Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Science Speaks: The Harm of Violent Video Games?

Hey parents, a news story from Nature.com calls attention to scientific studies pointing to the possibility that violent video games might encourage violent behavior in kids. Some of you may be surprised that this isn't obvious, but it's interesting enough to merit a story from that reputable source of scientific news.

I realized that video games affect behavior shortly after I was first exposed to Pong in the 1970s. I think it affected my ability to be decisive. Well, not really. Actually, yes it did. No it didn't. . . .

Anyway, parents, this is a good time to evaluate how the entertainment you provide for your kids might be affecting their development socially, intellectually, and physically.

Sorry for the emotional pain this statement will cause, but I think too many LDS people are into video games. One LDS ward my family attended while we were in Utah once shocked two of my boys when the lesson for at least two of the quorums during Priesthood meeting involved going across the street to play video games at the adult's home. Now that's real apostasy.

18 comments:

captveg said...

Like any form of media, too much is not good. TV, movies, video games and all other media is fine and dandy and can be valuable tools, but too much of one or the other while neglecting literature and non-media activities (board games, puzzles, etc.) is bad. And then there is, of course, the type of content within that limited amount, and too many are neglecting the need to supervise that.

Anonymous said...

At one time we were told that video games were good because of the excellant hand/eye control it fostered. Now we realize that it keeps kids inside for hours at a time. That is time when they could be out riding their bike, playing softball etc.

I have heard of kids who quit going to classes in college, and just spent time playing online video games into the wee hours of the morning.

And, of late we find that many video games are loaded with sex i addition to violence.

Anonymous said...

At one time we were told that video games were good because of the excellant hand/eye control it fostered. Now we realize that it keeps kids inside for hours at a time. That is time when they could be out riding their bike, playing softball etc.

I have heard of kids who quit going to classes in college, and just spent time playing online video games into the wee hours of the morning.

And, of late we find that many video games are loaded with sex i addition to violence.

Anonymous said...

I completly agree tham some video games are terrible for kids, but we cant keep blaming Things like video games R-rated movies and certain types of misic for the way people behave. Certantly exposure to those things help you to be unrighteous just as going to church and sing hyms hyms etc. help you to be righteous but everything is a personal choice. You can not blame other things and people for the chices you make. Unfortunately in this society people never want to take responsibility for their own actions. Just blame it on the video games.

Mormanity said...

I don't think I'm blaming anything for the totality of people's behavior and their choices. But there's no doubt that negative influences have negative effects, so why pay extra to bring negative influences into our home?

captveg said...

I have heard of kids who quit going to classes in college, and just spent time playing online video games into the wee hours of the morning.

That's nothing. While on my mission enough Elders were using proselyting time with video games - some having bought their own systems to play within their apartments - that my Mission President had to outright ban them video game playing altogether instead of keeping them equal to P-day activities such as soccer, bowling, etc. So much wasted time.

But there's no doubt that negative influences have negative effects, so why pay extra to bring negative influences into our home?

If there's no supervision or discussion, hardly any experience with media that deals with good/evil conflict is going to be positive (and most valuable stories depict evil at some level at some point within the story). I remember when I was 11 and my parents sat my brother (3 years older) and myself down and watched the movie Glory with us. Their prologue to the viewing was in essence "There's no way we would want you to watch this movie on your own right now, but we feel that it tells a story of acceptance and sacrifice that is appropriate if we watch it with you and talk about it." And that's what happened. We watched, we discussed. Positive experience even though the film has some truly negative content (racism, war violence, mild language).

Because video games are ignorantly thought to be as unthreatening as they were 20 years ago, too many people don't realize that such involvement for younger children and teens (13-15) is likely necessary. I'm not saying one should plop an 11 year old down in front of Splinter Cell or anything, but I think the principle of involvement is key.

Rusty said...

Why do these discussions end up being an all or nothing issue? Why can't we agree that too much is bad, but in moderation (like almost everything) is a good thing.

For you to suggest video games only have a negative influence is ludicrous. There are many positives that derive from video games as well, even beyond the tired "improves hand-eye coordination".

Similarly, to suggest playing video games during priesthood as "real apostacy" is a bit extreme. Sure, they should probably have stayed at the church and discussed church stuff. But I've got to admit some of the best conversations with our *one* young man in my ward in Brooklyn have been while playing video games. If he won't come to church then we'll go there. If he won't discuss the gospel sitting around the table, then we'll discuss it while playing Halo. And it works pretty well.

Bookslinger said...

I didn't think anyone in this thread was characterizing the subject as all or nothing.

But there are parallels to other addictive behavior.

I've played Doom and Quake on the PC. I already knew I had obsessive-compulsive tendencies beforehand, but playing those games reinforced it.

Ending a 1 or 2 hour session was a real shock to my system coming back into the real world. Those things create virtual-realities in our mind, and the effects of living in that virtual-reality can be as real as the effects of our physical 3D reality.

I'm not saying everyone needs to immediately stop video games (except those starting a mission). But there are certain games that children just shouldn't start. And those involved in them to an excess need to wean themselves off them.

I see parallels to the Word of Wisdom, about evil and conspiring men. Not everyone who starts smoking gets addicted. Not everyone who drinks alcohol on a regular basis becomes an alcoholic. But the risks far outweigh the benefits, so why start?

Anonymous said...

Rusty----I agree that you have to do what you have to do to talk to a boy.

However---I do agree that taking kids to play video games on Sunday during priesthood is apostacy. There are fine activities to do with the kids. Playing video games is not one of them.

Anonymous said...

Mormanity said:

I see parallels to the Word of Wisdom, about evil and conspiring men.

There is no question that you are right on here. Priesthood dads, all dads for that matter, need to control their homes and keep the home a nuturing environment.

I have a friend that says he cannot take Grand Theft Auto out of the home because he is afraid his son will rebel.

Anonymous said...

I have a friend who was laid off for a number of months. We found out he was turning down jobs offered to him. He was playing video games all day.

Amy said...

I see absolutely no benefit to playing video games. They are banned from my home, period. I have over 1,200 books (nearly 1/3 of them being history, and another 1/4 of them being LDS) so if my kids are bored, they can read.

My younger brothers are addicted to video cames and they literally go into withdrawals when they are away from their games. And I always think it's so sad to be walking past the video game department at Wal-Mart and seeing the kids standing there like zombies, oblivious to the world around them. Some will stand there for an hour or longer (I've seen this while wandering around, waiting on my oil changes).

captveg said...

I see absolutely no benefit to playing video games.

I'll propose a few: Familiarity and comprehension of non-linear narrative storytelling; the ability to follow multiple protagonists and storylines (particularly within the Role-Playing Game genre such as Final Fantasy); critical thinking excercises such as puzzle-solving; the enjoyment of a classic adventure motif (The Legend of Zelda matches the 1938 film The Adventures of Robin Hood or the novel Tom Sawyer for fun escapist adventuring, IMO).

My 6-year old nephew is masterful at Pikmin, which is a game where you must get the assistance of plant/animal lifeforms to help an alien repair his damaged ship. Lots of puzzle-solving, lots of text reading, lots of adventurous fun. He's not allowed to play it for hours on end, because he has toys/games to play with, books to read, films to watch, etc.

It's all about balance. Your brothers and their zombie status is unfortunately too common. Involvement is the key.

That being said, I say more power to you for doing what you feel is best in your home. I'd rather see a parent make a decision I slightly disagree with than to not make any decesion at all concerning media.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: video-games are the new storytellers, and parents need to forget about Pong and Super Mario Bros. That's 20+ years ago, and things have changed.

Matt Witten said...

1. There are lots of Advantages to playing video games. Studies have shown it increases confidence in a stressful environment, problem solving and trouble shooting skills, and even communication skills. However, it can also decrease certain types of communication skills, as well as cause other types of issues.( As sighted in article by nature.) I think the key is to make a mature decision about what games to play, how much, and when. It is simply a matter of taking control of your own destiny and not allowing something else control you, including virtual reality.
2. I enjoy video games. alot.
3. I think if you take your priesthood class out of CHURCH to go home and play a game, you are a big fat loser. Church is Church. c'mon!

Anonymous said...

My husband is a video game fanatic. He always played on the Sabbath Day. I finally sat him down and told him how unhappy he was making me. Now he plays video games not as much but when he does, he does it from dusk til dawn. I don't approve of the games he's playing, even though he's a grown man. Some online navy game. The violence in these video games are the same as watching a rated r movie. If only he understood.

Anonymous said...

This post looks kind of dead but I still find it interesting. I was talking to my sister and brother-in-law about video games. They will not allow them in their homes. I am a strong proponent of video games and I think the industry will and should continue to grow.

There has been a lot of politicol campaigns against violent video games mostly led by Jack Thompson. I think this is a good start but Jack is not the man to do it. He often used misconstrued information and insulted gamers with various shrewd comments. This is not good. Video gamers are looked at as being nerdy and perceived to have no social life. The truth of the matter is that most game players are just as intelligent as anyone else and they often lead successful lives.

The violence in video games offers a growing dilemma in homes across the nation. GTA IV was just released today and I am sure it's pushing the boundaries once again, just as all the games in the series have. I have never played one of the games in the series, because of moral reasons, but I still find the concept fascinating.

To those of you who see no benefits to video gaming, you need to try playing them. One benefit to the U.S. military is that they make a great recruitment tool. They glamourize war violence and make it appealing to the teenage boy. The army also makes a game they market for free of download from their site.

I think the problem with keeping video games out of the home is that our children will just go out to play them at some other person's house. I believe my sister will run into this problem when she starts having children. I am not suggesting that we let our kids play GTA, but I agree with the other posts that there must be moderation.

There are games were violence is necessary. Tasteful violence is very effective in video games. I'm not talking about cold-blooded murders or gruesome murder scenarios, but of fighting for what is right or against some evil force.

There may not be a need for video games but books are just not enough for most people anymore. TV is a substitute for many book readers and video games may soon take place of television. We need to be part of the world but not of it. We need to utilize this new technology and use it for good. We shouldn't just lock it out of our homes because violent media can be played on it. That's silly. We need to embrace it and change it to make it acceptable. If we do not allow video games in our homes we should not allow tv or books in our homes.

If we go to the extreme of removing video games out of our homes, we should not be allowed to read about history because we could uncover a mass killing. We could also learn about terrible murder plots and assasinations.

I guess I just think removing video games out of the home is a little extreme. I don't think most m-rated games are appropriate for anyone. But Halo? It's not too bad - maybe you'll just view me as being desensitized - but come on. It's not any worse than most of the violence in Star Wars episode 3. I think violent games do pose a large threat to society though.

Anonymous said...

My hubby think the playing vidio game is totally fine to do it on Sunday, I keep telling him is not right but he never listen to me, his excuse are who say I can't play game on Sunday. I don't know what to do anymore.

Anonymous said...

Games offer a place to escape. And games do have a meaning. Apparently all you that ban games in the house never played those games. You all act like they'lldo drugs or something. I'll put it bluntly, stop trying to be god. We are human.