Violent video games cause violent behavior: truth or myth?

By Vinícius de Moraes and Henrique Nicodemo 

            It has been in discussion for years if violent games can cause a negative change in the players' behavior. After countless complaints about this issue, many negative commentaries have gained strength among kids' and teenagers' worried parents. Meanwhile, people concerned about the fact that this affirmation could be nothing more than a myth decided to make an experiment.

            Two articles were used as reference (a Brazilian one and another from The United Kingdom). The articles used, respectively, were “A Influência dos Jogos Eletrônicos Violentos nos Adolescentes”, which brings us some results  of the experiment, and “Video games are good for children – EU report”. Both articles show clearly why the behavior change affirmation is a myth.

            In the Brazilian article, twenty students between fifteen and eighteen years old were monitored and showed no negative reactions by playing violent games. And there are some comments that can be exposed:”For the educator Lynn Alves, author of the book Game Over, video games and violence, where players take on the games contained violence to reality, the desire to kill already existed with only the pretext, the motivation for the act”.

            In order to add another comment, a psychologist gives his opinion:

            “Psychologist Márcio Roberto Regis adds that there are many variables in the complex life history of the individual that can generate violent behavior such as, for example, the absence of a family education, paternal absence (which represents the law), use of drugs, bad influences of friends, trivialization of violence, among others. (ATLASPICO, 2009)”.

            The British article mentions that “there is no firm proof that playing them has an automatic negative impact on children's behavior, for example by causing aggression, said the report from the committee on the internal market and consumer protection”. It also added that "video games can stimulate learning of facts and skills such as strategic thinking, creativity, cooperation and innovative thinking, which are important skills in the information society."

            There was only one case registered in this article that points to a violent behavior which caused a death: “Last year the mother of Stefan Pakeerah, a 14-year-old boy from Leicester who was murdered by a 17-year old wielding a knife and a claw hammer, claimed her son's killer was influenced by the computer game Manhunt in which players earn points for stealth killings”.

            The group members share the same opinion of the pedagogue and the psychologist: the game itself, even though violent, is not the cause for the violent behavior, but a motivation. Of course, there are rare situations in which a kid can cause a murder just by playing a violent game (like GTA, or Manhunt), but in those cases, the parents of the kid have to realize what his son is playing. They have to be involved in his leisure (and nevertheless, they have to teach him the difference between the real and the virtual world, showing rules of acquaintanceship).

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