Violent video games and their effect on children…this has been a long ongoing debate and it is as heated as ever. Especially now that President Barak Obama has requested congress grant $10 million dollars to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention to research the effects these games have on minors. Many gamers are up in arms over this, particularly the ones over the specified age limit. Fingers have been pointed to bad parenting, the NRA and their narrow minded views and daily violence on the news as being the real causes for violent children. Understandably people are worried about their freedom to chose and play whatever game they would like without jumping through hoops to get it. This raises many questions and concerns. Will this start a witch hunt or will it do what it is meant to do, find the reasoning behind violent and dangerous kids?
This reaction is all too familiar after a school shooting in the United States. April 20th 1999 is when the Columbine High School massacre occurred. Just as with the most recent shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, which has sparked this new interest in violence in the media, everyone wanted to know who was to blame? How could children do this to other children? It is unnatural! Scrutiny came over violent video games, music with violent lyrics, cartoon series and movies. Marilyn Manson, Eminem, Korn, The Simpson, South Park, Unreal Tournament, Silent Hill and Counterstrike were among the suspects. Once everyone had calmed to a mild panic and more light was shed on the shooters, did some people take off their blinkers and have a closer look at their own communities and homes. Discussions started centering around bullying and discrimination against “the different ones” in school. The country’s lax gun laws also came under fire but not much in comparison to the usual suspects. So now what has changed since then? After all the discussions, the finger pointing, protests and “studies” it appears very little has changed since 1999. Which begs the question that after this $10 million research will we have the answer the majority is hoping for? Will we have the honest findings released? Or will this $10 million disappear with the memory of this latest shooting?
I am in agreement with some journalists that it doesn’t hurt to know more. Knowledge is power. However the main concern is who has that power and what will they do with it? Keeping in mind $10 million is quite an insignificant sum when the American Government spends billions per day. So is the government taking this research seriously? Do they want to really find out why this violence is happening or is it all just a scapegoat so it appears that every precaution was taken? Besides setting aside this violent game research fund, Obama is also pushing back with new firearm restrictions. This in my opinion is long overdue from the U.S. government. This renewed interest in U.S.A.’s gun laws won’t make the NRA (National Rifle Association) very happy. They have been renowned for their propaganda and extremist points of view that have few real facts backing them. For a good chuckle and a shocking revelation on how some of these people think and act check out “Piers Morgan Gun Debate with Alex Jones” on Youtube. The NRA held a press conference after word of Obama’s gun law plans hit the public. They were pushing the idea that video games are to blame and not guns, stating “violent video games cause violence and not the actual weapons that are used for the crime.” That statement makes a little sense as the NRA’s reasoning on softer gun laws and why average citizens need semi-automatic weapons.
They mentioned two game titles as examples that they believe are to blame, Slaughterhouse and Mortal Kombat. These games are over 10 years old and don’t feature many if any guns. They did conveniently leave out modern military shooter games like Call of Duty and Battlefield. I am sure everyone can draw their own conclusions from that. To top it off the NRA released an iPhone Shooter App shortly after blaming games for the shooting. http://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2013/01/14/nra-releases-iphone-shooter-after-blaming-video-games-for-school-shootings/
So while the NRA and the Government are lashing it out there is also the general public who want their say. After reading numerous articles online, all of which were stock standard pieces handing out the facts with little or no opinion on the matter, I decided to read some of the comments. While entertaining for the most part there was a lot of passion and honesty in some of the responses. They pointed out what most of us are thinking. Bad parenting was high on the list of real reasons behind violent children.
“I’m a video gamer. I love violent, gory video games and I have played them since I was 8 years old. I am also a pacifist, a vegan, and an advocate for world peace. Games aren’t reality – but parents aren’t teaching their kids about reality. EVERYTHING is a bad influence when there is no parental guidance.”
“Violence in people isn’t because of video games or movies it’s on how they were raised and what they do with life. I’ve played violent games of all sorts but I’m not going around crazy trying to kill people, why because I was well raised and I understand the difference between right and wrong, reality and fiction.”
Society in the 70’s blamed Rock ‘n Roll music for the delinquency of the youth. We have blamed comic books in the 80’s for violence. If you play heavy metal backwards the devil will speak to you and tell you to kill. Dungeons and Dragons was claimed to be devil worship. As the different mediums of entertainment have evolved so have people’s beliefs in what creates a monster. I believe research does need to happen across the board along with stricter gun laws but there is a point where you have got to start wondering why people are asking the same question over and over with the results being inconclusive and everything forgotten until the next massacre. Games, movies and albums have age restrictions for a reason. If you are buying your child adult content then there is no one to blame but yourself if they swear and act out. If your child is going behind your back to get to these restricted items then you have bigger problems than a video game.
The sad truth is no one wants to take responsibility for their actions anymore, blaming someone or something else is far easier. I blame the Government for not having stricter laws and better security. I blame the video games and movies that my child plays and watches for being irresponsible with their content. I blame the kid that bullies my child and the parents who let him or her get away with it. You are responsible for your own actions and of your child’s until they become an adult. What they do is a reflection on how they were raised and what they got away with. Once more people realize that then and only then can we begin to uncover why children hurt and kill.