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Surrounded by Violence: Students debate violence in video games

Violent video games, movies do not correlate with real life violence

By Jack Cahill ’17

In a society polarized by issues of gun violence, a popular sentiment is that violent video games and movies lead to increased gun and societal violence.

That idea may sound logical, but many studies have shown that there isn’t a correlation between violent entertainment and real acts of violence.

This is for a variety of reasons, and is summed up in a long term study conducted by the Journal of Communication.

“Results suggest that societal consumption of media violence is not predictive of increased societal violence rates,” the article said.

The study researched young teens who often see violent media, whether it was a movie or video game.

Years later, the young teens who were exposed to media and game violence were not prone to acting more violently than the individuals who weren’t exposed to much violence.  

Using government statistics on youth violence and statistics on purchases of violent video games, the Journal of Communication found highly surprising results.

These results were that “the consumption of violent video games has an inverse relation with youth violence.”

That means that in the period in which youth violence has deceased, violent video game purchases have increased rapidly.

The Journal notes that “perhaps correlation doesn’t imply causation,” but the results are surprising nonetheless.

Other academic studies have found similar results.

One British study conducted by Oxford University researched the effects of violent video games, both positive and negative, on children aged 11-13.

The results were largely positive and didn’t find any significant correlation between violent video games and violence in adolescence.

“The amount of time spent playing video games has a much bigger impact on kids’ behaviour than the type of games they play…despite moral panic about games like ‘Grand Theft Auto’ and ‘Call of Duty’,” the study found.

This finding was bolstered by the fact that the playing of any video game for more than three hours a day would generally lead to hyperactivity and decreased attention spans, while playing any video game regularly for short time periods generally leads to increased sociability and competitiveness.

This shows the fact that with violent video games and movies, moderation and self control is key, but that any societal hysteria on this issue is ultimately unfounded.

Violent video games can cause agression, poor social skills

By Andrew Howard ’17

Violent video games are commonplace in high schooler’s lives, and many do not think of the effects it can have later in life.

There are many other harmful effects of playing violent video games.

“In reviewing more than 150 research papers, the task force found a consistent relationship between the games and an increase in ‘aggressive behavior’ as well as a decrease in ‘prosocial behavior, empathy and sensitivity to aggression’ and that this behavior continued for some time,” according to an article from CBS News.

So violent video games may not lead to crime, but being desensitized to violence can be just as bad. If a kid can kill people in a game all day and feel no remorse, nothing is necessarily stopping him from doing it in the real world, or at the very least losing sight between right and wrong.

A study by Harvard Mental Health also raised the issue of desensitizing kids from violence.

“These organizations (the AAP and the AACAP) express concern that exposure to aggressive behavior or violence in video games and other media may, over time, desensitize youths by numbing them emotionally, cause nightmares and sleep problems, impair school performance, and lead to aggressive behavior and bullying,” the Harvard report said.

The Harvard article also brought up a study of the U.S. Surgeon General in 2001 who found an association between violent video games and increased aggressive thinking and behavior in youths.

With all of the mass shootings in 2015, we also might have been desensitized by violence, because every day it was just another news story. Instead we should think about it as human lives.

Every time we pick up a controller and play “Grand Theft Auto” we shouldn’t just kill someone because we can, we should understand that although it is not a real human life, it still represents one.

“Grand Theft Auto” is one of the most popular video games among teenagers, according to the Harvard report. That game is 100 percent violence, drugs and sex.

It is games like this that desensitize us because, again, if it’s in a game, why not do it in real life?

“The Pew Research Center reported in 2008 that 97 percent of youths ages 12 to 17 played some type of video game, and that two-thirds of them played action and adventure games that tend to contain violent content,” the Harvard report said.

There is something to be said for violent video games. They put you in a place you usually wouldn’t put yourself, they allow you to become a different person, but why do you want to be the person who kills someone?

“A separate analysis found that more than half of all video games rated by the ESRB contained violence, including more than 90 percent of those rated as appropriate for children 10 years or older,” the Harvard report said.

The ESRB is the company who provides the ratings for video games. It stands for Entertainment Software Rating Board.

This statistic proves that the ESRB is doing nothing to help prevent kids from this exposure to violence.

They are saying it is okay for a 10 year old to kill someone in a video game.

Is that same kid going to realize that killing isn’t allowed in real life?

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