The Effect of Video Games on Youth Violence

by Kobe Cummings

    Just the other day I gunned down over 20 people and killed many others using a rocket launcher.  I am an average 15 year old high sch student who was playing the video game Call of Duty.   Many of my friends play video games that are considered violent like Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto.  None of us have done any of the things in real life that we act out while playing our video games.  Why?  I believe that we are all independent thinkers who are being raised to know the difference between right and wrong.  This helps guide us regardless of what we read in a book, watch on TV or play during a violent video game. 

    Some people believe we should ban violent video games because these games are training our youth how to kill .  In the book Fahrenheit 451, books were burned to eliminate independent thinking.  The firefighters thought they were protecting and helping society but they ended up creating a society that had no meaning.  Video games and books can be violent but people are independent thinkers, most know right from wrong and feel they have meaning to their life.  Ryan Hall, a psychiatrist at the University of Central Florida says, “There is no indication at this time that violent video games are training killers.”  Christopher Ferguson, a professor of psychology says, "Evidence is becoming clearer that violent video games are not a factor in societal violence."

    Can violent video games make aggressive youths more aggressive?  In the book Fahrenheit 451 a random man was killed because they thought it was Montag.   Even though in the book most people were taught to think the same way there were still people more aggressive than others.  In our society, just like Fahrenheit 451, some of our youth are just more aggressive than others with or without violent video games.  Craig Anderson, a psychologist at Iowa State University says, "children who play violent video games "may experience" an increase in aggressive thoughts, which "could" lead to aggressive behavior."   Andrew Przybylski, a scientist at the University of Oxford and many other psychologist are challenging Anderson even though he used words like "could" and "may" in his findings. Przbylski said, "this study does not provide an important number known as the effect size, which would describe how much violent video games account for aggressive behavior. This is important because researchers have debated whether video games really increase aggressive behavior more than other factors." 

    Susan Tortolero, University of Texas says, "we know that violence in general is associated with mental health problems" suggesting that aggressive youth will be aggressive with or without violent video games.  Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were the gunmen from Columbine High School in Colorado who killed 13 people and wounded many others before killing themselves.  It was publically stated that Eric and Dylan were not influenced by violent video games.  Peter Langman wrote in his book, Why Kids Kill; Inside the Minds of School shooters, "these are not ordinary kids who were bullied into retaliation.  These are not ordinary kids who played too many video games. These are not ordinary kids who just wanted to be famous. These are simply not ordinary kids. These are kids with serious psychological problems."    (play video)

    I don't believe that violent video games make youth more violent but I do feel that violent video games, as well as all video games, can hurt our youth.  In the book Fahrenheit 451 they spent all of their time in front of the television.  Video games, like everything else, should be in moderation. states, "too much of anything is just too much.  Too much video game playing may lead to health problems."  On it was warned that pressing the same buttons over and over again puts stress on your fingers and wrists.  Sometimes people get tingles or loose feeling in their fingers, get pain in their thumbs called "gamer's thumb" and have pain in their back and neck from sitting hunched over for longer periods of time.

    As you can see, there are many studies and opinions on the effects of video games on youth violence.  A lot of my research, along with my personal experiences with violent video games, leads me to believe that violent video games do not train killers or turn non-violent people violent but you should be careful to avoid  "gamer's thumb."


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