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The Untold Truth about Video Games, Violence and Parenthood

            Recent mass murders that took place on American soil seem to have a common trend. Abstaining from the often religious motifs that fuel terrorist attacks, one particular trend that spans across the board, from the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newton, Connecticut, to the movie theatre massacre in Aurora, Colorado, is that both alleged suspects, Adam Lanza and James Holmes, were both avid video game players.

            As technology has evolved, video games have exponentially become more and more psychologically appealing, consisting of more realistic graphics, intriguing storylines and grabbing gameplay. The video game industry has evolved towards the introduction of violence into their games to satisfy the increasing demand for violent video games.

            The trend thus slowly became more and more apparent; mass murderers, such as the above mentioned, seemed all to be avid players of violent games. This trend instigated the media to focus on the violent aspect of video games to an extent that turned video games into a scapegoat for such violent acts, overshadowing aspects such as pre-existing conditions, underlying mental disorders, and depression.

            Scientific entities have not yet found concrete correlations of causation between video-games and violence.  After conducting his own research and analyzing the researches of many other scientific entities, Christopher Ferguson, an assistant professor in the department of behavioral, applied sciences, and criminal justice at Texas A&M International University, came to the following conclusion:

“My meta-analysis concluded that there was no evidence to support either a causal or correlational relationship between video games and aggressive behavior. My impression is that social science made up its mind that video games cause violence before many data were available, and has subsequently attempted to fit square pieces of evidence into round theoretical holes.”

The problem associated with the media’s incorrect portrayal of data regards the behavior adopted by families based on the biased information provided. Against popular belief, there are no significant lobbyist or activist group in the battle against video games; the most significant one in the past was MAVAV (Mothers Against Videogame Addiction and Violence), but the group is outdated and at this point considered defunct by acknowledging that the group has not acted or attempted to act since 2007.

In regards to national organizations, the National Rifle Association (NRA) stated that although there exists a correlation between violent video games leading to violent thoughts, it does not necessarily lead to violent actions. The same logic can be applied in life: if you see a cake, you are more likely to be thinking of cakes in the instant immediately after rather than at a random time, but it will not necessarily make you hungry.

Thus, the incorrect and mostly biased media portrayal of information regarding video games is what tends parents to act wrongfully when it comes to restricting, or permitting their child’s interaction with video games. Some of the individuals or networks associated with the incorrect portrayal of video games causation of violence include Fox News’ anchors, Glenn Beck, and Jeanine Pirro.

“Lanza believed every kill would increase his score,” says Glenn Beck, “. . . if your kids are playing video games, you have to stop them now. Please. I beg you. [. . .] This is medical fact, not crazy theory”. The reality is that the media’s goal is to attract the greatest audience possible, and if to do so, some facts need to be skewed and modified, they will promptly do so.

The majority of media’s portrayal regarding video games focuses on the possible (possible because there is not enough data to prove it to be concrete) negative aspects rather than the concrete benefits, or even concrete proofs that although violent video games may immediately lead to violent thoughts, it has no found relationship or blame into turning normal individuals into aggressive ones, especially when it comes to making them into murderers.

There is the possibility that violent individuals are attracted to violent video games, and not the popular belief that violent video games make individuals violent. In regards of video game and violence, it is difficult to believe that the media is credible when presenting information to the public, so parents interested in making the informed decision related to video games and their children should become informed by reading scientific studies from credible sources. So far, no relationship has been found between video games and the development of children into violent adults, so there is no reason for parents to be worried about their children’s exposure to such medium.

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