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Do violent video games lead to behavior problems?

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Do you feel that violent video games lead to behavioral issues, or the lack of control over aggressive behavior?

This topic is one I personally weigh a lot, as I have a 9 year old that is very media and game focused, and has shown signs of obsession, and does show signs of aggression while playing them. Now, with a younger 10 month old in the home, me and my wife go out of our way to limit if not completely keep any media away from our younger son - instead focusing on age appropriate play.

What are your thoughts? Do you feel there is a link, and do you feel that think is serious enough for any form of legal control over access to any form of violent video game?

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Funny, we were just doing this in Psychology lately!

 

I believe that yes, there is a link. I'm not saying it's a strong one, but it's definately there.

In psychology we're talking about how these games become 'role models' to little kids, and children at that age assimilate a lot of behaviour from the environment (the video-game).

For example, imagine the kid playing GTA. They play this 'cool' dude talking in slang and stealing cars, and using those same cars to kill people, and then use all kind of weapons to beat people with. 

I feel like those little kids will think it's ok to do those because they see their 'role model' (the game dude) doing it.

They also most probably learned of a myriad of ways on how to hurt someone, which is a skill that little kids should never learn XD

 

Jokes apart, I repeat that for me there is definately a link, and even though in Psychology we said it cannot be the only cause for aggression to present itself in an individual (it could also be on genes or other behavioural feats), we all agreed that it certainly augments aggressive streaks.

If I had a kid, I would personally do my best to not let him play those types of video-games until they were at least 12/13 as I believe at that age they really develop a responsible version of consciousness, and they're able to really divide reality from fiction (little kids seem to always think that everything is a game).

Hope everything goes well :D

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Good topic - for me, I think there can be a link, but only if there is something there to begin with, and what I mean by that, is you could have a child which plays every violent game there is, and doesn't hurt a fly because she doesn't have any underlying tendencies, versus a child that does - etc.

Part of me also thinks it's just an excuse to excuse bad behaviour. There is a total lack of respect in the younger generation these days in my opinion. 

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An interesting topic! I think the age of the child when they're being introduced to the game is very significant. A child's (such as your 9 year old's) brain simply isn't developed enough to draw clear lines between fantasy and reality, which means they'll take lessons from video games into the real world more readily than an adult would. We can play GTA and relax, knowing that when we turn off the game, that mentality of sandbox violence ends, and we can return to the real world.

The others made very valid points about other factors in the child's life (including things as simple as personality), but in the end I do think that children should be kept to age-appropriate games.PG for children, T for Teen, etc. I've seen young children (9-12) become extremely obsessed with M-rated video games, and worry about their development as a result. 

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I have 2 children, age 10 and 7. 

Both of them enjoy violent "non-gore" video games that are too old for them such as HALO, and my 7 year old plays way more than my 10 year old.

I don't allow them to play GTA or COD etc.

Neither of them transfer things that happen in games to the real world. I raised them correctly and taught them from a young age what behaviour is and is not acceptable. 

I think if a child is inclined to be an aggressive person, video games may help "ignite" that flame, but I don't think they are the root cause. 

Another problem is that these days, parents are playing video games and showing kids anger. The kids then embed "this is how I should respond when I lose in a video game". 

But then again, I wouldn't DREAM of letting my kids play GTA or other games like that until they are much more older. 

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I do not believe Video Games cause violence in people. If anything among the adult gamers I know violent video games PREVENTS them from being violent because it gives them a safe way to release their anger & frustration. Kind of like the idea of punching a pillow. 

IF there is a correlation I'm willing to bet that the correlation is because people who already struggle with violence and aggression are simply drawn to violent video games. I've not seen a reputable, unbiased study provide any conclusive evidence of correlation or causation between video games and violence. 

As far as kids are concerned I don't think it's as big a deal as some make it out to be. My dad grew up playing cowboys and indians and they knew the difference between fantasy play and reality. I wouldn't let a kid play GTA but violence isn't the first reason that comes to mind (drugs, sex, prostitution, language, etc.). Blaming video games for a child's behavior seems to me like a way to lay blame for poor parenting. Of course I don't mean to direct that at anyone or anything, but if you have a violent 8-year-old using foul language and being a bully because they've been playing GTA, is that the games fault(when it's clearly marked for adults) or is it the parent's fault for not correcting that behavior and removing adult content?

If anything, allowing kids to play video games and then directing or correcting their responses to them is a fantastic way to teach kids to work through and manage emotions like frustration and anger. 

Now, when I talk about violent games I'm talking about games that include violence(Halo, Call of Duty, GTA). Not games that are violence for the sake of enjoying violence (sadistic) like Hatred. 

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As much as there is a correlation with violent books and behavior problems. It's an age old argument that just changes the noun with each passing generation. I just recently read an article which mentioned a Japanese serial killer from the 80s. Police found manga (comics) in his place and the news outlets said that let to his murderous behavior.

As a friendly science reminder, correlation does not mean causation :D

Edited by kami
clarification: in case people don't know what "manga" means
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21 hours ago, kami said:

As a friendly science reminder, correlation does not mean causation :D

If it is an age old problem, but materials (although forms change, games, manga, video, books, etc) exist, and these materials in whatever form do appear commonly in correlation with those who appear to have behavior problems, doesn't that imply at least statistically a potential causation? It obviously isn't a smoking gun, but human emotional states are complex, and not everyone reacts the same way. It does allow certain statistical analysis though.

I would surmise that any subjection to violence can cause behavior issues, so I agree that the source is immaterial in this case. However, I do myself believe that video games in today's world do as a direct means profit from the direct display of violence with no regard to the effects on their players mental state. All in the name of entertainment huh?

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19 minutes ago, Digital said:

All in the name of entertainment huh?

I could say the same with movies and basically any media. I could also say the same about sex. Just look at how that's portrayed in our media. -_-

20 minutes ago, Digital said:

I would surmise that any subjection to violence can cause behavior issues

Subject any human to anything and you can bring out just about any behavior you want. That's kind of why I find this argument pointless. We're malleable. Are video games, or any sole material, to blame? Of course not. It's a combination of factors. Just as someone can grow up playing and watching the most violent things ever and be a total sweet heart, someone growing up with little to no media interaction could be a murderer. (Timely that I just watched a doc on Jeffery Dahmer who, from what was shown/explained in the documentary, basically was never known to seek out violent entertainment, but murdered 17 people.) There's an infinite number of variables, it's just silly to me to point at just one thing.

Speaking from my own perspective, I grew up surrounded by violent video games (Mortal Kombat, other fighter games), violent movies (Matrix, Gladiator, etc), and to my own knowledge and self understanding, do not find myself to have any physical or mental violent tendancies. (To be fair, I am a woman, so there is also gender bias in that, as society doesn't view women to be violent.)

I know those are just two specific cases (Dahmer and myself), but I honestly think it just goes back to "there are too many factors to narrow down the cause of one mental behavior to be able to blame it all on one thing." Entertainment and media are just one facet of our society (and even then, it can be broken down to hundreds of sub-sections). It's illogical to say, "the media is making our children violent!"

Does that mean they do nothing? Of course not. Look at how sex and women are portrayed to young boys in video games, going back to that example. We're actively promoting sexism and objectification to children, and many boys (and girls) can end up thinking that that's okay. That can effect some people, but that's not the sole source, and we shouldn't treat it as such. /Can/ it be bad? Yes. I honestly think it would be more of an okay thing if we pushed more for higher education and understanding of ourselves and society as a whole.

(Sorry I kind of bounced around a bit, kind of have a headache atm xD)

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On 4/20/2017 at 5:16 PM, Digital said:

If it is an age old problem, but materials (although forms change, games, manga, video, books, etc) exist, and these materials in whatever form do appear commonly in correlation with those who appear to have behavior problems, doesn't that imply at least statistically a potential causation?

Not at all. Correlation never by itself implies causation, especially when you have SO many factors. One of the big things about correlation is the understanding that while there might be a relationship there isn't a definition to it. There's no real way to determine if the video games are the root cause of the violence, or if it's the struggle with violence that draws someone to the violent games.

I'm always disappointed when I hear in the news that some violent person was an avid COD player, insinuating blame on the video game. I've been and avid COD player as have millions of people who have never been or had violent tendencies. This automatically blows a huge hole in the hypothesis, so it has to be reworked. With the correct circumstance, video games can cause violence. That begs the question, what are those circumstances, and can you ever prove without a doubt that repeating those circumstances in addition to video games always leads to a violent end? Well that brings up a whole other debate on free will, determination and individual responsibility. It also seems to pull the responsibility for the violent action away from the perpetrator and onto a media they happened to consume. 

 

On 4/20/2017 at 5:16 PM, Digital said:

However, I do myself believe that video games in today's world do as a direct means profit from the direct display of violence with no regard to the effects on their players mental state. All in the name of entertainment huh?

If you want to be critical about violence in one source of media, you have to look at the others too. Movies, TV, Internet, books, all of it. In the same way if you were to restrict the video game industry's use of violence then you would have to restrict all of the others. 

I think there's kind of a big point being missed here though. Even IF all of these violent media sources do cause some kind of negative effect on children, is it that media's fault for existing or is it the guardians fault for not restricting the access to a child? If someone legitimately came up to me and said that GTA caused their child's behavior problems I would have no problem asking why the heck they let their child play GTA? We have to be careful to not remove the responsibility of the parents or faults in ideology by blaming media and entertainment. 
 

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14 hours ago, Syntax said:


I think there's kind of a big point being missed here though. Even IF all of these violent media sources do cause some kind of negative effect on children, is it that media's fault for existing or is it the guardians fault for not restricting the access to a child? If someone legitimately came up to me and said that GTA caused their child's behavior problems I would have no problem asking why the heck they let their child play GTA? We have to be careful to not remove the responsibility of the parents or faults in ideology by blaming media and entertainment. 
 

^ This wins the debate.

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Video games in an of themselves do not cause people to become violent. This has been shown in numerous well-controlled clinical studies that can be projected to the general population. There is a good discussion of the topic here:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/pop-psych/201610/violence-in-games-does-not-cause-real-life-violence

If people perceive a correlation, it is likely other factors are at play. Human to human interaction has the most effect on children's development and mental growth. They pattern themselves on how they are treated, not what they see on a screen (although they can be more comfortable seeing guns, blood, nudity, etc. if they are exposed to a lot of it). It is well established that children who are treated poorly at home are more likely to bully other kids at school. 

And, yes, all that @Syntax said. :+1: 

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8 hours ago, N_E_Wunn said:

Video games in an of themselves do not cause people to become violent. This has been shown in numerous well-controlled clinical studies that can be projected to the general population. There is a good discussion of the topic here:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/pop-psych/201610/violence-in-games-does-not-cause-real-life-violence

If people perceive a correlation, it is likely other factors are at play. Human to human interaction has the most effect on children's development and mental growth. They pattern themselves on how they are treated, not what they see on a screen (although they can be more comfortable seeing guns, blood, nudity, etc. if they are exposed to a lot of it). It is well established that children who are treated poorly at home are more likely to bully other kids at school. 

And, yes, all that @Syntax said. :+1: 

@N_E_Wunn: What about violence on tv shows and news shows? Do these cause children to be more violent?

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 I hate the idea that just being exposed "bad things" will corrupt you as if you were pure by default. Maybe it's because I've gone to theory groups with adults desperately trying to pick up the pieces of their lives but I tend to think us humans are far to complex for that. There are just so many factors that go into who we are and how are shaped to be who we are.

I guess my question is; Was little Timmy going be a good person before being exposed to video games? Was the game really the spark or was he going to break down some how regardless?

 

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