Video games, Violence, and Children Research Proposal
What are the effects, if any, of violent video games on America's youth? Are violent video games negatively affecting children's social skills and interactions with others?
Recent tragedies in Connecticut and Colorado have reignited the search for the cause of these horrible acts. This time, people are looking towards a newer source of supposed influence as the culprit, and that source is video games. Video games have always been a controversial source of media. Due to their interactive nature, video games have been argued to have more influence over their consumers than television and movies. Many psychologists and politicians argue that violent video games affect children, specifically their social skills and aggression levels. Children are highly influenced by their surroundings and psychologists believe that the violent games children are playing are causing them to be more aggressive in their day to day lives and less adept at social interaction. However, there are also psychologists and politicians arguing the opposite, that video games have no effect on the minds of today’s youth. Those against video games argue that they should be banned from sale to minors. This, however, is in direct conflict with the first amendment. Most acknowledge video games to be a full-fledged art form so they cannot be legally banned from sale. They can be restricted based on age limitations, as State governments have the right to regulate “health, safety, and morals” of its citizens, but a state cannot make selling violent video games a crime. Those in favor of the ban claim that since these games have such an adverse effect those who play them, they need to be regulated in order to protect the country’s children, and that takes precedent over self-expression. The debate is heated, and with studies yielding results that support both sides, the argument is at a deadlock, and a deeper, more evaluative look needs to be taken.
I am an avid gamer, and I have been for as long as I can remember, so I feel drawn to this topic. I know that I’ve played my fair share of violent video games and as far as I am aware, I am not a worse or more aggressive person because of it. I remember watching the news recently after the Sandy Hooks shooting in Connecticut and seeing the headline “Video Games to Blame for Slaughter of Children?” and I immediately was outraged. How could my favorite form of entertainment cause a national tragedy? After looking around online, I discovered that this claim was false. The shooter liked the Facebook page of a videogame and the media jumped on this, claiming that the game the shooter played caused him to commit the crime. This claim was later dismissed as false, but it did get me wondering about whether or not video games can actually affect those who play them. I believe this is an important issue because now that I think about it, and having done a little research, video games do affect children. I’m surprised how many ten to twelve year olds claim they have slept with my mother, and I still have no idea why I have gender identification problems playing Call of Duty. To explain, many young children who shouldn’t be playing violent video games play them anyway, and when they play online, they spew profanity like no other. Common jabs revolve around one’s mother and one’s sexuality. Additionally these young children have barely hit puberty, so it’s rather easy to mistake a 12 year old boy with a teenaged girl. Younger and younger children are being exposed to hyper violent video games earlier than they should be, and these games are certainly affecting how they interact with others online. These games may also be affecting how they act in real life. I have no idea how these trash talking ten year olds treat their parents and friends, but if their online actions are of any representation; I feel much pity for their loved ones. I’m exploring this issue because I’m for my own curiosity, but I also hope that my completed work finds its way to some parent out there who, after reading it, questions the content that their children are being exposed to, and whether or not it is appropriate. Too many parents are simply buying video games for their children without taking the time to determine if the game is suited for their kids. Many ignorant parents know that Call of Duty is a shooter, but they have little idea of how violent it actually is. First person executions, dog attacks, and nuclear blasts have all been featured in America’s favorite first person shooter and most parents probably aren’t aware of it. I hope to come to a greater understanding of how video games affect children, for there is no doubt that there are, but while these games are potentially harmful, they are not the only thing at fault. Parents need to be aware of this issue so that they can better raise their children, for if a child knows right from wrong, he will not bludgeon hookers with a baseball bat down the road.