"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone."

~Neale Donald Walsch~

Monday, 6 April 2015

Do video games make you violent?

Just this week one of my students presented a talk about video game violence. For some reason it has been mulling around in my head all week. I am a parent like millions of others in the world and I am trying to guide my kids through this scary crazy world like anyone else. Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who won't let me them play 'those' games and it's not that I don't want my kids to fit in, it's that I strongly feel that these games are not giving benefit to my children in their childhood and as I love them dearly I wouldn't want to expose them to violence unnecessarily. However I shouldn't base my views on a hunch. I think I need to do a little research.

There has been some research to suggest that there are some real benefits for kids when they play video games. You only have to listen to Daphne Bavelier's TED talk on how the brain can be retrained by video games. Randy Dotinga from CBS also supports the idea that there can be some benefits from playing video games.  It can assist with concentration, problems solving, attention to name a few. However I just can't ignore the fact that there are alternate views to this topic. A Singaporean study found that children who play video games for long periods are more aggressive. There has been strong evidence to suggest that many of the school shootings in the USA are linked to students who have been bullied and isolated and have played violent video games before they committed the crime. It seems that there is a desensitization to these games and students blur the physical world to the make believe world of the game. 

There was great discussion in the class about what age should kids play these games. Two students who had children aged 7 and 5 let their kids play Grand Theft Auto 5 and Call of Duty. Their main stipulation was that they could play Grand Theft Auto with their dad but they weren't allowed to go into the strip club. I was a bit taken aback as I know these games have adult ratings. However these parents said that their kids know it's just a game. I argued differently and we agreed to disagree but it's was very obvious to me that in the class there were very different views about who can play the games, at what age and whether or not there are aspects of the game that are socially deplorable or just seen in the realm of 'pretend'. 

I found these two articles quite helpful and insightful.  

  • Mark Dapin states that video games can help boys understand manhood. Lydiard also
    Image @ Negative Effects of Video games
    states that "I know if I play a war game, I can't go shooting people on the street," says Lydiard, "because, first of all, I'm not a soldier. If I'm playing a soldier in a game, it's not like I'm going to go down to Kmart and buy an M-16 - which I can't - put on an undetectable outfit, hide up in the bushes and then ambush a bunch of pedestrians. It's ridiculous to think a normal person would think that's something they should do after playing a game."
  • Tim Biggs goes as far as saying that Video game violence and the over sexualisation of women can lead to domestic violence. 
Both these writer's present a view I am familiar with and adhere to however I know that perhaps my conservative views are not always shared by those around me. I suppose all things need to be done in moderation and playing video games 12 hours a day is not moderation. Kids need to play video games because it is a normal part of their own generational culture and can provide an outlet for fun and play but for now I want to steer my kids away from violent video games to ones where there is more creativity involved. 


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