Playing the blame game

Violent video games have been blamed for a lot of things over the years by politicians and parents, but are they the main cause of violent behavior? Or is it something else? It doesn’t matter because the root of the issue goes back to one source: parents.

And this responsibility belongs to all parents. Parents should take the time to ensure that children are not exposed to violent video games, and it’s no different from any other responsibility involved in parenthood.

But before you jump the gun, research has proven that violent games do cause an increase in aggression, as shown by Professor Craig Anderson of Iowa State University in a study on video game violence, but as the professor pointed out in his conclusion, just like the food you have in your house, you should control which video games your kids have access to.

Yet it seems that the Iowa State University study didn’t change anything; itwas completed in the spring of 2010, and later that year in the fall, Kendall Anderson, 16, killed his mother in her sleep for taking away his PlayStation. And there’s the more recent case–the Netherlands shooting, in which the shooter actually played and used the game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” to train himself before moving on to training with real weapons.

Now for the bomb shell. According to a joint study, published Aug. 10, 2011 by the Centre for European Economic Research, Baylor University, and the University of Texas, violent video games actually lower the crime rate because they keep criminals occupied and allow them to vent their feelings without committing crimes in real life.

“Our findings for the United States show that the time-use effect on players is stronger than the aggressionpromoting effect,” said Benjamin Engelstatter, a researcher with the Centre for European Economic Research.

Do you still believe that violent video games are to blame for violent behavior? The answer is unimportant; the fact of the matter is that these crimes and studies shouldn’t discourage parents from ensuring that they carry out their responsibilities as parents.

Parenthood and the responsibilities that come with it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Parents should take the time to read and research everything they can about a video game before they buy it and make sure that it is suitable for their kids, possibly by taking into account the ESRB rating on the box. It’s not that hard, after all, as the professor points out. Deciding which video game to buy is no different from choosing what food you want your kids to eat.