Violent video games today may influence younger, more impressionable, and or weaker-willed players, but in general, the average gamer will know better than to let data on a plastic disc tell them how to live their lives.
Alright, so…by a show of hands, how many of you in this room believe that violence in video games should be restricted, or “toned down”? *survey the votes* How many of you believe that violence in video games is the most influential factor in causing teens to commit violent crime? *survey the votes* In that case, I hope I can change the opinions of some of the people in this room today with what I say.
Now, there are two common and frequent misconceptions as far as violent video games. Number 1 – “in almost all violent crime committed by teens or young adults, the offender was influenced by violent video games.” Number 2 – “the influences of the child are entirely the child’s own fault – none of the blame rests with the parents or parental figures.”
In complete contrast to that first common misconception, most of the violent crimes in America – committed by teens or young adults – was not influenced entirely by video games, if even at all. As a matter of fact, a significant amount teenage crime and violence is a result of bullying in their community, especially in schools. Almost 30% of youth in the United States (or over 5.7 million) are estimated to be involved in bullying as either a bully, a target of bullying, or both. In a recent national survey of students in grades 6-10, 13% reported bullying others, 11% reported being the target of bullies, and another 6% said that they bullied others and were bullied themselves.
Now, you might not think that the bullying has any significance on teenagers, but it does. I’m sure we all remember the infamous tragedy at Columbine back in 1999, don’t we? If not, let me remind you of something – 13 people, including 12 students and 1 brave teacher, died that day, and many more were wounded, shot by 2 teenage boys in the school. Those boys were bullied and teased and picked on and tormented by their fellow students all throughout junior high, and even some parts of high school. While it’s true that one of the gunmen did have some influence from video games (specifically the games Doom and Wolfenstein 3D), most of the influence may very well have been internal. Eric Harris, believed to have masterminded the entire massacre, was thought to be a clinical psychopath, and Dylan Klebold, the other gunman, was a depressive. Harris was believed to have an outlandish superiority complex, and was hoping to demonstrate his superiority to the world through the Columbine shooting.
Some of the other things involved with the boys’ desires to cause this tragedy were an online blog created by Harris, which illustrated his ever-growing anger towards society, their musical influences – including Rammstein, Marylin Manson, KMFDM, and other mainstream “dark” bands – and movie preferences. One prime example of that is the film Natural Born Killers, a film that was frequently criticized for its excessively graphic and violent content.
So, as you can see, video games weren’t the only influence that drove Harris and Klebold to commit such a heinous crime. In fact, if you look at everything all together, the violent games were far outweighed by all the other factors.
Speaking of other factors, there are a hefty amount of things that can negatively influence teens and young adults to do such horrible things, like the music they listen to, the movies and television shows that they watch, their home environment, their school and community environment, child abuse from an adult or a “family friend”, and even something as simple as peer pressure.
The first of the last two – child abuse – is the next thing I want to discuss. Child abuse is a serious problem, not just here, but all over the world. Here specifically, though, child abuse is something we can’t just turn the...
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