Do Violent Video Games Take a Toll On Young Minds?

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Jerome Idaho- We interviewed local psychologist Tonya Jacob Jepson, student gamer Ashton Silvers and Mr. Baker, he runs the game club at JHS. We asked them questions about what they thought about violent video games. Jepson told us ¨I don’t think that they are a good idea.” Silvers said “ I feel like violent video games aren’t too bad like I beat Doom Eternal recently and it was fun but it didn’t make me anymore violent. Violent video games shouldn’t be shown to young children, just people that can stand things like blood and gore.” Baker said “ To me it’s very unrealistic, it targets specific audiences by making it extra gorey and extra bloody because there are people that find a thrill of seeing all the guts, blood, and gore. Those are the types of videos I dont think are healthy but if you have things like ( Super Smash Bros) or things that are just cartoon violence, you don’t see people getting hit or hurt. Those are less harmless.¨

Next we asked them if they thought that violent video games take a toll on young minds. Silvers replied with ¨ It depends on how the child was raised, some children are more sensitive than others. It didn’t have an effect on me at least because I mostly didn’t understand it. ¨ Jepsen said “ Yes they do, I heard from someone in the military that they used to use violent video games for people to become less sensitive to killing people.¨ Baker told us ¨ The cartoon violence, not as much. It’s like watching Tom and Jerry. Those were pretty violent shows but it wasn’t really recognized as a danger or anything until we included shows or games where you see blood, bones cracking. Those definitely take a toll.¨ 

They were asked what age should violent video games be played at. Jepsen said ¨ I don’t think there’s any age where they can play without an effect. I think the younger kids are more damaging because they are developing but I still think that for older people its damaging as well.¨ Baker started ¨ I think following the ratings, they do a good job of modetering.¨ Silvers told us ¨ Honestly that’s a grey area for me, because there’s no specific age you should play games like that, but there’s also an amount of maturity and understanding you’d need to actually cope.¨ They were also asked if they thought video games increase aggression. Baker said ¨It depends on the type of video games you play. There are other games like Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing, where they are very social and friendly. Kids who show more violence are not only because of the game. It’s the parents who aren’t there to monitor how much you are playing. It’s the combo of the video games and the lack of parenting.¨

Do you think first person video games increase the likelihood of mass shootings? Baker said, ¨Getting a very realistic game like Call of Duty, I think it encourages people to become less hesitant to shoot at another human being because we’ve seen it in our history. I do think it goes back to not having somebody at home.¨ Jepson told us ¨ I think that if a person has an unstable mindset anything can trigger it, but I don’t think the game helps if anything pushes it in that direction.¨ Silvers told us something different than Jepson, ¨I don’t think so, I really doubt anyone would actually go to a videogame to strategize a mass shooting or even get an idea from a video game.¨

For our next question we asked how they thought video games stimulate the brain to make them more addicting. Jepson said, ¨They tap into the pleasure center of the brain and into the adrenaline, there are some games that make you happy like Candy Crush when you get the whole row. It kind of distracts you from the rest of your troubles.¨ Silvers said, ¨They stimulate an environment that you might find pleasing. Not saying that it’s fun to kill humans, the fact that you know it’s not real and that you aren’t really harming anyone is.¨ Baker said, ¨The colors, hoe high definition they are, and the competitive nature.¨ 

For our final question they were asked if they thought that game ratings should be stricter. Jepson told us ¨  I think they have a pretty good rating system but a lot of it is parents buying their kids the game that they want vs whether it’s a good idea. Silvers said ¨ I don’t think so, I think the games are rated fairly based on their gameplay. ¨ Mr. Baker wasn’t able to answer.