Another school shooting brings about issues of gun rights and of course the question that has been asked since the mid 80’s: “Are violent videogames to blame for our violent youth?” This horse had been beaten to death in the 90’s, but almost 20 years later, here we are talking about it again.
Last week, President Trump met with game critics and industry leaders to discuss the link between violence in video games and aggressive behavior in the youth. “We have to look at the internet because a lot of bad things are happening to young kids and young minds and their minds are being formed,” President Trump said at the White House during the gathering of lawmakers.
According to the video montage shown at the White House to the Trump Administration, the biggest offender is “Call of Duty” due to its graphic nature and heavy use of assault weapons. Since, Columbine politicians have regularly pointed to violence in media as the source of aggression and a sort of “training” to become a killer. The only link they had at the time was the Columbine killers played “Doom,” so that must be the problem.
Video games were fairly new so it was easy to try to show a link between violence in the youth and the “new kid on the block,” video games. “The overwhelming majority of kids who play do NOT commit antisocial acts,” wrote Henry Jenkins a professor at MIT. “According to a 2001 U.S. Surgeon General’s report, the strongest risk factors for school shootings centered on mental stability and the quality of home life, not media exposure.” Now video games have been around for the better part of 30 years and we have had time to really show the effects of violent video games. In 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that violent video games do not promote violence when it voted seven to two in Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association stating that California was not allowed ban the sale of violent video games to children. “Any demonstrated effects are both small and indistinguishable from effects produced by other media,” said Justice Scalia. Japan is about on par with the United States for consumption of video games and violent video games playable by children. The big difference is in 2016 the U.S. had 38,658 gun related deaths verses only six gun related deaths in Japan, according to Gunpolicy. org.
Another worry though is that the violence portrayed in video games will desensitize children to real life violence. I have played all of the most violent video games the news has tried to demonize from “Mortal Kombat” to “Call of Duty.” I love these games, however, I do not like real life violence, and I cannot stand to see someone hurt and would not ever want to see anything imitating any of the violence I have ever seen in a video game.
I will leave you with a couple quotes which I think say what I believe to be true as well. “There are no long term links between consuming violent video games and real world violence. If you’re worried about exposure to violence only in video games, you’re turning a blind eye to violence elsewhere,” wrote Zac Thompson a contributor for the Huffington Post. “Look around, violent video games are nothing compared to the violence we consume in our daily news media.”