A Look At Video Games And Youth Violence

from the not-so-connected... dept

Every few months there seems to be yet another story from some worked up adult about how video games should be blamed for youth violence. There’s even a lawyer who has made quite a career out of being the blame the video game lawyer. Any time there’s a youth crime committed, and the kid played violent video games, that lawyer is there, trying to take the responsibility off of the kid who committed the crime, and putting it on the video game makers. Never mind that most studies have suggested that there’s no real link between violent video gaming and violent acts — and that, in some ways, violent video games may act as a way for kids to “vent” their frustration, rather than taking actual action. However, it seems to touch a nerve and people automatically seem to react badly to those who suggest that violent video games might not lead to real life violent acts. This is going to get some more attention with all of the bogus hype around Grand Theft Auto, but duke ferris has written in to point out an interesting analysis that, at least in the aggregate, suggests that it would be quite difficult to prove a connection between video gaming and violence as the reports of youth violence have continually dropped as video games have become more popular. Of course, that doesn’t necessarily answer the question on an individual basis — it certainly does give some fodder against those who seem to think that video games are causing a youth violence epidemic.

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “A Look At Video Games And Youth Violence”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
z0idberg says:

Re: For example

we have had the technology to make a video game that looks like a two dimensional black and white cartoon since the commodore 64.

heres a link to a random news story that is totally unrelated to what we are talking about.

mandy says:

Re: Re: No Subject Given

This guy reminds me of Frederic Wertham, the crusading psychiatrist who blamed gruesome True Crime-type comic books for juvenile delinquency in the 1950s… with no real studies to back up his claims. Nevertheless excerpts from his book “Seduction of the Innocent” were picked up by many media outlets till congress held hearings and the publishers self-policed with the Comics Code. Seems kinda quaint in retrospect, though some of those EC comics were really gruesome… some had way more graphic violence than today’s video games…. wife beatings (and stabbings and axes in the skull) and all the taboo topics in exremely gory detail.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: No Subject Given

Yeah, the reference is common sense you idiot. Of course – one could say violent movies cause people to do violent things too…

But the history of movies and media don’t seem to support that. How many people go running through town with M-60’s shooting it up because they seen Rambo? None that I know of.

Naaaaaa, you should blame Ozzy and his music.

been there done that – same crap now – first it was movies destroying the earth, then heavy metal music, then rap, now it’s video games.


Mike Lat says:

No Subject Given

I agree, kids should not get their hands on rated M games. Kids are not mature enough to be playing these kinds of games, and simply not allowing M games to be sold to kids under 16 or something is completely fine with me. In my opinion, the ERSB rating system is very accurate. It would make the word much better.

However, I do not support or agree with Jack Thompsons execution on games. Instead of rallying support from other adult gamers (I don’t even think I apply as a “gamer”, I only play halo 2 and other FPS games occationally, mostly with buddies), JT keeps ratting out all gamers as “brainless” or “on drugs”. I guess that applies to those police officers too doesn’t it JT?

JT is just attempting to grab the publics attention by excessively blaming things on video games and such. He attempts to relate it to religion (I have no problem with his religion, but he attempts to speak for everyone in the US when he says it’s against the bible to play games, im agnostic, not christian). He relates every piece of evidence he can, but steers clear of the evidence against it in fear that his career of lies and harrassment are over.

Thankfully I live in Canada. Our political voices and lawyers know the facts about video games already.

Adam says:

Violence in video games,hurting each other, NOT TR

well ive been writing a 5 page report for violence in video games and came to some thinking
what about the old days when kids still commited some of these crimes. in an ever changing world we seem to forget the past and look on toward the future well i say we need to think about the times of jack the ripper or hitler or all the other horrific events that blaming now we would blame on video games all the death back them if someone would have shot someone i bet we would be living in a censored enviroment censored music and other things censored movies and mostly no games but learing games who really wants to sit down and learn more stuff from a video game when you could be talking with people half way across the world and learing just as muc that way. i say that buying a Mature rated game for a kid under the age of 14 is a bad idea cause that age and the younger ages seem to be more impressionable about things we cant have them think they fully know right from worng most people dont understand that they rate them for a reason and that reaon is to have the parent look at the rating and tell there child no because of the rating things would be better if they actually followed what it say if it says m dont buy it for your kid if you dont want it to affect them. and another thing i read about……

Video Games to treat ADD?

whats all this about people like that are the most impressionable i say because of the chemical imbalance and i should know i myself have ADHD and BI-Polar 2 and ive been playing games for many years everyone at the gamestop in my town knows me by name i have a hard time finding a place where no one knows me in there town but back on the violence thing i think its just a bunch of hos posh and they should leave it alone.

michaell says:

you guys just dont get it

I have been writing a report on violent video games for school and I think this whole debate is stupid i mean if the parents dont agree with the whole rated “m” crap then why the heck buy the games?

i found when doing my paper that the sucide rate rose in adults thats a crap load of youth violence right there

Alex says:

The whole video game crap

Are you guys eating Coca crack puffs or something? Video Games arent making kids violent. Take a look at Japan and all the violent video games they have made! It’s the parents and how they are raising them… I know cause i AM a kid AND a gamer… it’s the parents… Don’t believe me if you have to but its true. Now stop the crap and get over it!! For gods sake!

justanotherkid says:

Re: The whole video game crap

so you say it’s the parents? i think you are eating crack puffs man look at the society today.sure maybe it aint the games but, maybe it aint the parents either. that’s like saying if you’re raised bad you’ll be bad and if you’re raised good you’ll be good either way it’s all crap. the games and music today just dont help demote violence and everyone knows it.

justanotherkid says:

Re: The whole video game crap

so you say it’s the parents? i think you are eating crack puffs man look at the society today.sure maybe it aint the games but, maybe it aint the parents either. that’s like saying if you’re raised bad you’ll be bad and if you’re raised good you’ll be good either way it’s all crap. the games and music today just dont help demote violence and everyone knows it.

Dyllan says:

Re: Re: The whole video game crap

im just speaking my mind if you have a problem with it take you narrow mindid ass to another web sight. Any idiot knows that the way they act they learn from people they look up to. like your talking about me doing crack well you didnt just think that up your self you wouldnt know how to say something like that if you had not seen or heard someone say somthing like that. The fact is when your a young child you copy people you think are cool i know cause iv been one and iv been around alot of kids. Parents are always looked up to by their kids and the kids will copy them like if the parent cuses alot the kid is gonna cuse to cause they think its ok. But if you belive it FINE you dont have to but dont try to prove me wrong or insult me i have a right to believe what i believe.

Gamerdude says:

In my opinion

You got to look at the history of violence, back in ancient times, most people blamed the books that had violent material in them.. Politicians and some narrow minded philosophers thought it had impact on the human brain and caused some stress to commit violent acts.

They had some book burnings around 367 AD, and most of them included violent material. This made the book lovers, and philosophers to go on a strike on anti-censorship during those times.

Now fast forward to the 1980’s, there wasn’t a lot of blame towards video games at that time, but at the violent movies that kids are exposed to.. Friday the 13th, Poltergeist, Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser, Tom Holland’s child’s play.. A lot of parents shift the blame towards the media and television for making their kids do dumb stuff in the streets and committing juvenile acts.

I lived around the 80’s and I can tell you that it is BS, to blame violent movies degrading society. I asked a question to a father that had a son that’s been in Juvenile detention many times.

Did you raise him, and teach him from right and wrong? He goes yea, but it’s the damn horror movies that’s controlling him to behave that way.

I didn’t want to correct him or anything, I just wanted to see from his point of view.. Then I question myself. Did his son behave this way after watching Friday the 13th or Child’s play? Or is he using these tactics as a scapegoat to hide his faults?

I think that it was his own fault that he robbed a store, and beaten people up not because of the movies, but because of peer pressure and the people that influenced him to do these things.. He joined a crypt gang at the age of 15, and they accepted him as part of the family. He thought it was ok to beat people up, and steal because the leader of the crypt gang would tell him lies… Then when it’s fed to him he becomes the product tied up in chains.

Now let’s fast forward to our modern day video games, there is a lot of controversy surrounding the hype of GTA, and other violent video games that cause kids to be violent.

Jack Thompson is trying to get Game Developers to stop making these games because it’s destroying the youth.. I mean come on, I’ve been gaming for years.. I played violent video games ever since 13, but did I pick up a sniper rifle and blow someone’s head off? Nope, never in my life did I kill someone, and even if I did do something stupid like that on purpose, I wouldn’t blame the video games, but I would blame myself.

So the point I’m trying to make is a lot of people don’t want to admit it’s their fault for murdering, stealing, selling drugs. instead they blame it on Video games, Movies, Music, a bottle of shampoo, hairnets, hair pins, a mouse, a dog… for their violent acts.

One thing that I do believe though is that, some video games can cause people to get mad when they lose, but does that always lead them to become Psychos?

It makes me mad when the mainstream media exposes this lie; Violent video games causes people to be violent is BS, all research is doing is putting more money in their pockets, but still their is no link between fantasy violence causing people to Kill.. If that was really true, then we would all be killing someone if we touched GTA for the first time, or Doom for the first time; We would have WW3, and after that the apocalypse in 5 years, then the world would be a dry desert of nothingness.

So Remember, we live in a nation of fear right now, and sometimes that fear can play tricks with most people’s minds to accept that as the truth, but sometimes people need to look at the bigger picture instead of always believing and hearing what others say in the news, or research, etc.

I hope this clears the misconception on video game violence.

If I missed something then, emal me at furiousalma33@yahoo.com.

davidlow says:

Cause and Effect

If “there’s no real link between violent video gaming and violent acts” then how could violent video games also “act as a way for kids to ‘vent’ their frustration, rather than taking actual action”?

That’s a contradiction. If video games prevent “taking actual action” then that’s a link between the two. How about this:

A link does exists between frustrated children with aggressive tendencies and their attraction to violent video games: The first causes the second. A link also exists between frustrated children with aggressive tendencies and their potential for actual violence: The first causes the second.

So of course there’s going to be a correlation between violent video games and actual violence. Neither one causes the other but both have the same cause: frustration and aggressiveness. Not that a kid who plays such a game has a problem, but a kid who is obsessed with such games at the expense of all other normal activities probably does have a problem. Violent video games can be an indicator for the likelihood of violence.

Removing the indicator is silly. That’s like removing umbrellas to stop the rain.

Anonymous Coward says:

all posted my juveniles

ok so you think that violence does not breed violence then take it out of the equasion and what do you get perfect peace. all of these postings against “video violence” are probably posted by juveniles who are looking for another reason to blame “The oppression” the fact is and studies DO prove it to be true, that violence wether in video games or in the real world, breeds violence you can blame your parents all you want but at the end of the day you had the free will to do what ever you wanted anyway. so dont just blame it all on the parents. many times a day do I hear the students in the school that I work refer to a certain scene or a part of a game that was violent with a gleam or almost grandourus delight on their face. and dont tell me for a second that you sitting at home playing those games are not cheering yourself on as you kill or beat someone in the game or after you stop playing that you dont feel energized by what just happened or what you just did because if you say no then you most certainly are a liar. so the youth of today need to start taking accountability for their actions instead of just blaming it on mommy and daddy or “The Man”

concerned parent says:

from a teens point of view

i am a parent myself and i am still a teen also my problem is that the people that seem to let there kids buy the movies and the video games they are to be blamed just as much as the kids. our world has gotten so out of control with the parenting skills that they have to remind and teach parents how to block the violent cartoons and place video games on higher shelfs. so the parents that have a problem with there kids and violence need to take a look over there parneting skills then blame the games HINT TO SOLVE THIS PROBLEM DONT BUY THE VIDEO GAMES AND THE MOVIES

Just a thought.... says:

Common Sense and Media Violence

Recently I have been judged a “bad parent” because I allow my seven year old to watch some violent movies, ( Blade, Underworld). This gave me the perfect topic for my thesis paper.
While researching for my paper, I realized a few things… There is a lot of the violent media in the world today.
* The average American child spends 1,023 hours watching TV and only 900 hours in school. (Media Awareness Network, 2002)
*Children will view 200,000 acts of violence and 40,000 murders by age 18. (S.C. Attorney General’s office, 2006)
The government has done it’s job of censoring the TV, Movies and Video Games and protecting our children from violence by putting rating systems into place, playing shows or movies with viewer discretion warnings, playing violent shows late at night, and having the V-chip in 13″ or larger TV’s since 1996.
As parents I think we have given control to the government to protect our children from media violence. Why have we placed the blame game on the government? It is responsibility to raise our children and to keep them from harm, not anyone else’s! I personally watch whatever she does, just so I can “cover her eyes” and keep her from that type of violence. I try to discuss movies, TV and video games with her, asking if she thinks they are real, or if she should do those things she sees to other ppl. I am trying and so far she seems to know the difference. In the end she has no one to blame but herself for the wrong things she does because she knows she made those choices.
I think parents need to spend more time censoring what their children watch and help them understand what is right and wrong. When they choose to do the wrong thing there is and will be consequences.

ME says:

personal choice

one big thing that people overlook is this: violent people seek out violent hobbies.

people who kill other people, wont play games that dont involve killing people, its simple.

the kids who attacked columbine highschool, when their house was searched, they found violent games. it wasnt because the games made them violent, its because they were crazy and thought about killing people, so they found a game where they could kill people. they went looking for it.

violence has been in society as long as there has been society (probably before it too). kids have always played war games. how many young boys played army growing up? how many of those boys are now normal business men? how many shot people?

people are inherently different. i myself am considered a violent person. im a martial art instructor, swordsmen and SCA heavy list fighter, so its not a large leap of logic to assume that i like games that have violent themes.

if i like shooting classmates, id find a game that has it. but i like fighting with swords, so i find a game that has that. im sure someones done a study to see if NBA all stars played basket ball video games when they were kids, and ill bet some of them did, and some of them didnt.

so, speaking as one of these aggressive, violent people, yes i like violent games,(i should also add that i love harvest moon, and animal crossing, two games without any violence) will i kill people because if it? no, since it seems like everytime i attack a couple hundred people with a sword, i die once or twice. and in the real world, i can only do that once.

one more point, in one of the studies linked above, they say that there was a rise in violence in the 1960s… saying that it was movie violence that did it. im sure they will say that WWII had absolutly nothing to do with it. like they said the gulf war had nothing to do with the violence in the 90s, and how this current war in iraq has nothing to do with violence now. its all video games fault

some1 says:


I dont think that video games cause violence in youth, but i do think that the youth that are playing these games think that they can do the same thing without worrying about the real concequences. if the parents let them play then w.e. but when anything happens they shouldnt blame the video games industry becuase its not their fault. parents need to know that their kids know that its just a game dont try this ever. plus i think some of these games actually help people take out their anger and frustration without harming anyone. but still they cant take it too far.

Doveed says:

Well, with all of this youth violence ive got to write a paper any other links to research.

Next, there are a lot of violent games out there there’s Halo 1 and 2, Call of Duty, Super Smash bros. if you think about it but they are just Games. If kids have good parenting and their parents know what they’re getting into then they wont do anything. For me after I have played a violent game such as halo 2 with friends I feel hyper not like overreactive but I start laughing at stupid jokes and that sort of stuff its just fun to play those games. Also me and my friends are very agressive we will punch, kick and tackle eachother if were in the right mood. Its quite fun and is an example of just having FUN. games are not a cause of youth violence and neither are movies and the media. but if you allow them to soak in too much they will start to mess you up. back up at the top of the page someone said that they think it would be smart to not sell M rated games to people under 16. I totaly agree M games are just stupid to start out with they are the games that can screw you up. They will have you shoot and kill for no reason just to do it. Like grand theft auto for example. That is the STUPIDEST game i have ever heard of. all you do is kill and destroy with no objective or purpose. At least in halo and other games you are fufilling a command from your CO to defend the place you are at or take control of a major base.

That is entirely my opinion if this seems at all irrelevent or non-orginized my bad. but more citations would be welcome

student,son,and gamer says:


let me tell you peaple a story.
Before i was born,my father tried to kill me.
he was on drugs(heroin,etc.)and didnt want to have to pay for me to live,and so he headbutted my mother over and over again to get rid of me.
he played video games ever since they first came out.
at age 2,i started playing video games(super mario,etc.)my mother knew how to raise us.i have played video games ever since.for the record i have As and Bs,and avoid conflict with other ppl mostly.i do have anger issues becuase i tend to bottle it up,but even when i release my anger,it is controlled,and even at my peak i would never intentionally kill somone unless they were going to kill me.

Fuck That! says:

Tired Of The Pointless Argument

You seem to have come to the reletive conclusion that violence in the media does not cause real violence, as some blind people tend to forget. Any one in here who plays games or watches TV or movies, or listens to music should know better than to think otherwise. What the people who accuse video games dont seem to realize is the rediculous blatency their own hypocriticality.

Im sure 99% of them probably have a TV in their own home. If TV was really the problem, wouldnt they want to get it out of their house at the earliest possible moment? Wouldnt they want to delete all of their illegal mp3s, and burnt CDs, so they wouldnt be sucked into the influence of committing a possibly violent act?

My point with asking this is to point out something that no one in here has mentioned up to this point. It doesnt trully seem to bother them too much, otherwise they would be safeguarding against it, ( the same way a person that believes in Satan wears a cross or sprinkles holy water to ward away the devils.)

I know that if i had something that i trully believe was influencing my mind in a way that i didnt want it influenced, then i would get rid of it rick-e-tick.

You can blame it on the parents and so forth. It is partially all of this. The thing is, you guys are trying to prove the unprovable. You CANT prove that bad parenting, and NOT video games, is the cause for violence. You can only prove that video games DONT cause violence. All the rest should be left alone. Allow the “experts” run their mouths. As long as they dont have concise evidence then nothing can really be done about it. We already know that there never can be any real vidence (that isnt influenced by interest) because of the fact that free will exists, and everyones free will and concience is different. Different things are wrong for different people.

The simple fact of the matter is that if one of the sides dont give up the argument, or if they dont come up with an agreeable solution, then this argument will remain forever. It will be a perpetual cycle of “this causes… yeah well this causes… that doesnt cause…”

If we know we are right, then why dont we be the mature ones and take the high road. Let them bitch and bicker about it all they want. Its much more undignifying to laugh at their accusations than it is to return fire. Think about that.

Bygone says:

I don’t think that any of these games would be any kind of prolemb if we can teach our kids good from bad… I don’t think it would be very hard to teach a young kid that going around and killing people is a bad thing… There is always going to be the bad “gang” people that don’t care about other people but we might as well take care of what is possible, to lower the percent of this

ryan says:

Everyone is raised differently and reacts differently towards violence. Saying that violent video games affect childern would be wrong.
I would say both that vilent video games sometimes releave stress from kids that are mad thus decreasing the amount of outbreaks, and in other cases they cause some calm kids to become more violent.
i would say that is why violence in children has not increased or decreased with video games coming out.

Dyllan says:

Im 15 years old i get straight A’s and all my teachers like me now looking at these facts about me you would never know that love to play violent games especially grand theft auto but the idea of actually shooting someone or jacking a car dosnt cross my mind i would never dream of it and i know alot of not so smart people who play violent games who wouldnt think of it either. The problem with kids being violent is not caused by video games. But bad parenting can cause violent acts in kids. Most kids who join gangs for example probably have a terrible life at home abuse parent relitives with drug problems etc but how many people with nice homes and parents who set a perfict example join gangs non. It parents neglect their children then those children while find someone who cares about them such as friend’s and some times those friends set bad examples leading to violent acts .Bad parenting dosnt directly cause violence but can help lead the kid to commiting violent acts.

"Superman" Sam says:


Personally I don’t think you can blame video games. It’s more like the parents fault, but since they don’t want to look bad they blame it on things they don’t like in the society. I have played violent video games since nintendo was created, and becauseI was raised properly with the knowledge of right from wrong I am able to keep video games from being close to influencing on my behavior. Parents need to take responsability if they don’t want thier children playing then keep them from doing it. I can go on and on but realistically you’ll be keeping your children ignorant instead of just teaching them that they cannot do what occurs in video games. If we outlaw violence in video games why not outlaw violence from everything. Oh thats right you can’t!

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...