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?

Hide this

Thank you for reading this Techdirt post. With so many things competing for everyone’s attention these days, we really appreciate you giving us your time. We work hard every day to put quality content out there for our community.

Techdirt is one of the few remaining truly independent media outlets. We do not have a giant corporation behind us, and we rely heavily on our community to support us, in an age when advertisers are increasingly uninterested in sponsoring small, independent sites — especially a site like ours that is unwilling to pull punches in its reporting and analysis.

While other websites have resorted to paywalls, registration requirements, and increasingly annoying/intrusive advertising, we have always kept Techdirt open and available to anyone. But in order to continue doing so, we need your support. We offer a variety of ways for our readers to support us, from direct donations to special subscriptions and cool merchandise — and every little bit helps. Thank you.

–The Techdirt Team

Filed Under: video games


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    Mr Big Content, 6 Apr 2016 @ 11:40pm

    Carying Less Guns Means MORE Violence!!!

    Are these kids crazy!? Dont they know that guns dont CAUSE Violence, they PERVENT it?!?! Their just making themselves more VICTIMS OF SENSELESS VIOLENCE by NOT carrying guns!

    Somebody help them and show them the True Way PLEASE, while theirs still TIME to SAVE THERE SOULS!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Apr 2016 @ 11:49pm

    Societal progress or the modern nanny state +mobile phones, including find "my" phone.

    Its a good trend but it comes at the cost of freedom, they simply don't have the chance to be little shits and if they do someone probably take a photo the first time they try.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Apr 2016 @ 11:55pm

    "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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 7 Apr 2016 @ 1:40am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2016 @ 6:01am

        Re: Subliminal propaganda and mind-control lasers

        "microwave laser"

        Isn't that referred to as a maser?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          JoeCool (profile), 7 Apr 2016 @ 9:19am

          Re: Re: Subliminal propaganda and mind-control lasers

          Yes, engineers and scientists call it the 'maser' and know it was invented before the laser, however, the press tends to call it a microwave laser since more regular people are familiar with the laser while not knowing what a maser is.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        jupiterkansas (profile), 7 Apr 2016 @ 7:31am

        Re: Subliminal propaganda and mind-control lasers

        "we were terrified" - I never met anyone that thought that.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2016 @ 8:04am

          Re: Re: Subliminal propaganda and mind-control lasers

          Many politicians wanted you to be.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 7 Apr 2016 @ 10:00am

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2016 @ 12:54pm

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

            Amusingly the Soviets had essentially the same moral panics about capitalists corrupting their youth apparently. Perhaps it is a human firmware bug.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2016 @ 7:37am

        Re: Subliminal propaganda and mind-control lasers

        we were terrified the reds were conditioning our kids

        Slight correction, the politicians were terrified,
        They were terrified that different politicians with a different view on society would be elected to replace them.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2016 @ 1:19am

    "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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2016 @ 9:34am

      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.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2016 @ 1:43am

    Anyone got a link to this tool?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 7 Apr 2016 @ 5:20am

    Just wait for the next version

    Those evil violent video games may have failed at turning kids into deviant murder terrorist copyright pirate sex maniac drug addicts.

    But just wait for version 2.0. They'll get it right.

    The sky really will fall next time. You just wait and see. The ${left | right} political party's evil plan will work.
    /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2016 @ 6:03am

    Be afraid, be very afraid.
    Fear sells, almost as much as sex.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    William Fresh, 7 Apr 2016 @ 6:37am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2016 @ 6:52am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2016 @ 7:21am

    Don't worry, anyone with a weighted opinion will just call all teenagers liars for these tests and continue rabbling.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      crade (profile), 7 Apr 2016 @ 9:49am

      Re:

      I did a survey at a prison and found that most of the inmates there were actually innocent! Who knew! :)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2016 @ 11:12am

        Re: Re:

        You win the internet for the day!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2016 @ 11:24am

        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

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 7 Apr 2016 @ 7:33am

    If there are old people yelling at how immoral you are and how things were better in the jurassic era they lived then you are probably doing it right. Improving and changing things to a better state always produce generation clashes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    crade (profile), 7 Apr 2016 @ 7:49am

    So what you are saying is not only are kids getting into more trouble, they are lying more too!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bob, 7 Apr 2016 @ 11:44am

    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.

    /s

    To quote the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast, "... and 50 Frenchmen can't be wrong..."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

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



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

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



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Make this the First Word or Last Word. No thanks. (get credits or sign in to see balance)    
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Recent Stories

This site, like most other sites on the web, uses cookies. For more information, see our privacy policy. Got it
Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.