Wednesday, March 30, 2005

On March 8, Senator Clinton gave a speech to the Kaiser Family Foundation on the media's influence on teens. Here's an excerpt that had to do with video games:

In the last four decades, the government and the public health community have amassed an impressive body of evidence identifying the impact of media violence on children. Since 1969, when President Johnson formed the National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence, the body of data has grown and grown and it leads to an unambiguous and virtually unanimous conclusion: media violence contributes to anxiety, desensitization, and increased aggression among children. When children are exposed to aggressive films, they behave more aggressively. And when no consequences are associated with the media aggression, children are even more likely to imitate the aggressive behavior.

Violent video games have similar effects. According to testimony by Craig Anderson before the Senate Commerce Committee in 2000, playing violent video games accounts for a 13 to 22% increase in teenagers' violent behavior.

Now we know about 92% of children and teenagers play some form of video games. And we know that nine out of ten of the top selling video games contain violence.

And so we know that left to their own devices, you have to keep upping the ante on violence because people do get desensitized and children are going to want more and more stimulation. And unfortunately in a free market like ours, what sells will become even more violent, and the companies will ratchet up the violence in order to increase ratings and sales figures. It is a little frustrating when we have this data that demonstrates there is a clear public health connection between exposure to violence and increased aggression that we have been as a society unable to come up with any adequate public health response.

So now we have to figure out why kids are getting dumber when it comes to differentiating fantasy from reality. Fifty years ago, cowboys and Indians were very popular on TV and kids watched gun battle after gun battle on TV. Back then, it was even acceptable for a student to bring a gun to school for show and tell. I can’t find a single instance of a school shooting in the news archives in the 50s. So I have my doubts that watching people shooting each other on TV is cause enough to go out and shoot someone else in real life.

Video game manufacturers are constantly making more violent games than ever before, that is a fact. It is also fact that it is a purely consumer driven industry. If people didn’t want to buy and play violent video games, there’s nothing forcing them to do so. I have my doubts that 90% of the thousands of video game titles contain violence, unless of course you count a tackle in football as violence or Mario jumping on a goomba's head. The real question they should be asking is not “Why are developers forcing violence upon the youth of the world?”, because they are not, but “Why do I like these games so much?” I like them because they are fun. More often than not I play racing, sport, and strategy games but I still like to sit down and shoot up everything in sight every once in a while. I don't think anyone would argue that shooting everyone in sight in Grand Theft Auto is not preferable to shooting people in a shopping mall.

Quote of the moment:
"The new Europe: Being a constant reminder why our ancestors left the Old Europe."


EJB said...

I think that the high divorce rate has more to do with the increased violence then the video games. Personal I calm down by shotting stufff up when I'm mad.

TBQelite said...

And why is there such a high divorce rate one must ask. However I believe you have something there when you say that the divorce rate is a link to violence. Divorce effects so many things.

Toad734 said...

High divorce rate and poverty, bad parenting, drugs and gangs which often coincide with each other, are the reason kids are so violent today.
South Central LA didn’t become violent after NWA came out; NWA was born out of the violence in South Central.
The same goes for video games and movies, which are just extensions of our culture.
It all starts at bad parenting, poor or rich, if you’re a shitty single parent who doesn’t take the time to raise the kids that you never wanted, those kids are going to end up on the streets in a search to find acceptance and a sense of family. Often times they will find this in the form of a gang.
However, almost none of the school shooters were involved in real gangs and none of them were raised in deep poverty with crack head parents. That doesn't mean that they were good parents, that were involved in their children’s lives and monitored their media influence, which does have an affect, but is not to blame, as pointed out with the cowboy and Indians reference.
That doesn't mean that there wasn't violence in school, or gang activity back in the 50s. They just didn't have access to Mac 10s and automatic weapons like the kids do now days. They were also more likely to be raised by both a mother and father who didn't shoot dope. Another thing to consider is that there are just more of us now. Population centers are now more concentrated, and with more people you have, the more bad people you have.
Bottom line is if your kid is such a schmuck that he is going to imitate everything he sees and hears in the media then it’s the parents job to keep the kids away from these influences and don’t give them the money to buy GTA Vice City, and don’t have HBO and Showtime in their rooms. The rest of us, who can handle entertainment, shouldn’t have to suffer because there are a few mindless kids out there, whose parents won’t take the time to raise them, and expect the government to all the work for them.