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December 04, 2007


David Hayward

The comparison to smoking is a bizarre one; I'm dying to know how they quantify it. Admittedly I'm partisan, but the study sounds like crap going on what's been reported.

I recently bought this:

and the conclusion of the (very short) chapter on videogames was basically "Erm, noone really knows if they're harmful or not".

Pro-censorship/insulation arguments also disturb me, in that they seem to assume a magic switch clicks on at a certain age, allowing people to understand certain content or acts.


The studies I've read about that make this sort of connection aren't asserting that children then turn into axe-murderers or otherwise become physically violent, but instead are more aggressive on a social level in how they deal with others and potentially have a less empathetic response to acts of violence. I think the idea is that seeing violent programming and playing violent games ends up normalizing aggression as an acceptable way of dealing with problems. (This also means that those "kid-friendly" shows that involve a lot of bloodless fighting are perhaps as bad as the "violent" games and movies that are being popularly demonized.)
If these studies are correct (and I'm not saying they are), then teaching children how to "handle" violent images doesn't help- it's a pervasive media message that can only be countered by driving home the idea that aggression isn't a proper response to a problem.
Of course this influence, if true, isn't confined to violent movies and games, as I've also read studies that found that adults became more aggressive towards others after reading violent Bible passages (or even just violent texts that they were told came from the Bible)!

Hugh "Nomad" Hancock

Aggressive != violent. Speaking as a reasonably aggressive guy, I think that's an important distinction.

I'm also not entirely certain I'm comfortable with aggression being defined as purely bad - a certain amount of aggression is very healthy and useful in day-to-day life.

Finally, I'm surprised that this hasn't been pulled out as a key element: "showed that children who watch violent television shows and ... believe they are real". Er, yeah, I've got to say, if I meet a child who believes that both Ratchet and Clank really exist, I'm going to be concerned, violent media or no.


My personal view is that any condemnation of computer games as being a significant contributing factor to violence in children is a cop out by parents and the authorities.
There are a great many socio-economic factors involved. You don't turn into a crazed maniac after watching a computer game. It is a cop out to suggest otherwise and negligence on the part of those who seek to find a cause.

Of much greater harm is the mind-bending crap that people like David Icke spin every day. Now that really is dangerous.



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