By Celeste Duran
“I need a weapon” as Master Chief said, may be one reason why people think that violent video games, such as Halo, cause violence in teens. There have been quite a few teen shootings that people say are caused by violent video games. There are many kids, teens, and adults, who play these video games on a daily basis. This doesn't mean that those who play them will become violent.
I do not think that violent video games cause teenagers to be violent and plan shootings at their school. There isn't enough evidence to show that they directly cause violence in teens. It may be one factor as to why they show aggression and violence, but it is not the sole cause. There have been many reports, studies, and research done to support my claim. Some reports may disagree with others, but they can all agree it is not the main source of violence in teens. Video games are a source for entertainment not a cause for shootings in your hometown.
One recent shooting that people blamed on violent video games was in 2011, when Anders Breivik killed eight people during a bomb attack in Oslo, Norway, then 69 more in a shooting at a youth camp. He had written a manifesto that talked about World of Warcraft and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which happen to be two of the most popular video games on the market. There are many video games that contain gore, guns, death, fighting and inappropriate language, such as these two games. Most have M ratings on them, but teens always find a ways to get these games. Over 90 percent of children play video games, with 85 percent of those games containing some violence, rated T or M video games.
An American Psychological Association (APA) report concluded that no single risk factor consistently leads a person to act aggressively or violently, but rather it is an accumulation of risk factors that leads to the aggressive or violent behavior. Dr. Vic Strasburger, a professor of pediatrics emeritus at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine said, “I've treated several school shooters and my best guess is that these kids have four factors that apply. One: They've been abused or bullied. Two: They have mental illness. Three: They are socially isolated. And four: They play violent video games.” The APA report found that the video games alone can't explain this aggression. Rather, it concluded that the "accumulation of risk factors," such as antisocial behavior, depression, trouble at home, delinquency or academic problems, also played a role. Their report concluded that "The research reviewed here demonstrates that violent video game use is one such risk factor."
There has been more research done on what violent video games could cause, but the APA is the most used and trusted. There is always the people who disagree though. Some people such as a psychology professor, Dr. Christopher Ferguson of Stetson University. “Clinicians are no different – they’re people too, and are susceptible to these reactions,” he said. “If clinicians are so prone to bias about media effects, and able to produce policy statements that are so wrong, what about the statements about other things, such as circumcision? We rely on these people for unbiased opinion, so it’s a concern. Understanding that the generational effect is so strong could help us find a way to be more objective when it comes to moral panic, and to assess expert opinion for bias.” He thinks the APA report shouldn’t be used or trusted as much as it is with it's faults.
"Considering the APA's long-standing bias against and attacks on video games, this slanted report is not surprising," Entertainment Software Association said in a statement. "Numerous medical professionals, researchers, and courts all debunk the fundamental thesis of their argument. In tearing down similar faulty research, the U.S. Supreme Court specifically ruled that 'psychological studies purporting to show a connection between exposure to violent video games and harmful effects on children do not prove that such exposure causes minors to act aggressively.' We could not state it better."
According to Entertainment Software Association, Dr. Ferguson, and the Supreme Court, the APA association has bias which makes their report to less factual. They all concluded the same result but they just don't see eye to eye, their reputation for each other isn't appealing.
Most people can agree that the information they concluded with is correct. The problem is that there is not enough evidence to support that video games can lead to violence. The evidence presented says it may lead to increased aggression, but not enough so that it cause them to shoot and kill people. They might be in a war inside themselves, struggling to decide what to do with existing anger. Their decision of what they do with this anger might be them shooting other people, but violent video games are not to blame. Regardless of the source of such extreme violence, there's no justification for violent acts.
"There's no honorable way to kill, no gentle way to destroy. There is nothing good in war. Except its ending."
— Abraham Lincoln
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