Video Game Violence and Kids

There’s currently a discussion taking place between gamers and anti-gaming advocates concerned about video game violence and the possibility these types of video games could make people more aggressive.

There’s currently a discussion taking place between gamers and anti-gaming advocates concerned about video game violence, and the possibility these types of video games could make people more aggressive in life.

On one side of the table, we have gamers and professionals in the interactive entertainment industry concerned about people unjustly blaming video games, and the industry in general, for violent events that have occurred around the world. On the other side sits parents, religious groups, and the anti-gaming establishment desiring a ban on video game violence.

The question being discussed is: does playing violent video games result in players being physically and emotionally aggressive in life?

Kids need to be monitored while playing video games
  • A recent analysis of 98 studies on the gaming behaviour of nearly 37,000 people indicates playing violent video games increases feelings of aggression. You can read the abstract or the full paper here.
  • Another recent study by researchers in Italy indicates experiencing video game violence results in less self-control and more cheating by gamers. You can read the abstract or full text of the Italian study here.

I believe these finding don’t surprise gamers playing violent video games. The Italian study indicating gamers who play violent video games show less self-control and cheat more during play will probably come as a surprise to some players. The fact is violent video games glorify and reward physically and emotionally aggressive behaviors, especially in people already morally detached or in the case of children, morally immature.

Young children are a blank slate, morally. Exposing immature minds to violent video games could lead them to believe violence is an answer to their problems in life situations.

This is why violent video games and children should never meet. This is also why children, especially if the parent feels they aren't trustworthy, should be monitored while playing video games. Parents need to watch their children while they play video games or play with them.

  • The Supreme Court of the United States is currently discussing implementing a California law proposing an age limit of 18 years of age for people buying violent video games. You can read the full article here.
  • If a parent watches, or plays video games with, a child they can explain the video game violence and put it in context.They can also watch their children for signs of physical and emotional aggression and take steps.

If you feel playing violent video games is resulting in a child being physically and emotionally aggressive in life? Having the child take a break from playing, to test if playing aggressive video games could be part of the problem, is the best solution.

If a parent also plays violent video games, this is the perfect opportunity to give support by not playing physically and emotionally aggressive video games at the same time. Taking the above steps will help to make sure your children aren’t playing violent video games without permission and exhibiting violence in life as a result.

Certainly, there will be instances where people become physically and emotionally aggressive after playing violent video games, but this doesn’t mean there is a direct link between the two events. No conclusion on this subject is possible, without more scientific study.   

The emotional events surrounding the Sandy Hook shootings and similar tragic events serve as the centerpiece of the anti-gaming establishment's fight to carry out a ban on video game violence.

According to Gilman Louie, a former video game developer and one of fifty scientific visionaries mentioned by Scientific America in 2002, a culture war exists in America between the anti-gaming establishment and the interactive gaming industry, and the video gaming industry is losing.

  • The ARA and firearms advocates have been active in trying to redirect blame for the tragic events surrounding the Newtown shootings towards the responsible people playing violent video games. You can view the associated YouTube video on video game violence here.

All the work by the ARA and firearms advocates paid off as President Barack Obama last year called for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to do research on a possible link between violent video games and events like Sandy Hook. At this time a survey found 89 percent of American parents thought violent video games were a problem. It was looking like a ban on video game violence was possible.

At this time President Obama also called for $10 million to conduct research into a possible link between gun violence in America and violent video games. A year later, nothing has happened, and no money has changed hands.

In fact, it turns out Adam Lanza, the person responsible for the Sandy Hook shootings, didn’t like to play violent video games. According to investigators, he didn’t like playing Call of Duty, as many claim, but Dance Dance Revolution and Super Mario.

Holes are appearing in the belief playing violent video games resulted in the violence surrounding Sandy Hook and the desire for a ban on video game violence.


Published Feb. 18th 2014
  • Stixs_8032
    One thing I've always wondered about these studies is how "violent video games" are defined. It is easy to say that DDR is non-violent and CoD is. Except that DDR gets you moving and active, possibly an adrenaline rush - it could be argued that puts a player in the mood to take action rather than be passive.

    How about games like Ratchet & Clank, Infamous, Fallout 3, Skyrim, Final Fantasy, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Fable, Mass Effect, Madden NFL?

    Is it the actions the character is performing? First person perspective? Gore? PvE or PvP? How realistic the graphics are? Does it make a difference if there are in-game consequences (beyond winning/losing) for the different behaviors? Does it make a difference what role the player takes - good/evil in Fable or Mass Effect paragon/renegade?

    Without a definition of "violent video games" or even knowing what games these various studies used, I don't see how they provide any actual useful/actionable information. I realize the people performing the studies may have a definition and certain games they use, but studies may conflict simply because they use different definitions and without knowing the actual experimental process there is no actionable data for the consumer.
  • Game Oracle
    Hi: I agree. We need to define the terms of the discussion. This is definitely one of the problems with discussing any subject. We often have conflicting definitions and I have not seen a consistent one used across the board for this discussion. Until this happens, any study or assumed scientific basis of data is actually void and null in my book.
  • Rothalack
    Master O' Bugs
    Great article, it really is a great solution to the entire problem. Parents, pay attention, don't give your kids CoD.... COMMON SENSE.

    I watched the PBS news report you had put in the article and I'm glad someone actually took a look at the argument from both sides, first I've seen. One thing though, I got to the point in the video where he says, "Republicans are putting a spotlight on the issue." Mr. Grassley began speaking and he had this to say. "Where is the artistic value of shooting innocent people." I hate this person now. How dare you say that about a video game when OUR TROOPS that MY TAXES pay for are on the ground in many countries RIGHT NOW, KILLING INNOCENT PEOPLE. This includes a good friend from high school who just got back from Afganistan (My brother hasn't seen combat yet, but may at some point soon). God... Dammit...
  • Fathoms_4209
    Featured Columnist
    Well, there's no "artistic value" in war, so I don't think the two issues are comparable. :)
  • Game Oracle
    Hi: I agree!
  • Game Oracle
    Thanks for the comment. I think you could be right, might need to think that idea out a little better.
  • Fathoms_4209
    Featured Columnist
    Absolutely agree that children and violent games should be mutually exclusive. I've been saying that for years.

    Do not agree that they should be allowed to play them if parents "monitor" the action. Explaining the meaning behind someone getting their head blown off may put the event in some context, but connecting actual death with a video game is going to be impossible. All it's doing is further desensitizing the child and perhaps even cultivates a morbid, twisted interest in that violence.

    Just avoid altogether. Make parents be parents.

New Cache - article_comments_article_12510