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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 8:12PM
I do think that children have early exposure to violence in both video games and movies become desensitized to real-life violence.

When young children are in early developmental stages, they are unable to comprehend the deep meaning of death and its consequences. When violent deaths are portrayed in the absence of all emotions- grief, empathy, sympathy, compassion, young children don't associate those emotions with death.

I am not blaming the video games/movie industry. It IS the parent's responsibility to make sure their children are not exposed before they are cognitively and emotionally able to process it.

Jan 17, 2013 8:11PM
Duh......violent video games contribute to a child's violent behavior?  What a concept!
Jan 17, 2013 8:11PM
Jan 17, 2013 8:11PM
I don't see why they always bring back the idea that someone did what they did because of video games. STOP BLAMING THE GAMES! The world needs to stop blaming them. The people who do those kinds of thing's are already messed up in the head and have some psychological disorder. There is NO EVIDENCE that says violent video games make you violent. I play mainly all violent video games and i am not violent of what so ever.  This whole thing of blaming guns and games needs to stop...blame the people that control the guns and actually shoot others. I have a similar argument,  I blame my pencil for making mistakes so we should ban pencils all over the country because so many other people do it too.
Jan 17, 2013 8:10PM
Look people, Video Games are merely a way to have fun, much like bumper carts at a carnival.  Do we blame bumper carts for car accidents?  No, we blame the person behind the wheel.  If anything or anyone were to blame here it is the parents and whoever allowed them access to guns (probably the parents).  We just keep blaming other things and people because we (the parents) don't want to accept the blame for what happened.  I myself play violent video games on a DAILY basis.  I also happen to work for Wal-Mart and have done so for over 9 years.  Also may I add that I've played such video games as Duke Nukem 3d and Quake since I was about 12 years old.  I haven't injured anyone even with my bare hands.  So what does that say?!  If video games are any part of the cause then why have I not gone berzerk and killed a bunch of people?!  I'll tell you why, because I realise the difference between reality and a video game, because I was raised better than that, because I realise the value of human life, because I would much rather give my life to save another than to take one.  I was surrounded by violence as a child.  Between an abusive father and abusive step fathers and living in a car at times, my life was not pretty.  I still carry those memories with me and it made me who I am but I am not a violent person.  Just the opposite.  As a closer I'd like to add my Mother was always there for me and taught me to be a better person, video games and my choice of music are merely outlets that allow me to cool off and forget the day behind me.  Stop Blaming Video Games.  Blame yourself!
Jan 17, 2013 8:09PM
Little over two months? Wasn't that just last month?
Jan 17, 2013 8:07PM

Dynasty Warrier is a game based on the dynasty of china during that time and on true historical information, don't we also have our children exposed to this same type of violence in history class? Really be a parent, know what your children are watching, discuss with them it is a GAME and can be learned from not exemplafied. Violence is in our society always has been - how the parent manages it is the issue. Unfortunately most parents are afraid their children won't like them or love them if they disciplin them. HELLO that is part of being a parent, take responsibility for your childs action and stop blaming, games, tv etc that you can control


Jan 17, 2013 8:06PM
This argument drives me nuts. I've been playing video games of all genres as far back as I can remember and I have no criminal record of any kind. "Experts" and lawmakers want people to do "do the math" and make the connection between the two? Fine.

Since it's initial release, the Call of Duty franchise has released 9 of their main titles to major consoles. This does not include mobile apps and expansions. As of November 2011 (sorry I don't have more up to date figures on this) they have reported over 100,000,000 copies of their major titles sold. Assuming we lump them all together and that a majority of them are repeat buyers, we're looking at 13888888 people (using a 125 mil number I'm pretty sure it's higher than that to date). That's almost 14000000 people exposing themselves to a violent video game of their own free will. If we're going by their logic and we blame violent video games for our crazies, you have a 1/526 chance that the person next to you is going to "go postal" based on playing this violent video game. It may seem like a small chance but we're looking at a population of 7,060,281,019.

Stop pointing the finger at games. It is a stupid argument that benefits no one. By doing this you're not fixing the problem, you're putting a band-aid on a landmine victim. Until you fix the actual problem (and don't be fooled, the problem is the people) blaming everything else will not help anyone.

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