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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?

More from MSN Living:
12 violent video games to avoid
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Photo: Image Source/Getty Images

Jan 17, 2013 5:46PM
The mass media/entertainment system, which is motivated more by greed and other destructive social values, is always reluctant to admit the connection.

Kids (whose brains are still developing) are desensitized to violence by TV, movies and games.  Everything is like it's pretend and a cartoon. 

Jan 17, 2013 5:45PM
If video games and movies caused violence in societies then Japan would be the murder capitol of the world.
Jan 17, 2013 5:44PM

Video games don't kill people, People kill people


Jan 17, 2013 5:44PM
Not only video games also movies and tv, the all have graphic violence!
Jan 17, 2013 5:43PM

It comes down to making choices in our own homes.  Too many parents are permissive, agnostic and in denial about the affects because it takes real effort to make hard choices. The choice is simple - there are far too many healthy sources of entertainment, movies & games, that the violent stuff is just 'garbage' and white noise.  Parents, don't be afraid to filter and instill filters.  We don't drink society's kool-aid.

Jan 17, 2013 5:43PM

These low lifed scumbags in the film and video industry should get a taste of their own medicine as far as I am concerned. I would not shed a tear for the sleazers who teach our kids from babies to teenagers about sex and violence.


Have you ever seen one of our useless, pandering political hacks speak out against these scumbags? Didn't think so as they cowtow to the scuzzball entertainers to get their  campaign dollars.

Jan 17, 2013 5:43PM

Children are being completely desensitized by the violence in these video games and the extreme violence in movies.


Without proper parental supervision and parental guidance and parental responsibility...yes there is a DEFINITELY connection.


Wake up people!!!  Stop the insanity!!!


Take responsibility for your actions or lack of action.


Enough already!!!

Jan 17, 2013 5:42PM

If video games desensitize our children to violence...what about television, or the news shows reporting as a matter of fact on the wars that are being conducted, i.e. capturing Bin Laden, and the praise received by the Seal Team 6. I think placing blame is easy and endless, we can find all types of reasons why something terrible happens...let's practice the one thing that will help avoid it...parenting.

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