Video Games and Violent Behavior

It is a common belief that violent media affects the kids. But, in some cases, it is just a game. Children who see violent adults are likely to follow what they see if they face disappointment. Violent video games can teach aggressive attitudes effectively. The research was not able to relate perpetrating violent acts and playing violent video games. Children who play these video games are just playing.

Eight months after Adam Lanza killed 26 people in Sandy Hook Elementary School, investigator Michael Mudry visited Lanza’s home and discovered a Garmin GPS unit. According to the GPS records, Lanza drove to the same location nine times from April to June 2012.

Mudry went to the place and discovered that Lanza frequently went to the suburban shopping center to play the same arcade game, over and over again for at least 8 hours each time. Witnesses told Mudry that Lanza would hit himself repeated uncontrollably.

Police found Lanza’s computer drive and discovered information about Columbine killers, weapons magazine capacities, list of TNT ingredients, and copies of violent movies Rampage and Bloody Wednesday. Also, Lanza owned action and fighting games like Grand Theft Auto, Dead or Alive, or Call of Duty.

But, these games were not the games that Lanza played in the shopping center. Lanza played Dance Dance Revolution. This surprised investigators and the public, who believe that violent video games caused Lanza to become a killer.

The Lanza story proved that research had not found any reliable link between committing actual violence and playing violent video games. But, this does not mean that these video games do not have any effect on the players. It has, but it is not what people want to believe.

The History of Worry over Violent Media

During the Victorian era, clergymen, educators, and taste makers criticized novels and magazines which showed violence and sex. Ralph Waldo Emerson was one of those authors who complained about this kind of media. But, Nathaniel Hawthorne loved them. In the 20th century, the criticism grew even more.

During the 1960s, Albert Bandura, a Stanford University psychologist, conducted experimental studies that concluded that kids must have limited access to social media. But, according to critic Gerard Jones, researchers often mistake kid’s natural competitiveness, temporary aggression, or discomfort for aggression as violence potential.

Analyzing the Data

Recent studies were not able to prove that violent video games result in real violence. From 1994 to 2010, violent youthful offenders decreased in number, even though there is a proliferation of violent video games.

In 2011, the group of A. Scott Cunningham analyzed the sales of video games between 2004 and 2008. It found out that as the sales of violent games increase, violent crimes decrease. Thus, they concluded that violent people who played violent video games were able to offset any negative behavior they had.

But, according to psychologist Douglas A. Gentile, repetitive actions can affect the brain. Thus, if people practice aggressive methods of reacting, feeling, and thinking, they get better at handling aggression. In 2008, Gentile, with his father J. Ronald Gentile, also a psychologist, discovered that kids and youths who played violent games were able to report aggressive behaviors and cognition. The father and son tandem concluded that violent video games teach people about aggression.


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