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Psychological Effects of Violent Video Games

Powerful Essays
When Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School last year and murdered 26 people, the majority of them small children, the nation was horrified. The latest in a series of mass shootings perpetrated by children against other children, the media coverage of the event sent news outlets into a familiar refrain: Lanza loved guns and violent video games, just like the Columbine killers and other disturbed teenagers who kill their classmates. Repeatedly, when trying to understand why these children kill, graphic violence in video games emerges as one of the elements that shoulders the blame. It would be wonderful if merely eliminating graphic violence in video games would solve the problem, but doing so would not solve the problem. No study has ever established that graphic media violence causes teenagers to commit murder. Although, some studies have established a link between aggressive behavior and exposure to violent video games, such games should not be legislatively banned because it is the prerogative of parents and guardians to monitor video game usage in the home.

The desire to find meaning after tragedy has created a myth that there is a direct correlation between school shootings and video game violence, but no such relationship exists. In her article “Do Video Games Kill?” sociology instructor and author Karen Sternheimer explains that in the search for an explanation, the link between video games and violence became part of our national lore. She asserts that “politicians and other moral crusaders frequently create ‘folk devils,’ individual or groups defined as evil or immoral” to allow us to “channel our blame and fear” and provide the comforting illusion that since we know who or what to blame, we know how...

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...mes. Rather than pander to a popular culture myth, legislative efforts should focus attention and funds on issues outside of the home, such as de-stigmatizing mental illness. Parents are capable of deciding what is appropriate in their homes for their own children.

Works Cited

Sternheimer, Karen. “Do Video Games Kill?” Perspectives on Contemporary Issues: Readings Across the Disciplines. Katherine Anne Ackley, Ed. 6th ed. Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning, 2009. 204-210. Print.

Thompson, Clive. “You Grew Up Playing Shoot ‘em-Up Games. Why Can’t Your Kids?” Wired.com. 9 Apr. 2007. Web. 19 Feb. 2014.

Walsh, David Ph.D. “Video Games and Learning.” Mind Positive Parenting. Drdavidwalsh.com. 4 Dec. 2012. Web. 14 Mar 2014.

---. “Video Game Violence and Public Policy.” The University of Chicago Public Policy Center. n.d. Web. 19 Feb 2014.
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