Sandy Hook tragedy should spur debate about violent video games

Marie Annette /


Published Jan 15, 2013 at 04:00AM / Updated Nov 19, 2013 at 12:31AM

The Sandy Hook massacre has sparked much debate on gun control, primarily assigning blame to the means of perpetrating the shooting rather than adequately investigating the underlying factors that may have fostered the shooter’s motivation.

Gun control may be worthy of debate, but, as someone who believes that it would be unwise to restrict the good guys from having certain weapons so that eventually only the bad guys will have them, I am convinced that the amount of attention focused on this issue is misplaced, if not a diversion, in respect to the Sandy Hook occurrence.

Likewise for the mental health issue, since experts agree that psychiatric disorders aren’t usually a predisposing factor for planning acts of violence. There is, however, a widespread deafening silence about all the dangerous mind-altering drugs that have been liberally prescribed for children and young adults, drugs known to pose risks for “aggressive behavior” and “thoughts of suicide.”

Instead, I believe that a firestorm of debates should have been ignited by the fact that the shooter was widely known to have played violent video games on his computer for several hours every day. The NRA mentioned a few names of violent video games, with one of them being “Kindergarten Killer” — a game in which the objective is to kill the staff and students at an elementary school.

I found that an Iowa State University study had “proved conclusively” that, despite an individual’s predisposition in response to violence, violent video game play makes more aggressive kids — regardless of their age, sex or culture. Given the growing obsessions with electronic gadgets used for entertainment, I have no doubt that violent game play may be a primary factor that significantly contributes to the growing violence in schools.

According to Craig Anderson (Iowa State University Distinguished Professor of Psychology and also the Director of the Center for the Study of Violence), who ran the study, “We can now say with utmost confidence that regardless of research method — that is, experimental, correlation or longitudinal — and regardless of the cultures tested in this study, you get the same effects, and the effects are that exposure to violent video games increases the likelihood of aggressive behavior in both short-term and long-term contexts. Such exposure also increases aggressive thinking and aggressive affect, and decreases pro-social behavior.”

Keep in mind that many of these games show lifelike images and contain graphic violence. Add to that the fact that they require the gamer to act. The gamer is then transported to an alternative world, a simulated environment in which he becomes progressively desensitized to violence.

Could it be just a matter of time before the gamer loses a sense of what is a game and what is real, or a point at which the game world merges with the real world — a type of “Twilight Zone”? It may interest some to learn that U.S. Patent No. 6506148, in part, states: “... a TV monitor or computer monitor can be used to manipulate the nervous system of nearby people.”

Like many of you, I am very guarded on issues concerning censorship and protective of our freedoms, but I also appreciate that sometimes certain kinds of censorship may be necessary in order to preserve more important freedoms. We already censor any depictions of child pornography, but depictions of child murder — or any glorification of murder — is acceptable entertainment?

If we remain disunited in basic moral principles and continue to nurture our perverted and morally depraved culture, there can be no other outcome after going over the “social cliff” than the demise of our nation. History will be the judge.