Media blames video games for the desensitization of youth. (Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash)
Media blames video games for the desensitization of youth.

Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash

Desensitization of Youth By Video Games

October 30, 2019

Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto V and PUBG give junior Christian Mirle an escape from his day-to-day stress. Mirle never felt desensitized by video games. For him, the hours he spends shooting virtual bots resembles a game of dodgeball – the player does something that knocks someone else out and they feel accomplished.

The media blames recent tragedies such as the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas in Parkland, Florida on video games. The shooter allegedly had a history of playing video games that involve guns. After hours of playing, these games may form certain ideologies in players’ heads (such as desensitization of killing).

Legacy’s student support counselor Amy Andra thinks that more studies need to be conducted on this topic.

“Any mental health issues that may exist are only one factor contributing to school/mass shootings,” Andra said. “In fact, some research suggests that people with mental health disorders are more likely to commit violence against themselves than others.”

Though these games that have violence glorify the death of others, psychology professors Patrick Markey and Christopher Ferguson found that about 20% of school shooters played violent video games. In contrast, about 70% of their nonviolent peers play video games. These facts do not align with the claims of the House of Representatives, who held a meeting to discuss video game violence in March 2018.

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler said during this meeting that even though I know there are studies that have said there is no causal link, as a mom and a former high school teacher, it just intuitively seems that prolonged viewing of violent nature would desensitize a young person.

This comment during the meeting conflicts with the beliefs of Mirle. In games like Grand Theft Auto (GTA) players are punished for killing others (just like real life) and other illegal activities.

“[Killing in video games] is more of an objective-based thing,  Mirle said. “It’s more like eliminating someone in dodgeball; you’re eliminating robots.”

But where else should the government be looking? According to a paper written by Paolini, Allison C., Ph.D., an assistant professor of Counselor Education at Kean University, 78% of school shooters had a history of suicide attempts prior to their attack. The mental health of these perpetrators was in peril. Only 34% ever received a mental health evaluation. 

“Some studies suggest that some specific acts of violence could be a result of or inspired by video games but many studies suggest an inconclusive direct link,” Andra said. 

Another factor that attributes to shootings is guns in general. In the Bill of Rights, the second amendment protects “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms”. These were created back in 1789, but until 1993, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act made background checks mandatory for all unlicensed individuals purchasing a firearm, but many loopholes and exceptions are manipulated. 

“[Background checks for gun licenses] are essential,” Mirle said. “A person who has a history of making threats should not have a gun.”


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