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Teens take stands on issues of interest

Posted: May 1, 2013 - 4:40pm

Have you ever played a violent video game? Fantasy gore seems to be more and more popular as the graphics are refined and technical kinks are straightened out. They have become increasingly popular among the teen to young adult population, especially in boys. What is it that makes them so fascinating — the repulsive graphics, the brutal deaths? But is there a darker side than just harmless fun? Many people believe that video games are the main, or at least one of the main, factors attributing to societal violence, like mass shootings and even simple robbery.

Most scientists who have studied the matter agree that the “violent” effects of video games are short term — like heightened rudeness — and agree that they help by keeping the violence in our imagination and off the streets. They say that even violent TV or news stories can have the same effect. 

Dr. Daphne Bevelier has studied the positive effects and decided they outweigh the negative accusations. Her studies found that video games, specifically first-person shooters, improve reaction time and hand/eye coordination, and that avid players can find small details more accurately in clutter and differentiate shades of gray better, which could mean the difference between life and a fatal car accident when driving in dark, foggy weather. 

One study even suggested that playing video games can, for people who have less than perfect eyesight, retrain the player’s brain to see better after a longer period of time. So with all these benefits, why are people so against them?

People like to blame video games for violence in communities, but the truth is there is absolutely no evidence directly linking video games to physical violence. Dr. Craig Anderson, a professor who specializes in the study of violence, ran a study about video games,  and says “None of these extreme acts, like a school shooting, occur because of only one risk factor; there are many factors, including feeling socially isolated, being bullied, and so on.” 

In his reports he says it’s impossible to accurately pin any one factor to be an absolute cause of violence, but that being said, video games don’t appear to be any substantial cause.  The spikes of youth violence have not coincided with the increase of violent video games either; the population of youth offenders dropped by more than half between 1994 and 2010, whereas video game sales have doubled since 1996, according to Dr. Ward’s studies, which verified that the times when video game sales are highest are actually when crime rates are lowest.

In conclusion, there is more evidence that violent video games are beneficial and aren’t causing all the violence they’ve been accused of. The effects are short-term —short enough that it couldn’t influence on such a grand scale. There isn’t even any solid evidence linking video games to violence. The accusations mostly come from people who believe that any violence is morally wrong. But isn’t it better for violence to stay in our heads or on screen instead of on our streets?

Sierra Deloach is a freshman at Homer High School. She writes: “I’m a bit of a video game enthusiast, which prompted this essay.”

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