Violent video games and child aggression
Do children become more aggressive after playing video games or are aggressive kids more attracted to violent videos?
The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut on Dec. 14 has left the world shocked and heartbroken. In the wake of 26 deaths, including 20 children, there is a desperate search for answers.
As the community of Newtown and the nation try to make sense of why an individual would carry out such devastation, gun control, mental health issues and violent video games have all been called into question.
As details unfold surrounding Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old Newtown shooter, his “strange” behavior and “obsession” with violent video games keeps surfacing. Lanza lived at his mother's colonial-style mansion, where he had two of the house's four bedrooms – one for himself and the other for the computer where he played violent video games, reports the The Telegraph.
According to express.co.uk, Lanza's favorite video game was said to be a shockingly violent fantasy war game called Dynasty Warriors. Was it a game or easy access to a deadly arsenal of guns – he reportedly learned how to shoot after his mother took him to local ranges - that inspired Lanza to carry out the deadly massacre?
The topic of virtual violence resulting in real life aggression has long been controversial. Are these games simply a fun hobby, or for children who may already be mentally or emotionally unstable, do these games have the ability to push someone over the edge?
A study by Dr. Craig A. Anderson, Ph.D., of Iowa State University in Ames looked at how children and teen's video game habits at one time related to their behavior three to six months later, reports CNN.com.Bing: The latest developments in the Connecticut school shooting.
In every group, children who were exposed to more video game violence did become more aggressive over time than their peers who had less exposure, cites the study. This was true even after the researchers took into account how aggressive the children were at the beginning of the study – a strong predictor of future bad behavior, reports CNN.com.
The findings are “pretty good evidence” that violent video games do indeed cause aggressive behavior, Dr. L. Rowell Huesmann, director of the Research Center for Group Dynamics at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research in Ann Arbor was quoted on CNN.com.
"There is a real harm in children having exposure to violence, such as playing violent video games," says Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Debra Kissen, Ph.D., M.H.S.A. of Chicago, IL. "By playing violent video games, children (and adults) become desensitized to this content and therefore experience less of an emotional reaction to violence," says Kissen. "Therefore, violent behavior becomes normalized and becomes a more reasonable alternative when experiencing a conflict."
Other researchers have challenged the association between violent video game use and school shootings, saying that most of the young perpetrators had personality traits, which were apparent before the shootings and predisposed them to violence, reports the Harvard Mental Health Letter. These factors make it more difficult to accept the playing of violent games as an independent risk factor.
Do you think that violent video games trigger aggressive behavior in kids? Why or why not?
Photo: Image Source/Getty Images
For those who say that the violent video games and the constant barrage of violent T.V. shows featuring, and even glorifying guns, those who feel that it's so cool to watch stunningly beautiful women, impeccably dressed, pull an automatic weapon from their garter belt and proceed to annihilate the "Bad guys", those of you who think that because you've played these games, and haven't killed anyone as a result. You say that this type of thing has no effect on the behavior and development of children and youth. If you're one of those, then pray tell me why you take such drastic measures to shield your child(ren) from pornographic and sexually explicit materials found on the internet, store shelves, in magazines etc. Why worry when you see women bound and gagged being ravished by a man or group of men? Why should there be ANY CONCERN about violence against women. You're the educated ones, NOT the loonies, but you're scared shi*less about your kids watching, witnessing and participating in this kind of behavior. WHY...WHY....WHY???? I'D APPRECIATE SOME CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK. Let's adopt a slogan, create a new "meme" Can we all agree that we should call it.........."LET THEM WATCH PORN". (Won't have any effect on their development or their attitudes towards women). After all, many of you grew up watching porn and have never beaten a woman yet.
In our house, if you cannot buy it yourself because of age restrictions, you don't get it. We have a teenager that has social/anxiety issues, but is the complete opposite of Adam Lanza in described demeanor. Still, his anti-social behavior feeds off the games he does play and even if it is a race of Mario Kart cut short, he sometimes has an overly aggressive reaction when told to shut it down. I think these games do raise aggressive tendencies in people with these personalities and disorders. But that means, as parents, we need to take time away from our distracted lives and monitor our kids. Not blame games or guns.
Some of the post here say Video games do no harm- They miss the point of the article and the study. Do kids, when exposed, have the propensity for violent acts, more than those Not exposed. YES. A simple as it is- any exposure de-sensitises. Did some of us play and not commit violence, YES. And we were raised with slightly more respect for human life. Children today, due to less church, civility, morals, and manners, and mostly poor parenting- are likely to be pushed over that edge more readily as thier edge is lower. If we can blame a gun, surely we can blame hours and hours of 1st person shooter practice.
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