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Violent video games and child aggression

Survey finds 75 percent of parents think violent video games contribute to actual violence.

By Charyn Pfeuffer - MSN Living Editor Jan 16, 2013 9:40PM

Little more than one month has passed since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut and the world still grieves for the 26 lives lost.

As the community of Newtown and the nation struggle to make sense of the devastation, gun control, mental health issues and violent video games have all been called into question. Groups like Sandy Hook Promise call for a ‘national conversation’ and President Obama is rolling out plans to curb gun violence, but the search for solutions on how to avoid a repeat incident remains.

Photo: Image Source/Getty ImagesIn the days following the shooting, details unfolded surrounding Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old Newtown shooter, his “strange” behavior and “obsession” with violent video games kept 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?

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A new survey from Common Sense Media found that 75 percent of parents think violent video games contribute to actual violence. 1,050 people were surveyed, and 89 percent of them say violence in video games is a problem. (45 percent say it's a major problem; 44 percent say it's a minor problem.)

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"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."

News: Gun group: Our industry didn't cause Newtown

Jason Schreier, Editor of Kotaku, the Gamer's Guide challenges the Common Sense Media survey findings and the association between violent video game use and violence.

Bing: How to tell if your child is emotionally disturbed

“There have been no scientific studies that connect violent video games to violence,” he wrote on the site.  “There have been studies that connect violent video games to aggression (more on that in the near future), but there is absolutely zero evidence, according to leading researchers in this field, that links violent video games to violent crime in any way.”

Tell us on Facebook: Are you ok with your kids playing violent video games?

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12 violent video games to avoid
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Photo: Image Source/Getty Images

Jan 17, 2013 6:46PM
Nice job just phoning this one in MSN. This seriously has got to be some of the laziest journalism that I have seen. I bet an intern busted this piece out in 15 min and then it got slapped on the home page just so you could have your name entered into the discussion of violent games. If you wanted to actually have an intelligent conversation in regards to violent video games and children, then maybe you should look into the ESRB and the rating system that is in place to keep violent games out of the hands of children that shouldn't be playing them. Then instead of having a survey asking parents their personal opinion whether or not violence in games inspires violence in real life, instead you can ask those same parents how many of them have purchased a game for their adolescent child without looking at the rating or investigating the content of the game. Those results would speak much louder than this trivial article.   
Jan 17, 2013 6:45PM
I grew up in an ancient generation years removed from these games. What we had were cowboys and indians, guns and rifles that shot caps and plastic bullets. I was playing with my brother and he was the bad guy. I caught him and strung him up by the neck. I had the good sense to stop when I saw I was hurting him and my dad reinforced my bad judgement when he got home, The fact that there was a parental intervention may be the difference between the violence I learned as a child and the violence learned from video games and the reaction todays children have. I see to many children fighting and being overlooked by parents. The idea of spare the rod and spoil the child seems to be todays mantra. If the parent has super psychological skills to handle the situation fine but too many don't and even those that do know that little Johnny in many cases is not being taught right from wrong, ethics and morals, logic and reasoning skills are very rare. Until those values are once again at the top of parenting lists we are going to have an increasingly violent society. We are reaping what we have sown.
Jan 17, 2013 6:45PM
I say for freaking sure it does.  I detest these games and don't let my 8 year old near them.
Jan 17, 2013 6:44PM

Do video games encourage violence? Give me a break.


Do the endless wars carried on by our Military Industrial Complex encourage suicides in our soldiers. You bet they do.


Does the behavior of our feckless and irresponsible politicians and our too big to govern government encourage violence. You bet it does.


Does the wanton greed and avarice of our TBTF and TBTJ criminal banksters encourage violence? You bet they do.


Will our "fearless leaders" ever address these facts? You bet they won't. 

Jan 17, 2013 6:44PM
If people would pay attention and notice that some people are outcast and need a social connection who cares for them, I believe we'd see less violence of any kind. People don't shoot people they love. And, loved people don't lash out in violence.
Jan 17, 2013 6:43PM
people know the seperation from games and true life(maby some mental people are not as aware) seems funny the government says that violent games contrubate to killing, so what do thay want....part of the profit in the form of a "we'r doing the right thing tax." this government has go to hell in a hand basket and is draging the nation and its people as far down there sewer as thay may...we need to wake up.
Jan 17, 2013 6:42PM
Whew!!  Thank Goodness, for the longest time I thought Rock & Roll was to blame.
Jan 17, 2013 6:41PM
If you're a screwed up individual, then that's just what you are... a video game that either your parents allow you to play it or you do it on your own... then that's just your own damn issue. Individuals need to start taking responsibility for their own actions. No one is sitting you down and forcing you to play... a game (wait did you catch that?) a GAME !!!
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