No one can deny that violent video games have become both prevalent as well as a billion dollar industry. Whether you love them or hate them they are here to stay. However, does that mean that they do not have consequences on the majority of the children that play them? Let’s break down the issue to possible come to the root of the issue.
List of Pros of Violent Video Games
1. Like many forms of violent media one of the base line arguments is that it allows those that play it to exercise their anger and frustrations in a safe and controlled environment. Unlike other forms of violent media such as books and movies video games allow the person to directly effect and interact with the medium. Video games such as Call of Duty consist solely of running around and shoot opponents with usually a loose story to justify the mechanic. With the many sequels coming out yearly these franchises show no signs of letting up or stopping.
2. As they are massively successful one would think that violent crime would be on the rise. However, statistics show that despite the increasing numbers of this bland, shallow, overly used gimmick of a game franchise selling out every year; youth crime is at an all-time low. This correlates with the above mentioned belief.
3. Additionally like many other forms of violent media the vast majority of kids know the difference between fiction and reality. While running around, stealing cars, killing pedestrians, etc. are acceptable behavior within the confines of Grand Theft Auto children know that it is not decent behavior in the real world. Despite what a lot of companies and many adults like to think children are not idiots. While they are impressionable they are on average capable of distinguishing between reality and fantasy. Otherwise we would have millions of children running around jumping off of buildings thinking they are Superman or injuring themselves trying to cram there feet into glass slippers.
List of Cons of Violent Video Games
1. On the other foot there is the argument that violent video games do have negative effects on children. For example some studies have shown that children who often play violent video games are less likely to support non-violent options in a conflict. These along with children that play a lot of violent video games also tend to be more prone to aggressive behavior.
2. Additionally for individuals that have a hard time distinguishing between fantasy and reality these games can be gateways towards already violent prone behavior. Overall children who play violent video games on average tend to be more aggressive than children their own age who don’t play these games.
Overall there is no direct link between violent media and violent behavior. This is especially true with video games. While there have been many studies that show association between violent video games and violent individuals it is almost impossible to differentiate if the violent individuals are drawn to the games or if the games play a factor in the individuals’ behavior. This coupled with other forms of violent media such as movies and television shows effecting individuals that watch them. There is some evidence that violent video games do boost aggressive attitudes but unfortunately there is a lot of external factors that cannot be eliminated 100% from many of these studies. This combined with many of the studies being funded by and run by groups with a specific agenda against video games taints any results that the studies may discover. Many of these groups site school shootings as proof that violent video games play into these tragic events. However, in many of the school shootings video games play a small if nonexistent part into the shooters psychosis.
As mentioned above this tied to the violent prone individuals being drawn to the violent medium, in general, make it impossible to draw any conclusions from these individuals. Overall when it comes to children their parents play the biggest part of their lives. As a parent you are directly responsible for the actions of your child, however, there is very little a parent can do in the case of mental issue. If a child has or potentially has a mental issue only proper medical care can effectively help them. Sadly, in most cases it becomes apparent too late. For example, there is the incident in Wisconsin where two twelve year old girls attempted to kill another child in the hopes of become closer to the fictional character Slenderman. While this does not tie directly into video games it does show that there is inherent violence in anyone regardless of influence. While video games and other violent media may inspire someone towards specific acts of violence this does not prove that they would not otherwise have engaged in said acts of violence. Violence happens regardless of how it is depicted, does this mean that violent video games do or don’t affect these behaviors? The jury is out.