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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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Photo: Image Source/Getty Images

Jan 17, 2013 6:17PM

it is true T.V., movies, news, and games have the influence on the youth of today.  it does desensitize them and gives them ideas of violence.  Kids play cops and robbers they get it from TV, Movies add that to the hate which is spewed from some Music and you have the recipe for disaster.  All this said:

 Parents you are the main filter for your children, it really is our fault when it comes to undisciplined children, it is okay to SAY NO.  I do understand some children who have deficiencies in this world.  Those we have to handle with care, but it does not escape the responsibility of being the parent.  We do need to wake up and be the Mom's and Dads we need to be for the sake of our country and world and others who live here.  Not everyone is a winner but when you work hard and do your best you will be blessed.   

Jan 17, 2013 6:17PM
Back in the day, the three stooges didn't make people go around poking each others eyes out any more than some video game which kids know are not real, causes gun violence.

This entire argument has been blown out of control because of what happened in an elementary school. Yes, its sad and I do feel for those affected but the problem in this country isn't video games or guns. The problem in this country are idiots. Focus on the idiots first and watch how better thing begin to be.

Jan 17, 2013 6:16PM
How about we talk about the violence and aggressiveness on the 24hour news networks?
Jan 17, 2013 6:16PM
Yes, violent games do encourage crime.  It's like driving down the street after spending an entire day on the Internet.  You start seeing things in terms of a 'screen' rather than real life.  Your judgement is eschewed and you become careless.. The idea of actually driving through a red light but you are so programmed to watching a screen that you becine desubsutuzed ti reality.    
Jan 17, 2013 6:15PM
stop blaming video games! I've been playing shooter games since before I should have been, and I've never even gotten in a fistfight through my entire school life. When I'm playing call of duty, I might yell out "headshot!" In no way has that ever translated to violent tendencies for me. The violence stops at the video game, and in no way carries over into the real world, not for me anyway. I think the majority of "level headed" video game players out there would agree. 99.99 percent of people who play violent video games will never commit a violent act in their lives. Its the .01 that ruin it for everybody else. We don't have a gun problem, we have a MENTAL HEALTHCARE problem!
Jan 17, 2013 6:15PM

I hate when **** like this is said...video game dont promote **** but entertainment. "In a recent study.." my ****!!! CEO's are robbing billions for millions, nothing is said! I dont come on your job and slap the dick out your mouth?!?!? Then why come and tell me my job is killing kids- GO **** yourself "BigBrother"


You don't have to have research to know that when you experience stimuli over and over that it becomes the new norm for you. We have ample studies that support the simple statement; "you are what you experience". It doesn't take a neuroscientist to deduce that anyone who watches  horrific and violent dvd's and engages in violent interactive gaming is going to be affected by them. Those who are mentally challenged will be more affected if they cannot discern reality from fantasy.


Parents and educators must play a role as well as government instituting gun controls but most importantly the media industry has got to be held accountable when it comes to what they are making available to the public to view.


If you live and experience calmness and peacefulness you will increase the chances of being a calm and peaceful person. If you live and experience  violence and human degradation you will increase the chances of being violent and degrading to others.  

Jan 17, 2013 6:11PM
Dynasty Warriors... "Shockingly violent"?  Last I checked there was no blood or anything in Dynasty Warriors, just little flashes of light when you hit someone, and all it is is grinding through waves of stupid faceless computer warriors who disappear about a second after you "kill" them.  Not to mention it is totally obviously fantasy violence - you can swing a sword in that game and knock down 20 enemies.  There is no situation in reality where that could happen.  There's more shocking violence in "Paperboy" an old school NES game where your character is a kid who can get run over by a car (and frequently does, if you play like I did).  Granted, no fighting or blood there either, but it's still a kid who is beaten down/run over/killed in that game.
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