Do Violent Games Inspire Violent Behavior in Children?

Last Updated on June 14, 2018 by Michael Brockbank

Is your child preparing to go on a murderous rampage on the streets because of a video game? According to some parents, violent games prompt violent behavior. But is this truly a state of fact or simply poor parenting skills?

I’m not saying that games don’t promote some kind of influence, even on a subconscious level. After all, who hasn’t called in sick to play something like EverQuest or Warcraft back in the day?

This is an obsession, not an addiction. I’ll go over that aspect in a later article.
[template id=”145″] For now, let’s look at why some of these so-called studies can have alternative outcomes for violent games inspiring violent behavior.

Too Many External Variables to Consider

Studies like these are full of problems when trying to determine quantifiable evidence to support gaming and the state of the mind. Here are just a few that may be more of an influence than something like “Fortnite.”

Inactive Parenting

Too many parents want to be “friends” with their children. As a result, kids are often allowed to push boundaries beyond their limits.

I saw this the other day when a 9-year old punched his father in the face because he couldn’t ride an attraction at Elitch Gardens. What did the parents do? Absolutely nothing. No repercussions.

My kids wouldn’t dare do something like that because they know where the line is. I made that perfectly clear their entire lives. Plus, my kids have more respect when it comes to adults…again, something I taught.

I’m not saying that all parents of disturbed children are bad. My point is how often it plays a role for aggressive tendencies. Children get their cues from parents, and bad cues will lead to bad behaviors.

There was a game running around the school back when my boys where 12 and 13. It was nothing more than killing people without a purpose or a plot. I mean, this was on a whole other level than just Battle Royales like “Fortnite” and “PUBG.”

Immediately, I banned it in the house and locked the website out of my Internet router. I also had a discussion with the boys regarding senseless killing and why I banned that particular game.

Abusive Situations in the Home

Do these studies only select candidates who come from proper homes and don’t experience anxiety in any form? A child who feels unsafe and oppressed is going to eventually lash out. And a lot of times it’s because of abusive situations in the home.

And I’m not just talking about beatings with stick or being thrown into kitchen appliances. I’m also talking about verbal and emotional damage that is incredibly real to a young mind.

I came from a broken home, have been abused and have been playing violent games my entire life. If anyone was a candidate for aggressive behavior, I would surely fall into that category. Needless to say, I’ve never been arrested for violent crimes.

On the contrary, I’m deathly afraid of jail let alone spending time in prison.

Video games of all types were my way to escape and take a breath when the world seemed to close in. In fact, some therapists will use gaming to treat depression. The trick is to teach children to cope in addition to having an outlet for frustration. [note]https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/two-studies-explore-how-video-games-can-treat-depression-0110171[/note] [template id=”505″]

Abusive Situations in School

Bullying is nothing new, really. Although, I’ve noticed a large portion of it today is because the parents don’t set boundaries for their kids. I’m going through similar situations with my 11-year old as I know her bully’s parents.

Do these studies take schoolyard abuse into account when determining their results? I’ve yet to read one that does.

Anxiety from sharing the same space with a bully can easily compound on a child. Even though they are young, kids are still human. It’s in our nature to lash out when things get to a boiling point in our minds.

I didn’t have much of a problem with this in school myself. Mostly because my parents supported defending myself, even if it came to violence. The rule was never to start a fight, but I can finish one. As a result, I spent more time in the principal’s office than he did.

My point is that stress from school can be just as much of a factor for violence as any video game.

Data is Easily Skewed to Support a Narrative

In a world of “fake news,” it’s difficult to come across facts as so many people will skew data to support a talking point. Unfortunately, this can go both ways to support and deny violence in gaming.

However, this doesn’t mean that data should be ignored. What it means is that parents should read all of the studies and come up with their own solutions.

Here’s an example of skewing data. Of every child exhibiting violent behavior from video games, 100% of them breathe oxygen. Does this mean that air causes violence? I know this is a bit extreme, but you get the point.

A Lack of Solid Evidence

Sure, you’ll find a few studies that “prove” violent games lead to violent behaviors. However, you’ll also find a slew of evidence to the contrary. In fact, some of the best researchers can’t find evidence to prove violent games inspire violence. [note]https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/01/180116131317.htm[/note]

I mentioned pushing a narrative just a second ago. It’s common practice for organizations to lean one way or another to facilitate a certain belief. For instance, the America Psychological Association produced a report in 2005 stating how violent games lead to violent children. However, it was found that the report was full of inconsistencies and problems collecting data. [note]http://theconversation.com/its-time-to-end-the-debate-about-video-games-and-violence-91607[/note]

What Can You Do?

I can’t say exactly what every parent should do. There are simply too many factors that come into play when it comes to aggression. But before you blame video games, take a look at your surroundings. And I’m not just talking about what’s in your living room.

Do you know the names of your child’s friends in school? Do you know their parents? How often do you actually have a conversation with your child? It’s small things like this that can offer a great deal into the mind of your kid.

Every child is unique. His or her needs are going to change from one day to another. The best we can do is be a parent and be involved in the lives of our kids whether they want us there or not. A child’s actions are influenced by our own.

The trick is to catch certain behaviors before you see it on the news.[template id=”543″]

Michael Brockbank
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Michael Brockbank

Michael developed ColoradoPlays to help various charities through his favorite pastime. Since then, the blog and Twitch channels have donated several hundred dollars to Extra Life, Geeks of Grandeur and Operation Supply Drop to name a few.