In Slaughter, Louisiana last week, a young boy of eight years old shot his grandmother in the head. Many broadcasters and reporters are honing in on the fact that not long before the violent act occurred, the boy had been playing Grand Theft Auto IV.
The scene is a Southern, mildly rundown trailer park and it isn’t uncommon to have firearms within an arm’s reach. However, rather than asking why a young child had access to a loaded gun, people are blaming the content of GTA IV. Granted, the game is rated M for Mature for a very good reason, from the senseless violence to the sexuality. Kids shouldn’t be playing GTA anyhow, but it is impossible to reinforce that notion.
There may be a correlation, but a video game is not causation.
News channels, particularly Fox News, jumped all over the GTA IV tidbit. Video games have been linked to violent behavior in the past. But there are just so many variables to consider here. Bring in all the behavioral psychologists you want–blaming a game is most certainly not the whole story.
What pushes someone to murder another? How was the child’s home life? Was there domestic violence? Perhaps seeing violence within the home and within the game seemed to click together in the boy’s developing mind. How was the child’s school life–and did he even go to school? What were the other external influences? Are there any disorders present in the family history? Variables upon variables, and one just cannot explain the matter.
Another thing: why could the boy get to a gun so easily? A game did not harm the woman, a gun did. People have rights to their guns, but only if they can be responsible–that includes keeping them out of children’s reach. The news is berating the influence of games, but not the danger of something that literally decimates one’s brain and body.
What we all need to understand is responsibility. Either for dangerous firearms or for the media we consume. Parents and guardians have a responsibility to make sure the content their children are seeing is something they can handle while using discretion. Some children are more mature than some adults, perhaps they can understand that the behavior in GTA IV is unacceptable and keep it within that realm. Sometimes that is not the case. And we all have to understand every facet of the story as much as possible before attacking the thing we do not comprehend entirely.
What are your thoughts on the effects of video games and the horrible events that transpired?