April 14, 2008

Web Surfing: What Do Other Bloggers Have to Say About Violence in the Media?

This week, I navigated the blogosphere in a search for blogs that comment on the media's role or lack of role in youth violence. As I wrote about last week, research shows that mental illness is the leading indicator and cause of violence. However, in our media saturated society, television and other technologies are the easiest scapegoats for the problem. Many blogs reinforce this misconception about violence in the media being extremely dangerous to today's youth. The first blog I looked at is called Game Politics, which posts a conversation between Larry King and Dr. Phil about video games' influence over children. I challenged Dr. Phil's argument that video games are a causal factor in young people committing violent acts. The second blog I looked at is called Matty N's Blog. The creator of the blog quotes Rush Limbaugh voicing his opinion that video games are not guilty of people's violent crimes. He says that the individual is responsible for the act. I responded to both Game Politics' and Matty N's posts below:

While I appreciate Dr. Phil's opinions on many topics, I greatly disagree with his point of view that video games cause youth violence. Research shows that by the age of 11, children have adult capabilities of deciphering between fantasy and reality on the television screen. Thus, shooting animated people by clicking a remote control is in no way teaching kids about violence. In fact, many sociologists have noted that violence in a media is a safe way for people to release their violent urges. Furthermore, evidence reveals that mental illness is the leading cause in homicide. I believe that the media is simply an easy target for criticism regarding serious issues, such as teenage violence. By blaming the media, individuals do not have to look into the deeper problems-problems that may begin in their very own households.

Rush's statement about the relationship between video games and school shootings is valuable to Americans. He is correct in noting that video games are absolutely not responsible for adolescent violence. There is no evidence tying the two matters together, and as Rush points out, the fact that the Virginia Tech school shooter played video games is irrelevant. Many people are gamers and do not commit heinous crimes. I do think it is important to be sensitive to the mental issues that DO have an effect on homicidal people. Mental illness is a serious disease that can be fatal to one or more people if it goes untreated. Mental illness contributes to violent acts, such as school shootings, not video games.


LA said...


Your counter to Dr. Phil's comments were spot on. I, myself am an advocate of personal responsibility, and a gamer too, and find it ludicrous that video games be a scapegoat for heinous acts of murder. The media has been a scapegoat for violence simply because, in my opinion, it is accessible to most everyone. Dr. Phil's accusation is far overreaching, and shame on him for not taking into account his academic background when making such a decision. In both your comments, you provide adequate research on proving your point. I recommend that you link those findings in the comments you made for a more robust argument. Since it is the case that it was not Dr. Phil's blog, you cannot ask him questions on his short-sighted ramblings.

Although, in Limbaugh's comment, I wish there were more to go off of. You ended abruptly, right when your argument was gaining momentum. As was the case with your first comment, it isn't Limbaugh's blog therefore there's no form of questioning him further.

Great post and insight into the topic at hand. I was not only entertained, but educated--especially with your finding that "research shows that by the age of 11, children have adult capabilities of deciphering between fantasy and reality on the television screen." I thought it would have been sooner. Nonetheless, I only wish there had been a little more for my own entertainment.

a very public sociologist said...

An excellent piece. It's something I'll bookmark as my standard response to those who like to regurgitate the hypodermic model of media influence.

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