and that what you do in a game you cannot do in reality. But there are still always some exceptions. For example, first you should look at the rating system and familiarize yourself with it, if a game says for mature, ages 13+, and your child is 13, then the next thing you should probably ask yourself is, but are they mature? You should ask yourself if your child is very sensitive, because some games may be mentally harmful. You should definitely ask yourself if your child is an aggressive child. Naturally aggressive children can become violent when playing these violent games, why add fuel to the fire?
According to John Hughes, two Iowa State University psychologists, Craig Anderson and Brad Bushman claim that “violent video games increase aggressive behavior in children and young adults.” The article written by these two explain how in three recent school shootings, the shooters were “students who habitually played violent video games.” He explains how the Columbine shooters that killed 13 people, enjoyed playing a bloody video game called “Doom.” It is said that one of them even created another version of the game where there are more weapons and the victims are unable to fight back (Hughes, 2003). This is very scary, to that this is what is in the heads of today’s youth.
Games are meant to be fun, not meant to teach death. There is enough of that around us already, why not try to keep our games as fun as possible. So the question is; have we learned anything about video game violence? Are we more informed as to the extreme importance of the game rating system? These very graphic and violent video games are created amazingly, by mature adults, with mature adults as the intended consumer. Only a mature adult can full appreciate and understand the games that are being played. Mature adults know that it is only a game. The game rating system is in place for consumer safety and therefore should be respected and followed.
Parents you know you children best; if they are a naturally aggressive child, then maybe it is not the best idea to buy them that wrestling game that all the other kids have. If your children are sensitive, then maybe bloody games are not the best choice. If your child has threatened to kill someone, use your common sense and do not go out and buy them a sniper game. That kid does not need to learn how to aim. Pay attention to your children, and remember that games are games and not babysitters. Games are OK in moderation, but should not take the place of outdoor activity or social interaction. It is time to take back our parenthood. We created them; we should be the ones to teach them right from wrong. If we are encouraging violent games on them, then we too are teaching them violence.
Ellis, S. (2010) Face book Discussion. How do you feel about violent video games and what age do you think it is OK for children to play. Retrieved August 15, 2010 from Samantha’s Facebook Profile discussion. http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/profile.php?id=100000201930233&v=wall&story_fbid=100285486699058
Hughes, J. 2003. Christian Science Monitor. Video game Violence isn’t harmless fun. Vol. 95 Issue 243, p9, 0p. Retrieved August 15, 2010 from http://web.ebscohost.com.kaplan.uah.edu/ehost/detail?vid=3&hid=11&sid=fc8713a2-1d96-49ef-8dbb-428ebf00368d%40sessionmgr14&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=aph&AN=11344625
State Legislatures. 2006. Going after Video game Violence. Jan2006. Vol. 32 Issue 1, p9-9, 1/3p. Retrieved August 17, 2010. Form http://web.ebscohost.com.kaplan.uah.edu/ehost/detail?vid=4&hid=11&sid=0bbf51cd-2d55-49da-abd8-29dff3809b93%40sessionmgr12&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=aph&AN=19353225#db=aph&AN=19353225