The debate that has gone on far too long

29 March 2018

The debate that has gone on far too long

Image credit: Grand Theft Auto V © 2013 Rockstar Games Inc.

I had previously believed that we had passed the age of believing that video games were the source of your child’s anger or aggression. But as time goes on, I continue to see news articles and stories that show me that we are indeed not past this phase; and for some odd reason, parents continue to believe that video games and violent television are a significant issue in society.

Now, while I do believe too much screen time is bad for any young child, the blame for massacres and murders should absolutely not be placed on the media itself. It is a parent’s duty to monitor what their child gets up to, and the boycotting of certain games or movies is simply not the way to handle this situation.

Violent video games and movies already have age restrictions in place, and it is on a child’s carers to ensure that their child is indulging in content that is suitable for someone of their age.

For as long as this argument has been spoken about, there has been copious amounts of evidence to argue the fact that there is no direct correlation between violent video games and movies and real-world violent crime. I believe this is an excuse used by many as an “easy way out”, or a scapegoat of sorts to place the blame on something, and give a reason for why such tragedies happen so often.

Video games are an easy target, with the gun debate and gun violence being topics more relevant now than ever before — games and movies are pushed as a relevant factor, when in reality, evidence has shown time and time again that there is no real connection. The Media Psychology and Technology division of the American Psychological Association even released a statement in 2017 that encourages policymakers to discontinue the linking of mass shootings and violent media, as there is simply no sufficient evidence to prove a cause-effect relationship.

Along with this, according to Sciencedaily, researchers at the University of York have further proven the point by conducting a series of large experiments with more than 3000 participants that ultimately showed there is no relation between violent video games and real-life violence. It is simply not a valid argument, and should be left behind in 2018. It is shocking to me that we continue to perpetuate this debate that simply has no merit whatsoever.

If content involving violence was truly a factor in the psychology behind violent criminals, there would be a significantly higher number of violent crimes committed than the amount we see currently. There is an enormous population that indulges in television and video games that contain violence of some sort. With immensely popular programs such as Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad, along with the violent video games that attract audiences of millions such as Call of Duty or Fortnite, it is safe to assume that we would be seeing much more violent behavior in the world if it were truly a factor, considering how massive the combined audience of these four titles alone are.

Let’s say for a moment that video games and movies are the problem, and scientists discover that it is actually a factor in the perpetuation of real-world violence; how do we even stop this issue? There is an endless sea of violent media in the world that would almost be impossible to get in front of, even if we wanted to ban these kinds of media.

Would we flat-out ban the viewing of any violence? Would there be jail-time for indulging in such content? Would we stop at violence, or would it include sex scenes also? It is simply too massive to handle this issue in any effective capacity, and the only thing we can do is encourage parents to follow the age restrictions we already have in place for this media; and if you are unhappy with what is out there, monitor your children’s watch and play habits better.

This debate does more harm than good at this stage, and is merely getting in the way of the real solution to solving the issues of violence and mass murders around the globe. The longer we speak about this issue, the more the real solution gets further and further away. It is just ridiculous at this point, and should no longer be used as a shield to hide the real issues in society.