It Isn’t a Video Game Violence Issue, It’s a Parenting Issue.
On August 26th, in Louisiana, an eight year old boy intentionally shot his 87 year old caregiver in the back of the head. She was pronounced dead at the scene of the crime. This news has been published on countless websites, and every article has one thing in common: they all reference the fact that the boy had a copy of Grand Theft Auto IV in his Playstation 3. They aren’t being subtle about it either. This information is in the title of the articles, ensuring that anyone skimming these articles – in a half-assed attempt to get just enough information to scream about – begins reading with complete bias.
We all know what to do, right? Great. I’ll see you at the video game burning.
It seems like whenever a child commits an act of violence as horrible as this, people scramble to find a scapegoat; the bigger the better. In this case, the child was playing a violent video game, so it must be the video game industry’s fault. Never-mind the fact that this woman had a loaded gun that was accessible for the child, and forget the fact that this woman allowed the child to play a game made for adults and visibly rated M+ for Mature gamers, because it’s not her fault. This would never have happened if the folks over at Rockstar Games never made that horrible game. Correlation doesn’t always equal causation.
Yes, children are easily influenced by their environment. Hell, the child may have really just been re-enacting what he saw in the video game, does that mean that the video game is responsible? Or does the responsibility lie with his caregiver? She was, after all, either uninformed or indifferent as to the content of the entertainment provided and failed to properly secure a loaded firearm with an eight-year-old in the home. Yet the media seemingly encourage society to place blame on phenomena they don’t fully understand.
I think that this mentality is founded in the misconception that video games are for children. They aren’t. Some video games are made for adults and their rating system is displayed visibly on the packaging. In fact, unlike movies, the ratings for video games are posted on the front of the packaging and they are more than three times the size that of a home video.
How big do these logos need to be?
Would that help?
If you aren’t paying attention to what is going into your child’s brain, you are being negligent.
If you leave a loaded firearm within reach of an unsupervised child, you are being negligent.
If you think that this is the child’s fault or the video game industry’s fault, you are being intentionally misled.
I don’t feel like this is a time to restrict the video game industry. This is a time to educate the general public and encourage parents to pay attention to their children instead of treating video game consoles like baby sitters. If you want to do that, there’s a wide wide world of Nintendo titles that won’t teach your child the finer points of rape and murder.
Yes video games can be tasteless, offensive, violent, and downright reprehensible; but you don’t have to play them and you certainly don’t have to let your child play them.
Besides, we all know who where the blame needs to be placed, right?
Tags: 8 year old, esrb, grand theft auto, louisiana, shooting, video game violence, video games, violence