Video Games Don’t Cause Violence, Negligence Does

Almost everyday I come across news articles debating if video games increase violence among children. This has been an ongoing debate for years and I’m sick of it. It doesn’t take a scientist or academic to answer the question, what it takes is common sense. No, video games don’t cause an increase in violence among children. What causes it is negligence from the parents.

Surprised? Well you shouldn’t be. Parents are the supposed to act as gatekeepers, ensuring their children are only exposed to content that reflects their morals and values. I’m not trying to be rude or come across as a dick, but I will be honest: there is no one to blame for a child’s violent behavior but the parents themselves. Parent’s tend to pass the buck when something goes wrong, failing to take responsibility for their negligence. Some will feign ignorance, others will make excuses.

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Grand Theft Auto, a game often used to cite violence in video games.

Parents often blame the game developers, scolding them for making inappropriate games for kids. However, that argument is flawed. The games in question aren’t made for children nor are they marketed towards them. In fact, game companies and retailers have taken several precautions to prevent children from obtaining violent games.

Perhaps the best known precaution is the Entertainment Software Rating Board, or ESRB ratings. This system assigns ratings that inform consumers what audience the game is appropriate for. The ratings generally range from Everyone to Adults Only, specifying the age group associated with it. On the back of the box the ESRB also explains why the game has the rating. This system has been in place for over 20 years and is a great way to inform parents if a game is suitable for their children.

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Example of an ESRB rating.

Besides the ESRB rating system, some retail stores ask for identification before selling M rated games. I have personally been carded before, and while it was annoying I do see the value in it. This practice prevents a child from purchasing violent games alone, giving their parents an opportunity to review anything before it’s purchased. While it isn’t policy at all stores, this practice can still prevent children from being exposed to inappropriate content.

But the best thing a parent can do is take time for their kids. Don’t rely technology to raise your children, otherwise they may lack empathy and feel rejected. This alone can lead to antisocial or violent behavior. Spending quality time with a child is proven to have a positive impact on them. S/he is your child, it’s up to you to raise them properly. Likewise, parents need to put in the effort to research games before purchasing them, making sure its content is appropriate. If they fail to do so the blame is solely on them.

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Parents protesting against Mortal Kombat’s lead to the creation of the ESRB.

Blaming video games for violence is just a scapegoat to shield negligent parents. Violence in our media is nothing new. From comic books to movies, it has been in our society for decades. Compared to other mediums video games are actually less influential than most, but this fact is often ignored. Instead of blaming games, parents need to take responsibility for their negligence and learn how to protect their children in an increasingly technology dependent society.

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