Violent video games: Why experts want more research and what parents can do


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  • VIDAR Murray, UT
    April 19, 2013 10:48 a.m.

    In the 50’s they blamed comic books, in the 60’s they blamed television, in the 70’s they blamed movies, in the 80’s they blamed music (those hidden messages when a record is played backwards) now they blame video games.
    Maybe we need to accept that as a country we are very violent, since the 1950’s how many wars and police actions have we been involved in?
    We expect our young men to not be violent; until we want them to go to war; and then we want them to kill for questionable reasons, or stand in the middle of a city, and let people take pot shots at them, and tell them they cannot fight back, or we will put them in prison. Then when they come home, and suffer from PSTD and other ills, we do little to help them transition.
    And we fail to fund mental health treatment, for those who actually are at risk to be violent.
    Maybe we need to blame ourselves.

  • andyjaggy American Fork, UT
    April 18, 2013 3:24 p.m.

    I don't know where I stand on the issue. I haven't played a violent video game in probably 10 years.

    However I did play them extensively in high school and my first few years of college. They never increased any violent tendencies in me, nor did they desensitize me to violence and killing. In fact I remember accidentally running over a cat one night on my way home from a friends house (where we had been playing video games.) I balled on my way home because I had killed a living creature. I'm sorry the desensitizing argument doesn't really work for me.

    We need parents who are more involved in their kids lives. We need better services for mental health, most insurance plans are a joke when it comes to mental health coverage. Of course if we try to force insurance companies to do anything we have outrage from the right... so I guess we are just out of luck.

  • Crank santaquin, UT
    April 16, 2013 12:55 p.m.

    Excellent post! Now we are talking!

  • Crank santaquin, UT
    April 16, 2013 12:44 p.m.

    Casey See,
    What caused teens to rape before easy access to pornography? Where did those teens get those ideas? Pornography can effect the mind, but this is primarily due to the aspects of addiction. As stated many times over here; someone who seemingly responds so adversely to media... Well, they were lost whether or not they played the games, watched the movie, listened to the rap music. (Haven't heard the 'rap music' wedge for while?) No one pushes the 'media makes kids violent' more than the NRA their hired politicians and their supporters? What could be the motivation there?

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    April 16, 2013 11:10 a.m.

    Casey See said: "In the last three weeks we have seen two different examples of young boys raping uncontious young women at house parties, These young men bragged about what they did and took pictures of them doing it. Where did they get these ideas?"

    This is tied to "Sports Builds Character" NOT video games and movies, try and stay on topic, as date rape/rape or legitimate rape is NOT a new with high school/college/pro athletes.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    April 16, 2013 5:14 a.m.

    Knowing a little something about research, when an ideologically driven researcher say's that "more research needs to be done", what they are often really saying is "well, a lot of research has been done, but the results have come back negative, so I'd like to do more research until I get one positive so that I can maintain my point of view". I suspect that is what is really going on with the long standing video game violence debate. Are video games are even a factor in violent outbursts, even when combined with other "risk factors"? I guess my first question would be, will those "other risk factors" be enough to account for the violence alone, or do violent games push those factors over the edge???

    I suspect that many of the puritans who oppose violent video games do so for more ideological reasons than empirical ones. In other words, they are riding the band wagon of causalities of violence to make their position legitimate...but they really just oppose video games as a general behavior, rather than as a reaction to anything empirical. We should spend less time trying to control one another.

  • Kings Court Alpine, UT
    April 16, 2013 1:04 a.m.

    I would hope they also include Japanese people in this study. The Japanese play more hours of violent video games than Americans, yet their violent crimes rate are among the lowest in the world. Part of their low homicide rate is due to a lack of access to lethal weapons in Japan, yet even their regular crime rates are low. Is it the water? Is it their religious beliefs? Something besides violent entertainment is at work here.

  • Eric Samuelsen Provo, UT
    April 15, 2013 4:59 p.m.

    Look, there is a direct statistical correlation between the popularity of violent FPS games and a REDUCTION in violence. Americans play, in general, fewer violent games and for a shorter period of time than youth in Europe, where rates of violence are negligible. Why just assume that playing these games is negative? It makes sense to me that they're cathartic.

  • Tators Hyrum, UT
    April 15, 2013 1:02 p.m.

    Some commenters mention that these games are just fantasy. But the real fantasy is in the minds of those who actually believe that watching and participating in lucid acts of very detailed and graphic violence over and over again has no negative effects. Some commenters are so delusional as to propose that there is actually a positive effect. There is no common sense in that assertion at all. None. The only "studies" showing otherwise were sponsored by the gaming industry to get whatever results they were looking for. Very similar to earlier studies by the tobacco industry that told us their studies showed no negative effects of smoking.

    It's not rocket science to see and understand the direct correlation between being repeatedly exposed to something and the subsequent desensitizing that then takes place. It's just common sense.

    There are numerous correlations made by studies of prisoners in prison for violent crimes in society and their admitted exposure to pornography and violent video games. It then turns into a no-brainer... except for those already hooked on such things and so then wanting to rationalize and justify their doing so.

  • Casey See FLOWER MOUND, TX
    April 13, 2013 11:50 a.m.

    In the last three weeks we have seen two different examples of young boys raping uncontious young women at house parties, with at least one of the girls committing suicide. These young men bragged about what they did and took pictures of them doing it. Where did they get these ideas? We aren't told, but recent studies indicate that a majority of young teen boys, and many teen girls are watching pornography. I suspect that they were acting out these porno flicks that they saw. They truly didn't see (at the time) anything really wrong, because they were desensitized by the porno.

    For those who think that violent movies and games won't affect someone, we know that they do raize agression and many who and not fully mature mentally, they will act out fantasy as if real life. Just as pornos affects a person's view on sex the same can be said with violence.

  • Arm of Orion Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 12, 2013 8:33 p.m.

    Nan and others if you look at the blog I suggested, which is Show me the Science, you would see several unbiased studies that state the opposite. These studies mention that video games played no more than 3 hours a day but as little as one helps the player become more resilient to the problems that face them in life. In fact I suggest you google the game RE:Mission and see the beneficial impact that it had.

    As a piece of anecdotal evidence I learned to read quickly and retain the information by playing the game The Legend of Zelda the Ocarina of Time. That game had no speaking parts and to solve the puzzles I had to memorize the information given through text, oftentimes much earlier in game. Video games helped me become an avid reader. In fact to this day I have read over 100 new books, most of which on my own volition. These books have ranged from classics like Dante's Inferno and A Christmas Carol to Brandon Sanderson's Way of Kings. Video games are not bad. They are certainly categorically better than just watching T.V

  • wer South Jordan, UT
    April 12, 2013 8:21 p.m.

    As long as any product or service generates gigantic sums of revenue, the problem isn't just that it should be banned or controlled by federal government decrees, the problem is mostly due to those who buy it. This is evidence of a general downward spiral of morals, values, and personal responsibility.

    Given that many children who buy or use violent video games or attend PG-13 movies, the question needs to be answered: who is really running the household? The kids or the parents?

  • mattrick78 Cedar City, UT
    April 12, 2013 7:55 p.m.

    I don't need to wait for the research. Thank you.

  • Nan BW ELder, CO
    April 12, 2013 11:13 a.m.

    I am 100% sure there are much better ways for anyone to spend his/her time than violent video games. Why waste life engaged in something that is of no benefit? There is no way that it can boost the right kind of confidence or relieve pent up emotions or other bogus excuses. All of us should be doing that which is helpful to others or at least beneficial for our own minds and bodies. There are thousands of better ways to spend "spare" time!

  • jeanie orem, UT
    April 12, 2013 7:57 a.m.

    Aleksjensen - I understand why a 40+ year old mom of 3 teenage boys would seem out of touch to a 17 year old. That's ok. You lack the experience that comes with being responsible for the well- being of others.

    BTW - I enjoy watching my sons play Mindcraft. It is an amazingly creative game. The chickens crack me up. Admitedly, I also endulge in a somewhat violent game myself and really enjoy it......shooting angry birds at buildings full of green pigs is one of my favorite pastimes. I am actually better than my own 17 year old son. :)

  • Harmony Tooele, UT
    April 11, 2013 11:32 p.m.

    Aleksjensen, make sure to back up your information. Where do you get your "most kids" from? I know I'm not one of those "most kids." I know all I get out of those "point and shoot" video games is a headache and a bad temper.
    Happy Valley Heretic, the Bible might have those images in there, but it teaches good lessons and family values. What good lesson comes from a graphic video game? And what about the younger kids who are exposed to these video games and do not yet fully understand the difference between reality and fantasy? They cannot be written off simply because they aren't old enough to play such games. They see it as well.

  • Aleksjensen elkins, AR
    April 11, 2013 5:36 p.m.

    Jeanie, you are actually sounding like more and more out of touch with each new comment. Most kids, for instance, get more confident and proud when they play these aggressive and competitive games. I personally have something to do with my friends that we ALL find enjoyable and challenging! Maybe its because I'm only 17, but it seems harmless to me. I can only assume you also hate dubstep for being to random, TV for being to violent, and Minecraft for being to strange.

  • Harmony Tooele, UT
    April 11, 2013 11:24 a.m.

    Desensitizing or otherwise, I still wouldn't want my child to play them. What is it teaching people? That violence is socially acceptable as long as you're holding a controller? I would think that a society that claims to promote family values wouldn't want the rising generation to think things like this. How much longer before our toddlers are learning about how to kill zombies on some graphic video game? See you later, "child innocence." Have fun with "social interaction." You two might like each other.

  • Arm of Orion Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 11, 2013 10:40 a.m.

    People google the blog Show me the Science by Dr. Jane McGonigal. Then read the studies and then come back and talk about violent video games.

  • Happy Valley Heretic Orem, UT
    April 11, 2013 10:12 a.m.

    I would argue the games are a reflection of American society.
    How many years has American been at war, or causing a war, or secretly supporting wars with weapons and training?

    When people read the Bible as a school book, were they not exposed to violent imagery, gruesome descriptions of torture, rape and worse?

    I agree with the poster who said he and his can actually tell the difference between reality and fantasy.
    I can watch and play violent games/movies without recoil, yet when the news shows actual acts of violence around the world, I emotionally feel it. When I see blood even from minor accidents it turns my stomach.

    How can this be?
    Because one does not effect the other, except in broken minds.

    With millions of kids playing these for over twenty years now, if there was a connection, the nation would be a bloodbath by now, it isn't.

  • jeanie orem, UT
    April 11, 2013 7:44 a.m.

    What you exposes yourself to repeatedly has an effect on you. This is obvious. The idea that it helps release pent up aggression is laughable. The idea that it is relaxing and "enjoyable" to watch or participate in violence for entertainment, even if you can distinguish reality from pretend, is warped.

    "Know what your kid is doing" goes a long way. We don't have violent games in our home, but I can't control what happens in my child's friend's home - no matter how clear I am with parents. kIds are not always forthcoming and some parents have different ideas about what constitutes violence.

    Yes, as parents we need to do our part, but we are also a member of a larger society that makes decisions about what is culturally acceptable. It is no longer culturally acceptable to smoke where it used to be seen as hip and even elegant. Maybe with time and effort gratuitous violence will happily suffer the same fate - and we will view people who choose to play "horrifically violent" games the same way we view people who choose to smoke.

  • Fibby1123 Salt Lake City, UT
    April 10, 2013 11:28 p.m.

    jeanie: "Not every one that plays violent video games will act out violently in real life, but the percent of people making violent choices goes up as well."

    Violent crimes have actually gone down as video games became more popular. On the first page of this article, it says, "Instead, they focus on "big picture" trends that show Americans quadrupling their inflation-adjusted spending on video games over the past 20 years at precisely the same time that violent crimes are falling to historic lows."

    Star Bright: "That and the violent movies that are produced for out youth, and even if rated 14 and older, who exactly gets hooked on these movies and video games?
    The Youth!"

    It isn't the fault of the media that children have access to violent media. It's the fault of the parent or guardian. Know what your kid is doing!

    BYUalum: "The fact that these mass murders can be traced to violent video games has not been covered much by the main stream media."

    The possibility (NOT 'fact') HAS been discussed. And there is no FACT that murders can be traced to violent media. Did you even read the article?

  • jeanie orem, UT
    April 10, 2013 3:03 p.m.

    "Pent up violence"? This is a myth, like pent up anger.
    What is so great about violence that we need to experience it hours a day?

  • Sleiher Phoenix, AZ
    April 10, 2013 2:33 p.m.

    "And what parents can do"

    Is this seriously a question? You are the parent, therefore in charge or at least you should be, of the games your child/teen is purchasing and playing. Assert yourself! Simply do not let your child buy and play these violent games. Quit trying to be the "cool" parent and your teens BFF, they have friends for that. Step up and make it clear that violent games won't be tolerated in your home, and that they are not allowed to play them at their friends homes either. When and if your hold breaks these rules then there are consequences. Teach your child by example, which means you as parents don't play those games. I take the time to get to know the parents of the children my kids play with and I discuss with them what is acceptable (video games, movies, internet etc) for my child to watch or play while in their care and they express the same to me. Please quit blaming the tv and video game companies, it's your family, take responsibility for what happens in your own home

  • SlopJ30 St Louis, MO
    April 10, 2013 2:07 p.m.

    It's never a good idea to ban or heavily restrict something based on the possible actions of a few "at risk" individuals. I have no problem with ratings sytems (although I would debate their effectiveness) or requiring parental consent to purchase certain games, but frankly I have no problem with my son playing horrifically violent games, which he does all the time. He's not "at risk" in any identifiable way, and most importantly, he . . wait for it . . actually has a grip on the difference between fantasy and reality.

    I had this debate myself as a teen when I started watching violent movies ("Robocop," "Re-Animator," etc). I kept hearing "you'll become desensitized . . you'll become desensitized." I started wondering if that were true. Then one night I saw a horrific hockey injury (a slit throat) and felt physically ill I was so disturbed. Oddly enough, I was kind of comforted that I felt that way, because it assured me that I could enjoy violent movies while still reacting appropriately to real violence. For 99.9% of us, there's zero reason to start restricting what games we play or movies we watch.

  • Aleksjensen elkins, AR
    April 10, 2013 9:38 a.m.

    It seems obvious to me that violence has gone DOWN since we got these new video games, they are simply a stress reliever. Nothing more. You can use them to get rid of your pent up violence, the people who DO go crazy and kill people were probably crazy to start with! Plus a little more aggression isn't a really a bad thing.

  • BYUalum South Jordan, UT
    April 9, 2013 4:07 p.m.

    With all the push from government to ban guns, why is this not the debate? No brainer, I would say! Violent video games played over and over desensitizes anyone playing them. The same is true of violent killings and mass destruction coming out of Hollywood. Reality and fantasy become one. The fact that these mass murders can be traced to violent video games has not been covered much by the main stream media.

    The talking points are of taking guns away from ordinary citizens who are protected by the Second Amendment to be able to have arms. That would take away our right to defend ourselves against any aggressor, including government! Taking away guns from citizens will not stop the violence from people obsessed to kill. It would instead make all of us more vulnerable in every way.

  • jeanie orem, UT
    April 9, 2013 3:13 p.m.

    It seems to me that the gaming industry is following the big tobacco companies many years ago in denying that their product has very bad consequences. Not everyone who smoked got cancer, but the chances of cancer went up dramatically. Not every one that plays violent video games will act out violently in real life, but the percent of people making violent choices goes up as well. This seems to be a no-brainer. I guess we need studies to prove the obvious so the people who justify virtual violence as harmless entertainment will have less of a leg to stand on?

  • Star Bright Salt Lake City, Ut
    April 9, 2013 12:59 p.m.

    These violent video games are the games that soldiers play to help make them immune to killing women and children. I wonder why the governmnet is not mentioning the role they have in making our youth more violent?
    That and the violent movies that are produced for out youth, and even if rated 14 and older, who exactly gets hooked on these movies and video games?
    The Youth!