Cedar Crest College newspaper since 1923
Melody Nyoni, Staff Writer
There has always been a debate on the correlation of video games to violent behavior in children, teens, and sometimes adults, but teens are the most impressionable. Research studies continue to be carried out in order to determine if the actions on screen translate to real-world violence.
The argument against some video games is that they desensitize the player to violence to the point that there is no difficulty in enacting their behavior in the game. It has gained a lot of ground in the face of increasing acts of violence by teenagers and young adults who have a history of playing violent games.
I understand that argument, but I do not agree that video games are the primary cause of the violence displayed. Many components have to come together to induce the unleashing of violence. If anything, video games are just a small piece of the puzzle.
There are many social and environmental factors that get sidelined when people try to explain the senseless violence perpetrated by these young people. Most often ignored is that we all possess the ability to determine for ourselves how we would like to act, without outside influences, knowing fully the difference between right and wrong.
Violence is portrayed in multiple forms of media. Movies, music, music videos, television shows, and novels all show violence and it trickles down to all the subdivisions of individual genres. There’s also violence all around us in everyday life, namely depictions of war and bloody riots all across the world. We are always exposed to violent imagery which can desensitize us just as well.
The problems with video games arise if a teenager was to try and steal a car, then heroically evade the police just as their character did in Grand Theft Auto. The same exact incident can occur after watching the exploits of such a character on film; a character who is most likely charismatic, very intelligent, and able to outsmart law enforcement while spouting all the cool lines that quickly become catchphrases.
It can also occur after inspiration has been derived from one of the other mediums listed above. The simple fact is violence and the will to act violently toward others has nothing to do with video games. It has more to do with the perpetrator, who decided against all odds to imitate the acts of a fictional creation, which is not human and therefore has no concept of motion or even emotions, well except for virulent anger.
Children and adults are different in that it’s easier for adults to understand the differences between fiction and reality, whereas there might be confusion for children. By the time one becomes a teenager, though, that confusion has significantly lessened. I’m by no means an expert in adolescent psychology, but I remember understanding that difference as a teenager.
Besides, if video games were the main inspiration, responsibility of managing how children and teenagers relate to violence lies squarely on the shoulders of their parents. Most teenagers are minors who are under the direct jurisdiction of their adult guardians.
With this authority, parents have a responsibility to teach their children about the world they live in. Mass media does not reflect a true image of that and therefore should not act as a surrogate to how kids learn about the world.
When parents decide to buy their teenagers the latest video game console with the hottest new ‘action-packed’ game, they should determine if their child understands that what is in those games is not real. Furthermore, they should also supervise their game playing.
The perpetration of violence by young people is almost always shocking. So people look for explanations for the motive, but video games is not the only explanation.