Grand Theft Childhood?

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Do violent video games make people violent? This question has been a topic of discussion for years. I was around 11-years-old when I first played "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" at my cousins' house. Neither me nor my parents were concerned about me becoming violent because we don't think video games can do that.

Oklahoma representative William Fourkiller disagrees. He claims, "violent video games contribute to some of our societal problems like obesity and bullying". Fourkiller cited an incident of a man who played "Grand Theft" and then stole a car. This isn't good evidence because it doesn't prove that the video game caused the man to steal a car. It could be that the man's tendency to steal caused him to the play the video game, or that a third variable made him do both.

Harvard psychologist Dr. Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson conducted a two-year study on this topic. They concluded that kids who play violent video games do, in fact, have a higher risk of getting in trouble. However, they did not find evidence that video games directly make kids violent. Violence in schools has gone down in the past 20 years while video game playing has gone up, they say. William Fourkiller is proposing a bill to congress that would add a larger tax on violent video games. I'm surprised a hypothesis that has been proved wrong time and time again is still relevant today, and that such a bill is even being considered.

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/05/video-games-bill-oklahoma_n_1255820.html

http://www.news.com.au/technology/game-violence-claims-debunked-by-experts/story-e6frfro0-1111116292978

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I agree with you that violence in video games doesn't necessarily cause kids to become violent. However I think exposing kids to violent situations and making it seem normal to kill someone in a game could increase the chances of a kid to become violent in certain situations.I am not saying because someone plays video games they are going to become violent.Some of my friends play pretty graphic games and I am amazed at how violent it can get. I think it is important to monitor what kids play and make sure they understand that video games are just games, and make sure they understand real life is not what occurs in the games.

This made me want to laugh at Fourkiller, but I didn't. I just feel that he is trying to make a point that doesn't have enough to back it up. Exposure to violence could have an influence, but it doesn't seem very likely that it would have such an impact that children would reenact the violence in real life. Seabu016 made a good point that children that play violent games should be made aware that video games are only games and that what happens in games should not be repeated in real life.

I thought it was interesting how there has research done and no results have been found to show that violent video games cause violence in the users and efforts are still being made to put a higher tax on the games. I personally think it is a waste of time and money on the governments part. If people want these violent video games they will buy them no matter how high the tax on them is.

Interesting thoughts. I realize that it is often difficult to prove causation, especially with things like this (when many variables could be confounding), but there are a few things you mentioned which I disagree with. While perhaps violent video games do not directly cause violence in children, playing them has proven to show a significant correlation with increased aggression. "[...] this effect of violent video games on aggression is as strong as the effect of condom use on risk of HIV infection (Weller, 1993)."

Take a look at the rest of the study from which that quote was taken; you might find it interesting: http://www.soc.iastate.edu/sapp/VideoGames1.pdf

Interesting blog...I have to say that I disagree a lot with what Fourkiller says about video games. I don't think the video games have anything to do with how a kid grows up...it has everything to do with the nurture they grow up with. If parents on the side are endorsing violence, then yes, maybe violent video games might play a small part, but overall as long as the environment in which a kid is growing up is stable, violent video games have no effect in my opinion. I grew up playing halo, call of duty, medal of honor, grand theft auto and I have nothing violent to show for it...I've never even shot a real gun. Yes, I think guns are awesome, but that doesn't mean I'm going to go out and shoot someone because I saw it in a video game. Awesome blog.

I think that this basically displays what we have been learning about correlation vs. causation. The video games do not cause people to be angry or violent. However, angry and violent people probably tend to buy a lot of video games with violence involved in them. In terms of the tax, I dont think it is the worst idea. It cannot really harm anything and if it is implemented effectively could help decrease our governments debt by a very small amount.

I do agree with this to some degree...but my main issue with this is the idea that many people (myself included) grew up with incredibly gory, violent games and movies that have had no adverse effects. I'm not saying that these things haven't effected others in a negative manner, but I'm also saying that there is probably a 3rd or 4th factor. Remember - correlation doesn't equal causation! - (sorry, couldn't help myself haha)

I agree that violent video games do not cause an increase in violence and crime. I think it is kind of ridiculous to put a higher tax on violent video games. I would say that it is the parents responsibility of wether or not they want their kids playing these games. If the parents believe that video games directly relate to violence, they should not allow them to play these games.

This is another classic example "correlation not equaling causation".Directionality is also important to consider--are kids more violent because they play video games, or are violent kids more likely to play video games. It's virtually impossible to pinpoint the origins. Like you mentioned, there are many mediating factors that could explain why children who play more violent video games are more likely to participate in violence. My theory is that violent societies create violent video games. Perhaps these children are just more susceptible to the daily violence they see on news, television, at school, etc. that cause them to behave violently.

Although children who play violent games during adolescence may be more likely to commit violent acts later in life, we can use the principle of correlation vs causation. Like you present, studies show no direct correlation. I have read articles about this subject and the main point of all video games seems to be satisfaction in achieving a goal, whether that be violent or not.

This topic needs significantly to be focused on since a lot of media contents include violent pictures and children have a lot of chance to see them today. But it is hard to find out the origin reason. But I think children who like violence tend to play violent video games and act violently. And playing such games will encourage the desire to become violent in real, too.

We can only say they might be correlated, but definitely not cause and effect. most of the time, children's violence tendency is from adult's behaviors, because our human beings are good at imitating. We can not just throw this guilty to the video game. Also, parent's guidance is also important. Actually, I think we can benefit from those video games sometimes. It depends on who play them. ^^

This debate has bugged me since I first heard of it. I too think that the claim that violent video games is not a very good one.. There are too many variables in one person's life to pinpoint on why exactly they will act violent. Some kids may even be too receptive of games during a young age, which is why they have a ratings system not allowing young kids to buy the games. If you want to blame someone, you should think about starting with the parents who buy their 12 year olds games such as Call of Duty or GTA.

I actually don't think it's such a bad idea to raise the tax or whatever for violent video games, depending one HOW violent it actually is. I think looking at this topic from our age point and perception is different from say, looking at this from a parents point of view.

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This page contains a single entry by dorm0056 published on February 8, 2012 5:13 AM.

Correlation versus Causation: Social Networking and Personal Confidence was the previous entry in this blog.

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