Posted on April 6, 2011, Phil Owen Video Games Kill Children’s “Moral Learning”
A study by Simmons College Comms Prof Ed Vieira says that prolonged exposure (years) to violent video games will cause children to become desensitized and think it’s totally OK or even “right” to shoot the f–k out of someone’s face. It’s a familiar tale. Here’s the gist:
In noting that moral reasoning development is based on the ability to understand a perspective outside of oneself, the study suggested that violent video games do not provide the perspective of the victim of a violent act, and that repeated exposure to violent video games impede the perspective-taking development during a crucial developmental period.
The study notes that boys are more likely to play violent games than girls, and that thus boys are more likely to lose their empathy toward other human beings.
These kinds of studies make me sad not because they attempt to paint video games in a bad light, but because they always make weird assumptions about human behavior, like the supposition that this entire study depends on: that young boys wouldn’t be total assholes if it weren’t for games.
I can’t really comment further on this, since the press release for the study’s findings didn’t provide much detail, and so I don’t really have any idea what these findings are based on. It just says things like this — “The study also found that children who spend a great deal of time playing violent video games (as defined by the Entertainment Software Rating Board) have an increased likelihood of accepting all types of violence.” — and doesn’t explain it.
Then, at the end of the release, it says the research was based on the General Aggression Model, which is interesting to me in that the GAM tends to draw far more nuanced results than what Vieira and co. came up with. The GAM understands that there are many things in the world that influence a person’s mindset, while this study release makes no note of those things. Whatever.
One last thing: is it really that bad if our nation’s children think it’s “right” to commit violence against aliens that are destroying New York?