Student Opinion | Do Violent Video Games Make People More ...

195 20/11/2021

PhotoVice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. meeting in January with video game industry executives, a response to the Sandy Hook school shooting. Go to related article »Credit Alex Wong/Getty Images

Questions about issues in the news for students 13 and older.

Young people, especially boys, are playing bloodier and more realistic video games than ever before, and scientists are looking for links between real life violence and violent video games.However, the research so far is inconclusive.

What do you think? Do violent video games make people more violent in real life? Why or why not?

In “Shooting in the Dark,” Benedict Carey writes about research looking for connections betweenviolent video games and violent behavior.

The young men who opened fire at Columbine High School, at the movie theater in Aurora, Colo., and in other massacres had this in common: they were video gamers who seemed to be acting out some dark digital fantasy.It was as if all that exposure to computerized violence gave them the idea to go on a rampage — or at least fueled their urges.

But did it really?

Social scientists have been studying and debating the effects of media violence on behavior since the 1950s, and video games in particular since the 1980s. The issue is especially relevant today, because the gamesare more realistic and bloodier than ever, and because most American boys play them at some point. Girls play at lower rates and are significantly less likely to play violent games.

A burst of new research has begun to clarify what can and cannot be said about the effects of violent gaming. Playing the games can and does stir hostile urges and mildly aggressive behavior in the short term. Moreover,youngsters who develop a gaming habit can become slightly more aggressive — as measured by clashes with peers, for instance — at least over a period of a year or two.

Yet it is not at all clear whether, over longer periods, such a habit increases the likelihood that a person will commit a violent crime, like murder, rape, or assault, much less a Newtown-like massacre. (Such calculatedrampages are too rare to study in any rigorous way, researchers agree.)

Students: Tell us …

Do you ever play violent video games? Do your friends?Do you think violent video games make people more violent in real life?Do you think these games make people less sensitive to real-life violence, blood and gore?If you play violent video games, how do they make you feel when you play?Should legislation regarding violent video games be part of Congress’s responseto the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., or do you think violent video games are not part of the problem that leads to mass shootings?

Update: Teachers, we now have a lesson plan based on this same article: Collateral Damage? Researching a Connection Between Video Games and Violence

NOTE: Students, please use only your first name. For privacy policy reasons, we will not publish student comments that include a last name.

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