Is it possible that desensitization due to over-exposure to violence can be a factor in mass murders such as the one perpetrated in Connecticut? That’s one possible theory.
But Rowell Huesmann and Eric Dubow of the Aggression Research Program at the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan feel it is more than that — games may provide a script that makes these murderers more confident in their actions. And while most teens reject the “script” as flat-out wrong or fictional, there are those who are psychologically damaged who do not reject this common script.
“We must strive to find ways, without trampling on the right of free artistic expression, to reduce youth exposure to violence in life and in the mass media," Huesmann and Dubow said in a press release Dec. 17. "Violence is a contagious disease, particularly for youth. The more they are exposed to it, the more likely they are to catch it.”
Does it require legislation?
According to politico.com, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller has already introduced a bill that would have the National Academy of Sciences examine possible links between violent video games and media, and violent acts by children.
“Recent court decisions demonstrate that some people still do not get it,” Rockefeller said in a statement. “They believe that violent video games are no more dangerous to young minds than classic literature or Saturday morning cartoons. Parents, pediatricians and psychologists know better. These court decisions show we need to do more and explore ways Congress can lay additional groundwork on this issue. This report will be a critical resource in this process. I call on my colleagues to join me in passing this important legislation quickly.”
Gamers say, "NO!"
But the New York Daily News reports gamers are calling for a ban on guns as a solution, not games. Citing a statement from Jim Welling, the manager of Video Games New York, “it's dumb blaming everything on video games. I don't see any of our customers going out and trying to kill someone just because of a video game.”
We do love our video games and it would seem that "gamers" truly enjoy virtual war, rather than dancing. Three of Amazon.com's lists of the four top-selling games this year include Halo 4, Call of Duty: Black Ops II and Assassin's Creed III. Just Dance 4 came in at number two.
What do you think? Tighter controls on violent games or should it be the responsibility of parents to monitor the games their children are playing? Is this a multifaceted problem that is going to take more than a quick congressional fix on either guns and/or games?