The safest thing

Destructoid makes a few observations on the death-toll of video-games (murders, suicides and so forth) [thanks for the link, Tigro].

I’m going to add a couple extra data points here.

Do violent video-games desensitize you to violence?

According to research no they don’t seem to. Although they do desensitize you somewhat to images depicting violence – but not as effectively as violent films/tv, where the images are passively contextualized.

Cartoon violence, interestingly, may be more effective at desensitization than more graphic and realistic depictions of violence.

As Destructoid notes, only a percentage of the 26 deaths that they list that are attributed to video-games may actually have any link. Even if that were 100%, the picture gets interesting when you take it at a per-capita basis.

On a per-capita basis, violent video games appear to be the safest thing we can do. On that basis, there are more deaths linked to cars, corsets, body-paint and wine-gums than there are to video-games, even if you exaggerate the video-game deaths link. It seems to be among the activities that cause the lowest number of deaths and injuries.

Now that you’ve had a moment to think about that, you might wonder why then, we act to keep video-games out of the hands of our youngsters.

Because we collectively think it’s the right thing to do. Though, however assiduously you work to keep your 16-year-old away from violent games, the odds are she or he has had the opportunity to play more than a few.

Nevertheless, as responsible parents and grandparents, we think it is a good idea to restrict the access to violent video games, and make choices for our children and grandchildren. Should little Suzy play Rainbow Six: Vegas 2 or Bella Sara? Both games certainly have their merits, and both teach valuable lessons.

Well, that depends on Suzy, and on the choices you – as a responsible adult – make for her, and how well you perform as a parent or guardian.

Video-games, like film and television, books and magazines are informative, entertaining, educational and sometimes contain inappropriate content. These are not substitutes for spending time with your kids, or helping them understand the world that they live in, and someday create. They are tools that are available to you to help your child grow into a responsible adult themselves.

From the day your child is born you, as a parent, make choices about what is and isn’t appropriate for them. Some things just aren’t. Others are a judgment call – your call. Whatever the numbers say, you should be the one making the decisions for your child, because nobody else knows them as well as you do.

The safest thing for your child is that a responsible adult give them the time and attention that they deserve, and make thoughtful, considered choices for them.

3 thoughts on “The safest thing”

  1. Great article Tateru,

    There is a school of thought that a lot of the cases of PTSD that came out of Iraq and Afghanistan came from young men and women suddenly realizing that real life violence with guns and bombs is nothing like what they’ve seen in movies and video games. For a generation now, western youth have grown up with preconceived ideas of what bodies look like when they’re shot, or how people react when they’re injured. Immersed in a war zone, the reality hit hard.

  2. I love how you point out that parents do play a bigger role for their kids, deciding what’s best for them and all… Now if we can only know what is best for parents whom never had those kind of parents? That surely would solve so many homestead crimes and poors.

    Only a few child of those kind of parent are lucky enough to see through them and develop their own fine responsible choices. May come growing idiocy society if we don’t apply a law or guideline. Common pain for fellow senators, I think.

    However, video games may not be answer for every children, whether it has violent or not. There may be more into difference between reality and fantasy as a role lie therein.

  3. @Nacon: Which is precisely why there are rules and regulations and laws but that still allow parents some range of choice. You don’t want to be unduly restricted in your choices just because your neighbor’s kids can’t even be trusted with safety scissors — yet we also understand that not all parents are of equal quality.

    The idea is to maintain a balance between the two. Either extreme does us all a disservice.

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