Do Violent Video Games Cause Violent Kids

Do violent video games make kids violent? This question has been asked by adults, gamers, theorists and scientists for many years. I repeat it again here, this time asking for a different point of view. Do violent video games make kids violent? My answer is no. 

I am not a scientist. I am not a behavior analysis. I have not studied this. My response comes from my experience and observations during my life alone. This topic came into my mind when we addressed it during my class just a few days ago. I had a differing opinion from the teacher and a few other peers so I decided I should express it, agree or disagree. 

I have been playing games like Halo, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto (GTA), Mortal Kombat and so on since I was in middle school. Having a brother turned me onto those types of games, and I honestly wouldn’t change it for the world. I would play these games for hours upon hours each week, on my own and with my brother and his friends. It was some of the most fun I had. In Halo we would play Capture the Flag, running around with weapons and heavy tanks. In Call of Duty, we would compete to see how many “kills” we could wrack up. Both of these sound pretty darn violent. So why am I not a serial killer or psychopath? 

I feel as though the biggest reason would be my parents. From the very first game we received, even before they were super violent, our parents would always check the rating, reviews and sometimes read summaries or watch videos of the gameplay. When we asked why we weren't allowed to play it, my parents would always respond with, “It is inappropriate for you to play. When you're 18, you can play anything you want.” The reason for this was less of keeping us from being violent and more so of protecting us from the very mature themes such as nudity and sex that we were ignorant of. 

The next thing my parents did may seem a little stupid and unnecessary, but I will be doing it with my children as well. I believe our first “violent game” was Mortal Kombat. Right after we got home from buying it, my mom and dad sat us down and had a talk. He told us that this game was a privilege and that if our behavior changed negatively or we got in trouble it would be taken away. He also said “This is not real. This is a game, it is fake. You cannot act this way in real life or there will be consequences.” Well, duh. Of course it's a game. But hearing those words out loud were meaningful. I am still not too sure why. 

Another thing that we did, still do sometimes, is use the game as an outlet for our emotions. I feel as though people imagine that kids take notes on what they're doing in GTA, think running over people in a hurry is a good thing and go shoot people when their game gets stressful. Personally, I think it is the exact opposite. If I had a bad day at school, I could come home and express my violence through a video game, in a safe and controlled manner. No yelling at my family, no angry words, no actions I would regret later and no violent acts towards people I know or don't. Often times, I would feel better from playing with other people or by accomplishing in-game goals. When, however, the games were upsetting us (as all games do at some point or another), my parents forced us to turn it off and do something else. If we started snapping at them or getting angry at the game, we had to stop and walk away from it, usually for the rest of the day. That kept us from getting too worked up and it showed us that getting angry like that was not okay. 

Video games do not make a person violent. The circumstances they grow up with do. My brother and I, as well as all of our friends, had a wonderful support system, not just from our parents but from each other too. Not everyone is lucky enough to have support in their life, but any violence that ensues from that is not a reflection of a video game. Some people will be violent, no matter how much support they have. Some people will be violent because that is what they grew up with, in real life not in a video game. I would much rather there be more violent video games in the world as a way for people to let out their anger in a safer manner than for them to keep it in and accidently burst at the wrong time in the wrong way. 

It is your choice as to how you handle this controversial matter. You are entitled to your own opinion. But remember to look for different points of view as well, not just those that you agree with. Keep an open mind and see things from others’ perspectives. Chat with kids that play these games sometime and see what they have to say. Their answers might surprise you.