Can Video Games Cause Violence?

No April Fool's joke post today, sorry.   In the meantime, here is a new Psychology Today post.

When the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision on the Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association case on June 27, 2011, that ruling not only established that video games were covered under the First Amendment but that video game content could not be regulated by governments.    Part of the reason for the court ruling was that psychological research linking violent games and violence was “unpersuasive”.    Though psychological research is often used in the courtroom in issues relating to child safety, the lack of consistent findings connecting video games to violent behaviour in children helped sway the court against regulation.

Moral panics over the potentially damaging effects of media violence on children are hardly new.  Along with Frederic Wertham’s crusade against comic books during the 1950s, similar concerns have been raised over violence in movies, television, and the Internet though the link between media violence and violent behaviour in children has never been reliably demonstrated.

Beginning in 1983 when U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop implicated violent video games as a leading cause of family violence, news stories about video games such as Death Race (allowing players to run over “gremlins”) and Custer’s Revenge (with a naked Custer avoiding arrows to have sex with a Native American woman) have helped reinforce the idea that graphic violence in video games was potentially harmful.  In 1994, the video game industry established the Educational Software Rating Board (ESRB) as a voluntary system where video games could be rated according to violence or other inappropriate material.   Rating video games according to age-appropriate categories was intended to prevent underage children from playing games considered too intense for them. 

To read more, check out the post here.


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