Sunday, April 14, 2013

Video game violence = violent kids = mass murder? I don't think so!!!!!

Over the past few days, several FB friends have shared an article by Peter Brown Hoffmeister titled "On School Shooters" (, in which he hypothesizes that playing violent video games has made it easier for people to commit violent acts in real life.  He talks about how boys who play video games are not "tied in socially", "struggle in classes and with peers", and are "capable of incredible and sudden violence on screen."  In his own adolescent years, he admits to having had violent thoughts and carrying weapons.  Yet, he states the significant difference between himself and these other young men is that his mother told him "video games were evil" and that "there was something very, very wrong with pretending on a video screen."

I consider myself fortunate that the video games of interest to my son are primarily Super Mario Brothers and Kirby.  Games that are very clearly based in a fictional world with fictional characters. However, I know that many of his 12 year old peers are playing games like "Call of Duty" and "Halo."  Even Minecraft, which J does play, has a certain level of violence what with killing animals and crafting weapons and the need to defend yourself against 'creepers' (zombie like villains). Should I be worried that J is going to go out and start slaughtering farm animals? Should I be worried that the cardboard sword he made for his Halloween costume is going to someday lead to his carrying a real one?  Should I be worried that his peers who today are recreating war and video game scenarios with Nerf guns will eventually bring real ones to school?

I must respond emphatically that video games do not create violent people!!!  There is no easy answer to what leads people to commit such atrocities as Columbine or Sandy Hook, but to blame violence in video games is a cop out.   Mass shootings have a long history, way before video games or TV [].  Even Mr. Hoffmeister admits that although he did not agree with his mother, it was her opinion about video games that influenced him.  Therefore, it is my humble opinion that lack of parental interest and involvement (combined with a variety of other factors) is what leads these young people to feel isolated and with the inability to know the difference between the virtual world and the real one!

I have so much more to say on this subject, so many thoughts and responses that I must take the time to organize before I can blog about them coherently.  But the take away for today is a strong message to all the parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles/guardians - PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR KIDS!!!  Let them play video games, but be aware of what they are playing.  Discuss the video games, the TV shows, the you tube videos - make sure your children understand what they are seeing and hearing.  Play video games with them once in awhile.  After all, that is the goal of this blog - to encourage parents to co-exist with their gamer children.  This means even if you are not a gamer, suck it up and become part of that world every once in a while (like spending a day dressed as a blue Pikmin at a video game convention) -  for it will make all the difference!


  1. I did share that article, but I don't believe that violent games instantly create violent people.

    I do believe that when people with already violent tendencies (like the author of that article had when he was a teenager) play extremely violent first-person shooter games, for hours upon hours every week, with little or no adult input/feedback, then yes, they can absolutely contribute to real-life violence - not CAUSE, but contribute to.

  2. But that's exactly my point - "with little or no adult input/feedback." There are lots of factors that contribute to agressive and violent behavior, but IMO parental neglicate (or abuse) is the biggest one. To quote Cher in Clueless, "Until mankind is peaceful enough not to have violence on the news, there's no point in taking it out of shows [or video games] that need it for entertainment value." :-)

  3. Great post, Rebecca. I agree with both you and Martha. I think parental involvement is huge when it comes to averting major troubles. But I also agree with the quote you mentioned from Clueless - it's true, media is 24/7 and it's everywhere. On TV, online, on your cell phones. Absolutely everywhere. At what point do our kids become so desensitized to the violence that is portrayed so easily in the media? I can't imagine how kids in war zones cope. I truly cannot. Video games can be part of the problem - but should not be blamed exclusively. It's just too easy.