All Those Evil Violent Video Games Apparently Failed At Turning Kids Into Deviant Murder-Terrorists

from the oops dept

We all know that society is going straight down a hellish toilet bowl. We know this mostly because everyone says so. Violence is rampant, sex is carried out with all the care of discussing the weather, and generally we’re squashing morality like it was a bug walking across the concrete. And we all know who the real culprits of all this immorality are: teenagers.

Fucking teenagers, amirite? This shitty little demographic of our future adult class is basically torpedoing the American dream, with its drugs and sex and school violence. Except, of course, none of that is true. We’ve made it a point here to talk about how misguided people seem to generally be about how our children behave and to point out how every generation seems to think the next generation sucks at everything. But did you know we have actual data on this as well?

The federal government asks thousands of teenagers dozens of questions about whether they are all right. Since 1991, it has sent something called the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey to more than 10,000 high school students every other year, to inquire about all sorts of bad behaviors that range from drug use to unprotected sex to fighting at school.

The overarching question this survey asks is basically: How much trouble are you getting into?

The answer, lately, has been, “Not that much at all” — especially when you compare today’s teens with their parents, who came of age in the early 1990s.

Vox has a useful tool that allows you to input your year of birth and get some basic survey results as to how youth today compared to the youth of your time. I put in 1982, the year I graced this universe with my presence, and got the following results.

You were 15 years old in 1997 and we’re sorry to say, chances are relatively high that you and your friends were up to no good. Here’s how you stack up against today’s high school students:

-In 1997, 36.4 percent of teenagers smoked. Now, 15.7 percent do. That’s a 57 percent decline.

-Teenagers today are 38 percent less likely to binge drink than you and your classmates were. In fact, they’re 16 percent less likely to have ever tried alcohol at all.

-47 percent fewer teen girls have babies now compared to you and your high school classmates. Teens today are also 22 percent less likely to have had sex before they turned 13.

Huh. Turns out we were the little shits and today’s kids are better on lots of moral questions. It’s almost like societal progress produces tangible results. But the really interesting part is in the wider table that compares all kinds of questions and results for today’s youth with the youth of yesteryear.

I’d like to focus for a moment on a couple of these categories: physical fighting, consideration of suicide, carried a weapon to school, and carried a gun in the past 30 days. Those would be all the questions that would have anything to do with violence. And, if you graphed each one of them over the period of time the questions were asked, each one of them is trending downward or showed no trend at all. Which brings up the obvious question: where are all the violent children that violent video games and media are supposedly creating?

All kinds of researchers, politicians, and television personalities have informed us of the horror that violent gaming is unleashing amongst our youth, and yet the data shows otherwise. To talk about curing an ill that doesn’t actually exist isn’t an exercise in morality; it’s called snake-oil salesmanship. As the study says, the kids are alright, so we can finally stop the hand-wringing over entertainment now?

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Comments on “All Those Evil Violent Video Games Apparently Failed At Turning Kids Into Deviant Murder-Terrorists”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

“so we can finally stop the hand-wringing over entertainment now?”

Sadly no, because now terrorists can shoot messages into walls to radicalize your babies!!

Besides if we somehow stopped managing to blame external forces for screwing up kids, we might have to look at our own failings…. and no one wants that when you can point the blame elsewhere.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Subliminal propaganda and mind-control lasers

In the 70s and 80s we were terrified the reds were conditioning our kids through television and movies and rock-&-roll and comic books to embrace Soviet communism and turn on the capitalist devils.

So the enemy changes, but the nefarious plots stay the same.

The Russian Embassy in Washington did use a microwave laser bug on government buildings to listen in by monitoring the vibrations of walls. It allegedly gave passers by headaches and dizzy spells. The US had the same laser technology but it was infrared. It worked only on windows, could hear the mice in the walls and didn’t cook people.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Subliminal propaganda and mind-control lasers

I did. The Communist Plot was seldom the same, but there were dozens of rumors of insidious means by which the Soviets were trying to undermine western culture.

I’ve yet to find any of them that had actual merit. But the stories were pretty rampant in the midwest. Mind you, it was an era when ghosts and extra-terrestrials were also taken more seriously.

It’s not like we could look this stuff up on Wikipedia.

Anonymous Coward says:

“physical fighting, consideration of suicide, carried a weapon to school, and carried a gun in the past 30 days.” Of those, only the first equates to violence.

Suicide is nobodies damn business except the person committing it, and is often the antithesis of violence against others, since the person chooses to remove themself instead of others.

Carrying a weapon to school does not equate to violence. Ask any kid in the 70s who was on a rifle team. I carried weapons in school, and 20 years later still have never shot someone, stabbed someone, or even hit back.

Carrying a gun also does not equate to violence. Often it equates to a reduction in violence, because the stakes are too damn high. Concealed Carry holders are some of the more conscientious less violent people out there.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Bogus violence indicators

Considering suicide could be (but is not necessarily) an indicator that someone else is violent to the point that the survey respondent would rather suicide than deal with the problem. It could also be a general depression indicator, and even if the depression is caused by problems at school, those problems may not be physical violence.

Carrying a weapon to school could also be read as a violence related indicator. Given how aggressively schools punish technical violations, such as bringing in a prohibited weapon, the respondent would need to be desperate or stupid to bring a weapon to such a school. Desperation could be (but is not necessarily) caused by other violence at school that the respondent feels can only be countered by a weapon.

Agreed on the point that carrying a gun is not a violence indicator, particularly if the survey is so poorly phrased that it encourages a “Yes” answer from respondents who handled the gun lawfully (which, as a minor, has extra rules relative to a law-abiding legal adult). As another poster notes, there are plenty of lawful non-violent uses of guns.

William Fresh says:

A life flipped upside down

“You were 15 years old in 1997 and we’re sorry to say, chances are relatively high that you and your friends were up to no good.”

Very true. My buddies and I caused a lot of trouble in our block. A low point was when we picked a fight with some skinny kid who just wanted to play basketball out by the playground. It really wasn’t much, but his mother was so frightened, that she moved him out to live with some relatives out west.

Anonymous Coward says:

Carried a gun in the last 30 days?

So if you carried a gun you are automatically deemed violent? What if you carried a gun to the range for target shooting with your friends or family? What if you went hunting? You gotta love loaded questions like that. Makes you wonder about their whole survey. I have been around and owned guns for nearly all my life and I am not even remotely violent.

But, if we want to draw inferences here, this survey shows that people are less violent today even though gun ownership is at an all time high. Guess more guns does not equal more violence. That doesn’t play well with the liberal narrative.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Actually, many are. They were “provided” legal council who are over worked and under paid. Most defendants are convinced by said council, that they are better off with a plea deal than the more than likely loss in court – even though they did not commit the crime they are accused of.

Land of the free and home of the brave – if you have the money

bob says:

so many people can't possibly be wrong!

The fact that no data has been found proving that violent video games cause violence is only proof that the gaming industry has successfully implemented encryption and gone dark so that survey takers can’t get truthful results.

Besides we have so many people spouting the message that video games are to blame. How can they be wrong when so many people say it.


To quote the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast, “… and 50 Frenchmen can’t be wrong…”

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