Violent Video Games' Effect on Youth Violence

Topics: Video game, Video game controversy, Crime Pages: 5 (1949 words) Published: August 5, 2013
Halo, Call of Duty, and Gears of War are just three of many grossly popular video games today, and they have one main thing in common: violence. Whether one is shooting down Nazi soldiers on the beaches of Normandy or sawing apart Locust drones on the planet Sera with his or her lancer, one is engaging in extremely violent video-game action, and probably having a lot of fun doing so. With the rapid growth of intensely violent games, parents and politicians across the nation have begun to protest against violence in video games and have even gone as far as to say it is the cause of violence in America’s youth. Is this really true? Are video games the problem? Just like the rock and roll movement of the 1950’s being blamed for youth delinquency, society seems to always find a scapegoat for these kinds of social issues. Similarly, violent video games are just a scapegoat, and they do not contribute to the violence in our youth today.

My first point is one that is always overlooked when politicians and parents across the nation are protesting against video game violence. If violent video games are the cause of our youth’s violent behavior, how is it that there are millions of children and young adults out there in our nation who play these games but are not shooting up movie theaters and robbing convenience stores? Erik Kain in his online article “The Truth About Video Games and Gun Violence” states that “to hold up a few sensational examples as causal evidence between violent games and violent acts ignores the millions of other young men and women who play violent video games and never go on a shooting spree in real life” (Kain, Works Cited #3). Kain is specifically referring to the Newtown shooter Adam Lanza, the Norway shooter Anders Behring Breivik, and Aurora theater shooter James Holmes, who all were reportedly obsessed with violent video games. These were three cases in which video game violence was mentioned by many as the main cause of these alleged shootings, but that is just false. Julia Layton says in her article “Do Violent Video Games Lead to Real Violence?” that “while violent video game sales are on the rise, violent crime rates in the United States are going down” (Layton, Works Cited #5). Patrick Markey mentions in his online article titled “In Defense of Violent Video Games” that “in the past 15 years, sales of video games have consistently increased whereas homicides, rapes and aggravated assaults during this same time have decreased” (Markey, Works Cited #6). Markey concludes by saying, “It appears that any negative effect of violent video games is dwarfed by the effects of other societal factors” (Markey, Works Cited #6). Markey and Layton are basically saying that even if violent video games are in fact having an effect on our youth’s violent behavior, it is minimal and irrelevant in regards to other social influences. I have been playing violent video games since I was a young child, along with the majority of my friends, and neither my friends nor I have ever committed a violent crime, so to point to violent video games as the cause of shootings and homicides would disregard the evidence I personally know against it. My second point supporting video game violence as a scapegoat to youth violence is that other factors more closely correlate with aggression and violence in youth than video games. Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olsen mention in their book Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games and What Parents Can Do that “focusing on such easy but minor targets as violent video games causes parents, social activists and public-policy makers to ignore the much more powerful and significant causes of youth violence that have already been well established, including a range of social, behavioral, economic, biological and mental-health factors” (Kutner and Olsen page 190, Works Cited #4). They stress in their book the positive aspects video games, sometimes even violent ones,...

Cited: #3). One can easily see that contradictory research and misleading conclusions point towards an incorrect hypothesis. Violent video games cannot be the cause of youth violence because youth violence is not something new, since it has been around much longer than video games has, and it seems to have only improved since the birth of violent video games.
As one can see, there are three valid points suggesting that violent video games do not contribute to violence in youth, and that video games are just a scapegoat. The first point is that there are millions of young people out there in the world who enjoy playing violent video games that have never committed a violent crime before. The second point is that more reasonable diagnoses for violent behavior, like mental illness, more strongly correlate with youth violence. The third point is that statistics have shown a decrease in violence over the years in which violence in video games has only increased. On top of these three points, there also seems to be no sufficient evidence supporting the claim that violent video games contribute to youth violence. Just because one’s child finds enjoyment in shooting down covenant grunts on the planet Halo or assassinating Templar knights in ancient Israel, does not mean he or she actually plans on killing anyone in real life. Maybe if his or her concerned parent gave these games a try, he or she would find that it is a lot more enriching than he or she previously thought.
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