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It's Not The Fault of Video Games - It Is Just Bad Parenting!


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Every year, the topic of violence in video games and its effect on young minds rears an ugly head. Recently, the trigger for this conversation being put back into the public sphere was the horrific tragedy of the Parkland school shooting in Florida. Rather than focusing attention on gun regulation, Donald Trump and other NRA supporting Republicans have voiced their concern that the shooter was influenced by violence in video games.


A horrible deflection that minimises the impact of guns and gun culture that is embedded in the foundations of American society that has led to countless deaths but also has been proved untrue by science.

A Villanova University Research who spoke with USA Today suggested that school shooters might be less interested in violent video games than other young men the same age. And the Washington Post published an article that compared gun violence to video game sales across the world and found that if there is an impact that it only happens in the USA.

But we’re not here to speak about the science behind violent video games and violence in real life. Instead, I’m posing the argument that, if it were true, video games are not at fault.

It’s bad parenting.

As a parent, there will be some things that you can’t control. You cannot control what another child has been exposed to. You cannot control what the horrors of the world or how the news presents them. There are always things that you’re going to want to protect your children from but are unable to.

But that’s not the fault of video games.

Video games have age ratings, just like movies and television shows and books. If you are under the age of eighteen, you cannot purchase Grand Theft Auto because you shouldn’t be playing out. So how are young kids getting their hands on the games? Their parents.

It could be ignorance. The graphics of video games have improved incredibly over the last decade, leaning towards realism in most Triple-A games, making the worlds seem far more like real life, and the stories that these games are tackling have expanded and deepened, making them truly interactive stories. When video games were growing in popularity, that wasn’t really a problem.

Most people have a nostalgic look for 8-bit games, like Super Mario Bros, and the blocky grossness of the first 3D games, like Spyro. With notable exceptions, like Street Fighter games, which though poorly animated by today’s standards, had a focus on fighting and blood, most of the games from these times were kid friendly. Because games were mostly aimed at children.

Nintendo still holds the market for games that designed mostly for children with mascots and bright colours and simpler controls.

But the world has changed. Video games aren’t just made for children, they’re made for all people. Just in the last year, there has been the release of Super Mario Odyssey, an epic adventure with one of Nintendo’s oldest and most iconic characters, and Wolfenstein II: The Lost Colossus, where the game, although heavy with story, is about shooting Nazis. Two very different games, with very different intentions.

Maybe this change is something that, as a parent, you don’t know. But if you don’t know how far games have come, then it’s not the video games fault if you buy an 18-rated game for your child. You are the parent. You have to do your research and deem what is suitable content for your child to consume.

Video games are just another form of media, although more interactive than others. They can tell emotional stories. They can have moral lessons and debate about humanity. They can be entirely descriptive in their violence.

Stop using violence in video games as an excuse. Stop allowing your children to be exposed to it by getting them the games, and then becoming outraged that such a game exists. Because Grand Theft Auto is not for little Timmy. It’s for Timmy when he’s old enough to understand the humour and the exaggeration that makes the GTA series so good.

Because Five Nights At Freddy’s is not for little Timmy. It’s for Timmy when he’s old enough to know what’s real and what’s not when it’s old enough to understand the dark storyline of child murder that comes along with it.

If you don’t want your child to play games like Call of Duty, where you get points per kill and where there is a focus on multiplayer where you can speak to people from all over the world, who may or may not care that your ten-year-old is online with them as they drop every cuss word and every slur that they’ve ever heard, then the answer is simple – don’t let them play it.

And more importantly, America, stop using violence in video games as an excuse to avoid talking about the problems that are tearing apart your country. You have children and teenagers standing up in protest, speaking out and demanding something be done.

They shouldn’t have to worry about whether the adults in their country are actually going to protect them because you’d rather focus your attention on putting regulations on a form of media that may have an influence on some people than stop their access to the weapons that gave those killers the chance to hurt so many people.

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