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Violent Video Games Might Be to Blame for Violent Behavior

Violent Video Games Might Be to Blame for Violent Behavior Is Media Violence a Problem? , 2010 ————————————————- Top of Form Bottom of Form Mark and Keisha Hoerrner, “Video Game Violence,” Children’s Voice, vol.15, January/February 2006.Copyright © 2006 Child Welfare League of America.

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All Rights Reserved. Reproduced by permission. Mark Hoerrner is a writer and the author of several articles on the media’s effect on children. Keisha Hoerrner is department chair of Kennesaw State University’s First-Year Programs and a researcher who specializes in children and media issues.

While many parents scoff at letting their children watch violent movies, they often consent to buying violent video games for their teenagers without checking the industry ratings. Researchers contend that a link exists between violent video games and real-life violence in teenagers and young adults. Violent images don’t necessarily create violent children, but gamers learn that violence is an accepted means to solve problems, and they perfect shooting skills as though they were handling real weapons.

Even though games can teach children valuable coordination skills, parents and caregivers need to make sure that their children only view age-appropriate content and are made aware of the difference between on-screen actions and socially acceptable behavior in the real world. Thomas has a 21-inch flat-screen monitor and an optimized computer with a 4 GHZ processing speed. His hard drive is fast and large; he’s packed in close to three gigabytes of RAM and has a video card with dual 512K processors. It’s all about speed and graphical processing. He’s jacked in to a high-speed Internet connection, and he’s off and running.

Thomas isn’t a programmer or a network engineer, though he’s considering that as a possibility for the future. He doesn’t have to worry about that now, though—he’s only 13 years old and has a long time to make up his mind about a career. For now, he’s content with the fact that in the next three hours, he’ll commit 147 felonies including aggravated assault, murder, attempted murder, robbery, arson, burglary, conspiracy, assault with a deadly weapon, drug trafficking, and auto theft while violating just about every section of the RICO Act, the nation’s nti-organized crime law. He’ll even be so brazen as to gun down bystanders and police officers and will personally beat someone to death with a golf club. All without ever leaving his room. ————————————————- A Link to Violent Behavior Retired Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a former [U. S. ] Army Ranger and tactical trainer, asserts that video games are actively training children to kill. Learning, he says, happens all the time, especially during active play.

The subject of that active play, however, can be negative or positive. Grossman has authored two books on the connection between violent media and actual violence. He argues that children learn to use weapons and become sharpshooters through simulated games the same way soldiers use simulations to improve their shooting precision. Just as children can improve their phonics withLearn to Read with Winnie the Pooh, they can learn to shoot with deadly accuracy playing Doom, Splinter Cell, Hitman, and other first-person shooter games.

Grossman has been a consultant to a number of school systems following deadly shooting incidents, assisting with grief counseling and understanding what brings children from what should be a carefree time in their lives to the point of committing multiple murders. In his book, Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill[: A Call to Action Against TV, Movie & Video Game Violence], Grossman says that in 1997’s high school shooting in Paducah, Kentucky, the 14-year-old who opened fire on a before-school prayer group landed eight out of eight shots on eight different targets.

Five of those were head shots [gunshot wounds to the head]. According to the FBI, in shootouts less than three meters from their targets, trained law enforcement officers land, on average, one out of five shots—these are trained officers who are familiar with their weapons. The teenage shooter had never held a real gun before his shooting rampage, Grossman says. He had, however, spent long hours playing first-person shooter games that simulated killing with the same weapon he used that morning.

Grossman, who now travels the country talking to police departments and educators, asserts that the combination of playing these games and watching violent movies taught the youth how to load, actively target, and shoot as if he had been watching an instructional video. ————————————————- Making Right or Wrong Choices Unlike watching a video or television show, a child is actively making choices and weighing options when playing video games. He or she is rewarded for certain behaviors, which, depending on the game, may range from solving a puzzle to opening fire on a group of bystanders. In a violent video game, you rehearse the entire aggression sequence from beginning to end,” says mediaviolence researcher Craig [A. ] Anderson, chair of Iowa State University’s Department of Psychology. “You have to be vigilant, looking for enemies, looking for potential threats; you have to decide how to deal with the threat, what weapon to use, and how to use it; and then you take physical action to behave aggressively within the game. It’s society, not science, that must decide how to deal with the negative effects of violent videogames.

We have considerable evidence these games cause violent behavior,” Anderson says, pointing to hundreds of scientific studies on video games, and more than 3,000 on the effects of other violent media, that he says all suggest a causal link between violent behavior and the consumption of violent content. This isn’t an overt link, he cautions—a child isn’t likely to go out and commit a major felony after playing a violentgame for an hour—but children will act more aggressively and show more negative social action, such as the intent to do violence to another person, over time. ———————————————— Positive Aspects of Video Games Anderson is quick to note, however, that games have positive aspects. He bought his son a copy of the flight simulator game Flight Unlimited and a realistic joystick and foot pedal. His son spent considerable time learning to fly, which paid off when the child went to a NASA summer camp and was assigned the role of pilot on a space shuttle mission simulator. Anderson’s son was able to land the craft on the first try, something camp organizers said had never been done.

Anderson credits the flight simulator as the catalyst for helping his son develop the necessary skills. In a study at the University of California, Santa Barbara, diabetic children who received a video gameshowing them how to better manage their illness had improved blood sugar control and fewer emergency room visits. “Video games are great teachers and great motivators,” Anderson says, “but they can be misused. It’s society, not science, that must decide how to deal with the negative effects of violent videogames. To this end, the video game industry helped create the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) to develop a system of ratings for video games to define content for parents and allow them to make informed purchasing decisions. ESRB ratings include six age-based rating symbols, ranging from “EC-Early Childhood” to “AO-Adults Only,” and more than 30 content descriptors (such as “Mild Violence,” “IntenseViolence,” “Sexual Violence,” “Partial Nudity,” “Drug Reference,” and “Simulated Gambling”) that indicate elements in a game that may have triggered a particular rating or may be of interest or concern to the buyer.

Full Text:  COPYRIGHT 2010 Greenhaven Press, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. Source Citation: “Violent Video Games Might Be to Blame for Violent Behavior. ” Is Media Violence a Problem? Stefan Kiesbye. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2010. At Issue. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 31 Oct. 2010. Document URL http://ic. galegroup. com/ic/ovic/ViewpointsDetailsPage/ViewpointsDetailsWindow? displayGroupName=Viewpoints&prodId=OVIC&action=e&windowstate=normal&catId=&documentId=GALE%7CEJ3010187219&mode=view&userGroupName=lemo21048&jsid=dbc3cbe328c3b8eaa54c12c32c45bb32 Gale Document Number: GALE|EJ3010187219

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