The Debate Against Violence in Video Games

Violence, guns, killing – in games — are these really what we want to expose to our young people today? With school shootings and adolescent serial killings, who is responsible? Who is to blame for the negative influences? Today we will show you why protection must start with you, the parent. We will show you that video games and game content are a major influence on adolescent minds in today’s society and why these influences must be stopped.

The 2 teenage boys who murdered 12 schoolmates and a teacher and injured 21 others at Columbine High School in Colorado before killing themselves, lived in a pathological environment — their lives centered around violent video games. According to analysts, a causal factor relates to the young killers’ obsessions with violent imagery in video games that led them to depersonalize their victims (Kaplan, 2012).

Even analysts on the opposing side can agree that people with certain mental illnesses, can be lead to think that violence is acceptable through video games (Urban, 2013). Mentally ill individuals are naturally more vulnerable to dramatized violence and it is easier for them to misinterpret realities (Kaplan, 2012).

So what does research show? A 2002 report by the US Secret Service and the US Department of Education, which examined 37 incidents of targeted school shootings and school attacks from 1974 to 2000 in the United States, found that over half of the attackers demonstrated some interest in violence through video games (Kaplan, 2012).

In a 2009 Policy Statement on Media Violence, the American Academy of Pediatrics said, “Extensive research evidence indicates that media violence can contribute to aggressive behavior, desensitization to violence, nightmares, and fear of being harmed” (Kaplan, 2012). Evidence strongly suggests that exposure to violent video games is a causal risk factor for increased aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, and for decreased empathy (Kaplan, 2012).

In a Psychiatric Times interview, psychologist Craig Anderson, PhD, Director of the Center for the Study of Violence at Iowa State University, said the evidence for the violence-aggression link is very strong from every major type of study design: randomized experiments, cross-sectional correlation studies, and longitudinal studies (Kaplan, 2012). Research shows that boys and girls who play a lot of violent video games change over the school year, becoming more aggressive (Kaplan, 2012).

There is also growing evidence, that high exposure to fast-paced violent games can lead to changes in brain function when processing violent images, including dampening of emotional responses to violence and decreases in certain types of executive control (Kaplan, 2012). In more recent studies within a high-risk population of incarcerated juvenile offenders, violent video games are associated with violent antisocial behavior.

If there is a chance that any of the above is true, why even take the chance?

Work Cited:
Urban, D. K. M. (2013, Jan 12). Violence in video games. McClatchy – Tribune Business News. Retrieved from

Kaplan, A. (2012). Violence in the media: What effects on behavior? Psychiatric Times, 29(10), 1-8,11. Retrieved from

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