There’s something about video games that make people lose their common sense. I’m not sure why. Maybe because it’s the newest form of media, so it gets picked on until the next skinny kid transfers to the school. Or maybe it’s because of the nature of it being interactive. Regardless, video games are constantly under fire by the syndicated news media, politicians, religious groups, and others that don’t have anything better going on in their lives. Not to mention the most degenerative media of all… the Human imagination! (seriously, anyone who has or seen kids knows they come up with some pretty violent stuff when playing) The big debate always boils down to “do video games cause violence”.
So lets set things straight once and for all. Media is media. Whether it be games, sports, movies, music, still images, books, etc… ALL of these are capable of inflicting the effects of “desensitization” on individuals. Ok gang, here’s the science… Observing violence, in any kind of form, may raise levels of adrenaline, giving a bit of a rush to aggression. However, these effects are temporary in adults and pose no real danger of long-term desensitization or violence. It gives you a little rush, you get excited, you cheer at the guy getting blown up on the big screen, then it’s done and you go on your merry way. This is because your adult brains are already set in how they function. You know right and wrong and what’s real from fantasy. So no worries, you won’t go on a killing spree after playing GTA or MW2.
“Ok then,” you might say, “you used that ‘adults’ word. What about the children? Won’t SOMEBODY think of the children!!” Right, there’s the rub. Children (based on a few articles I’ve seen) are not very aware of the difference between fantasy and reality until ages 4-6. Also, according to Surgeon General, TV violence is a major risk factor for development of early onset aggression between the ages of 6-11. Meaning, little kids shouldn’t be watching anything with people dieing or killing and kids a little older should be monitored (ie, PG, parental guidance, a parent in the room with the kid) and very violent things should be filtered accordingly. The same source also states the mid teens have one of the highest rates of non-aggressive individuals converted to aggressive ones… which should be no shock to any parent. Hormones are a great thing huh? Anyways, that whole adrenaline rush thing still happens to kids and it lasts longer. If media is way beyond the scope of what is appropriate for a child, depending on the age, it IS BAD! As in, you gotta learn empathy, folks. Strip that away and you’ve got some trouble coming!
But fear not! For there is hope! The powers that be, in their infinite wisdom, have developed a system for distributing media to the appropriate audiences through a series of codings! That’s right! Games, movies, tv, and music all have special codes that only enable children of a certain age to engage. Only one little flaw… Parental unit defects may allow for material of inappropriate codings to slip through the filtering system to the child subjects. Until my bill is passed that would subjugate defective units to a series of “re-education” maintenances or deactivations, we’ll just have settle with labeling them as morons.
The system is only as good as those who follow it. The media ratings are set for the appropriate age levels. If a 4yr old is playing GTA, then there’s a problem with the parents, not the game or its designers. At the end of the day, it is up to the parents to filter out inappropriate materials for the child’s age. Take responsibility and stop using video games (or any other media) as a scapegoat!
Of course, this assumes all Humans are the exact same. There are a few out there that are crazy as hell. When you study the brains of violent criminals and even serial killers, you find their brains are wired wrong. That’s not to say all people with brains like theirs will become violent, just that they have a high predisposition for it. You can’t blame the media when the ol clockworks are already busted.
Now, this wouldn’t be a Coffin Comic if I hadn’t gone through points C-Z on my way to B. This is about the news media and its high degree of tardedness. Actually, this comic was originally about that kid a few weeks back that thought he was a vampire or something stupid like that. This wouldn’t have been a problem, but one news press decided to add a few lines of “it was all because of vampire movies like Twilight that caused him to hallucinate”. Yeah, if you start thinking you’re a vampire because of a movie… then you’ll probably fall into that bat guano crazy category of factory defect brains. Sorry, but a normal brain doesn’t go on thinking it’s a mythical creature and assault people. (Note: The original article linked above has no mention of any of this sensationalism, but the ABC news report thought it would be ok to add on this little jab towards the motion picture media.)
But that’s besides the point. He could have run around town naked and shanking people, but that still doesn’t give the media the right to spin the news to call him out for what he is; an idiot. Even if video games or movies had effected him (like he played Kill Zone as a baby), it still isn’t the fault of interactive media, it solely rests on the parents! You can’t blame a wrench for building a death ray… just the evil super villain who thought of it!
Getting back to the comic… I decided to do a quick bit of research on news media and how THEY effect children. Well, wouldn’t you know it, the National Crime Prevention Council (you know, Scruff McGruff) say that “may cause children to become aggressive, desensitized to violence, and have less empathy for others.” WOW! Where have I heard that before? Oh wait, that’s what the news media says about all the other forms of media! So what is it? Will Fox News and all the other syndicated sensationalists belly up to the bar with the rest of us social degenerates, or still claim they are immune because they only “report news” and are ultimately different? You can’t have it both ways. You can’t just point the finger without having it pointed right back. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say that the news media is even MORE dangerous! Because it IS real (as in, the violence you see there) and it’s often mixed in there with seemingly harmless stuff. For instance, while you wait for the weather to come on, between all the reports of the economy taking a dump and Lady Gaga’s new dress, you’ve got video of the latest riots or murders or massive disasters. There isn’t a “cover the kids’ eyes” disclaimer. In reality, news broadcasts should be given the label of “TV MA”.
I could go on forever about all this, but I’m sure you all are pretty tired of reading by now. lol! So let me conclude with something of a downer… Violence and aggression are, for the most part, learned behaviors (with some exceptions noted above); that means, the greatest risk to children ARE the parents. Whether that is because they are allowed to view inappropriate media, or worse yet, view it first hand between their parents. So please, take great care in raising your youngins! It ultimately rests with the parents to set the right example and filter what is appropriate for what age. Use the rating codes as your guide.