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Do Violent Video Games and Movies Cause Violence?

Rights don’t take away morality or ethics – nor do morality and ethics take away rights. Oddly enough the long discussion we’ve had as a society about violence, video games, drugs and pornography is a fertile setting for understanding how we can live in a rights based society and still find it okay to “protect” others from bad moral decisions.
I’ve heard of the movie “Faces of Death”. It’s a cult icon that rumors and myths have circulated about since it was released decades ago. If you haven’t heard of it the short synopsis is – it’s a movie that shows graphic violence and death both to humans and animals. It was released in theaters and was a huge hit. It gained new legs when VCR’s came into existence. I’m sure if I looked I could find it in full on the Internet. As we’ve discussed before, I’ve seen enough. I know the face of violence and death and have no desire to see it as entertainment. I don’t wish to be shocked, disgusted, or grossed out. I have not, nor will I see a movie like this.
Perhaps it is a sign of the security and prosperity we live under that we must seek out such things. A dull and secure life means these things are not real or to be feared and can therefore be used as an adrenaline drug. How death and violence changes a person depends, in my experience, on the person. I do not think that watching such shows will turn you into a psychopath but I do think if you already are one such things will feed you.
 
But even for those who don’t have any tendencies, the normal, ordinary person, I do not think such things should be viewed. I believe they rob a person of true emotions and alter their perceptions of the world around them. Not in a way that forces them to suicide or murder, but that situates them as someone who tends not to care as much about such things when they do happen as they should.

As long as there has been violence in video games and movies parents have worried about it.

Of course sometimes it seems the parents aren’t doing their due diligence when it comes to their kids. Take the case of a nine year old girl who spend 10 hours a day playing her XBox.

The mom recounts, “My husband saw her light on in the night and found her sitting on a urine-soaked ­cushion playing the game. She was so hooked to the game she wouldn’t even go to the toilet. This is a serious issue which is destroying our little girl’s life and someone needs to step in to ban it before it becomes an epidemic.” I question, who does the mother think needs to step in, if not her and her husband? Don’t they have the ultimate responsibility for their little girl?

Even though it’s probably true what the mother says, “We had no idea, when we let her play the game, of the ­addictive nature or the impact it could have on her mental health.” It still seems like they should have found out. Should have perhaps thought about violence and the use of their child’s time. The child even spend money every month to buy upgrades in the game to help her play. Once discovering the money the parents tried to take the XBox away. I wonder why they just tried and didn’t succeed?

For adults it’s likely there isn’t much of an issue with playing some games, even some that are a bit violent, but with children that’s a different story. Their brains are literally still forming and they can form into patterns that get locked into the brain.

The same is true of pornography.

Porn and video games are an interesting kind of drug. They aren’t ones that are injected or ingested but they give a person a rush that the person can come to want to experience again. For some this spawns addiction. The little girl above is one example. She is now in therapy to help her overcome that addiction. Even if it’s not a true addiction, it’s still a powerful enough dependence that people should be concerned.

Quite regularly we find studies come out that conclude that video games don’t turn you violent and porn doesn’t make you a rapist. I think the key there is “turn you”. No, they don’t turn you that way. They aren’t like a mind control device from a science fiction movie. But they are a bit like the slow movement of a cult or the action of a drug.

Why discuss all this?

Rights mean that a person can do something. Sometimes that means something that is bad for them. Though it’s true that people don’t often like to get advice the fact is sometimes others really do have some good suggestions. Not doing drugs, not playing games that glorify terrible violence, not watching pornography, is a bit of good advice. To counter this people will often point to the fact that in moderation such things are seldom harmful. These things all come with a real danger because by their natures they promote use beyond moderation. People ARE going to get hurt, and addicted, and psychologically messed up. We already know that CAN happen. Not that it WILL of course, but it can. It’s a danger.

In a society where rights are the basis the only way to maintain the freedom that comes with such a system while also promoting various kids of morality is to do so with persuasion. This is even more effective when the person you are trying to persuade feels you actually care for them.

Shouting about your rights, or shouting about “sin” isn’t an effective way to change people’s behavior. Some are fond of saying that “it’s none of my business” and that’s fine if that’s how you want to be but when you actually do care about people and you have an understanding about what might hurt them you want to care. Real caring. Not the fake caring that accompanies a desire to be in control of others. That’s not compassion or caring.

If we remember that rights don’t take away morality or ethics – nor do morality and ethics take away rights we will understand that the only choice we have is to put in the hard work of persuasion and actually care about others. We’ll be wise about it and honest when we’re just trying to be controlling vs actually trying to help someone in danger.

 

 

A new study published this week in Nature journal Molecular Psychology provides a well-timed rebuttal to the weary trope—occasionally alluded to by President Trump and others in the wake of mass shootings—that violent video games are causing real-life mayhem.

Source: Science Finds Once Again That Violent Video Games Don’t Turn People Into Rage Monsters

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