Study: violent games turn kids into jerks

But so long as the link between the onscreen violence and real life violence isn’t proven, the debate will keep going around in circles

The war over violent video games, raging for decades now, can get as loud and dumb as the games themselves. Media watchdogs, parents’ groups and religious organizations are quick to blame gaming for everything from falling literacy rates to school shootings. Meanwhile the massive gaming industry dodges these accusations with its self-imposed ratings system as its army of hot-headed gamers stubbornly deny any connection whatsoever between gaming and behaviour.

Mention in an online forum that you don’t like your kid slitting the throat of drug kingpins all night when he sleeps over at his friends’ house, and a hundred goons will chastise you for allowing your kid to play what is laughably classified as “Mature” content. One side demonizes the other for corrupting millions of innocents, the other blames its opponents for raising their children poorly. Things can get tense.

The Holy Grail for the anti-gaming lobby is proof. No study has ever proven that virtual violence leads to real violence. Without this smoking gun, nothing changes; each year brings a new moral panic over some disgusting game or another, and each year, gaming’s defenders insist that no kid with decent parents would ever get their hands on said game, and anyhow, it wouldn’t affect them if they did.

Yet level-headed parents have never been too worried about games turning their kids into psycho-killers. What they worry about is that games may turn their kids into jerks. The dead-eye stare of the gaming child, the monotonous digital bloodshed, the time spent away from social interactions in the physical world—you don’t have to be a fundamentalist to worry about those things. Now there is research to support those concerns.

A study in the most recent Journal of Children and Media by Simmons College Communications Professor Edward T. Vieira, Jr., Ph.D. reportedly finds that exposure to violent games can have a negative impact on a kid’s moral development. Lack of sympathy and empathy, stunted moral reasoning and a blasé attitude about violence were found to be common among kids who play lots of violent games.

Duh.




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Study: violent games turn kids into jerks

  1. Once fool proof is out, it's already too late.

  2. Once fool proof is out, it's already too late.

  3. Bosh.

  4. Bosh.

  5. Unfortunately, the Journal isn't out yet, so people can't actually look to see what his article really says. Instead what we've got is a press release from Simmons College about an issue they know is bound to stir up some controversy… and we're now into media reporting on the media repeating the press release. No actual journalism involved here, folks.

  6. Unfortunately, the Journal isn't out yet, so people can't actually look to see what his article really says. Instead what we've got is a press release from Simmons College about an issue they know is bound to stir up some controversy… and we're now into media reporting on the media repeating the press release. No actual journalism involved here, folks.

  7. And, yet, the best and most educational game series out there are the most violent.

    I nuked Ghandi in Civilization when I was 12 years old. The year before, I'd contaminated half of Toronto with nuclear fallout in SimCity.

    And, yet, playing those games certainly aided in my development of planning, critical thinking, and all sorts of other beneficial skills.

    Just be smart about whatever games you buy your kids and they'll be fine. And if not, don't worry – playing GTA probably just means they're going to be business students some day. :)

  8. That explains quite a bit, Mr. Harper.

  9. That explains quite a bit, Mr. Harper.

  10. As a father of 3 young kids, I absolutely agree with this. Even with seemingly benign games like Mario Kart and Super Mario, the behaviour of kids will change with continuous exposure.

  11. As a father of 3 young kids, I absolutely agree with this. Even with seemingly benign games like Mario Kart and Super Mario, the behaviour of kids will change with continuous exposure.

  12. Show em a couple of old 3 Stooges clips….watch their behaviour.

  13. This study does not find that violent video games have a negative impact on moral development. It is a survey that shows that people with poor moral development are more likely to report playing violent video games.

    It's possible that violent video games cause bad morals. Or, it's possible that bad morals cause you to enjoy violent video games. Or, it's possible that low moral development makes one more likely to tell a researcher that they play violent video games. Or both poor morals and playing violent video games may be caused by some other factor (such as poor parenting). Or there may be no causal connection at all.

    There may be good reasons to keep seriously violent video games away from kids. But this study isn't one of them.

  14. This study does not find that violent video games have a negative impact on moral development. It is a survey that shows that people with poor moral development are more likely to report playing violent video games.

    It's possible that violent video games cause bad morals. Or, it's possible that bad morals cause you to enjoy violent video games. Or, it's possible that low moral development makes one more likely to tell a researcher that they play violent video games. Or both poor morals and playing violent video games may be caused by some other factor (such as poor parenting). Or there may be no causal connection at all.

    There may be good reasons to keep seriously violent video games away from kids. But this study isn't one of them.

  15. Ever been to a bar lately? The thought-preventing alcohol(or the attention-span destroying pot); the verbal and sometimes physical fighting; the mindless banter and chatter about subjects that you could probably better inform yourself about if you stayed at home and read a book. Are these the social activities that people who play video games are missing out on? …or have I unfairly cast a vast, however scientifically worded, generalization on people who participate in "acceptable" social activities? People who have "real lives"? What a jerk argument, eh?

  16. Mmmm that about sums up the bar scene.

  17. Mmmm that about sums up the bar scene.

    • Oh, as if.

      • Like….totally.

  18. Nyuk! Nyuk!

  19. Nyuk! Nyuk!

  20. Please, please, PLEASE: when you are reporting on a scientific article, don't fall into the biggest trap of scientific illiteracy: correlation doesn't imply causation! You can't look at a survey that shows that people with poor moral development are more likely to play violent video games and say "violent games turn kids into jerks" any more than you can look at a survey that shows that global temperatures have gone up coinciding perfectly with a reduction in the number of pirates worldwide and say "Loss of pirates over the last two centuries has caused global temperatures to rise".

  21. Please, please, PLEASE: when you are reporting on a scientific article, don't fall into the biggest trap of scientific illiteracy: correlation doesn't imply causation! You can't look at a survey that shows that people with poor moral development are more likely to play violent video games and say "violent games turn kids into jerks" any more than you can look at a survey that shows that global temperatures have gone up coinciding perfectly with a reduction in the number of pirates worldwide and say "Loss of pirates over the last two centuries has caused global temperatures to rise".

    • It is the Easter season, but I am quite surprised to see that it is Ponitus Pilate reborn. After all, "What is truth?"

  22. I think you need to find a new bar to go to

  23. I think you need to find a new bar to go to

  24. Oh, as if.

  25. It is the Easter season, but I am quite surprised to see that it is Ponitus Pilate reborn. After all, "What is truth?"

  26. Like….totally.

  27. Violent video games my ass, it's the kids decision and thought process that determines their actions, and they can avoid doing it to prevent it from happening because a dumb reason like this one isnt behind it. It's all in the mental stability of the human being. Let the kid take a whack alongside the head and see if he remains violent afterwards, im sure he will just turn sad and be sorry, and learn from mistakes. If not then its a more serious mental issue, their needs to be consequences for actions or else they will step all over you. discipline your kids, their just like you and me but younger.

  28. Violent video games my ass, it's the kids decision and thought process that determines their actions, and they can avoid doing it to prevent it from happening because a dumb reason like this one isnt behind it. It's all in the mental stability of the human being. Let the kid take a whack alongside the head and see if he remains violent afterwards, im sure he will just turn sad and be sorry, and learn from mistakes. If not then its a more serious mental issue, their needs to be consequences for actions or else they will step all over you. discipline your kids, their just like you and me but younger.

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