Video Game Violence: Is It Really The Cause Of Agressive Youth?


Violence in video games has long been thought to be the cause of violence in youth both past and present.  Multiple studies have been conducted to try and prove the link between these violent video games and aggression in children.  Some studies have shown that “playing more violent video games in junior and high school” caused teens to engage “in more aggressive behavior.”   One of the popular beliefs by today's society is that violent video games desensitize our youth, making them believe that it is okay to shoot someone.  The thought is that the child believes that the person killed gets extra lives.  It is because of these beliefs that, all too often, violent video games have been threatened to be made illegal.

My purpose in this report is to show that violent video games are, in fact, not the cause of aggression and violence in todays youth.  As a matter of fact, I would like to show that they, in no way what-so-ever, cause violence.  For starters, since the 1990s, video game sales have seen a steady, and giant, growth.   Currently 67% of American households have games.  If sales are tremendous and there are actually that many video game players in America, surely crime rate would have increased?!  This is just not the case.  In actuality, since 1990, violent crimes in the US have fallen from approximately 1.8 million per year to roughly 1.4 million per year (as of 2008).  Do those statistics scream violent video games are causing violence in our youth?
What about the following chart?

Violence Chart

(This chart shows the decline in crime victims along with the release date of particular violent video games.)

Some other statistics to take into consideration are the percentages of gamers in the US.  For example, “the average gamer is 34 years old” and “26% of game players are over the age of 50.”   These statistics show that it's not just our youth who are being subjected to violent video games, and in fact, it is a much older crowd.  Another interesting fact is that “sales of video games have more than quadrupled from 1995-2008, while the arrest rate for juvenile murders fell 71.9% and the arrest rate for all juvenile violent crimes declined 49.3% in this same period.”

Henry Jenkins, an MIT professor, has put together a very nice list of myths about video games and their link to supposed violence in youth.  Among other items on his list are the myths that video games are not a meaningful form of expression and that video game play is socially isolating.  As he points out, neither of these is the case.  More and more, video games are becoming social events.  Gamers can now socialize with other gamers just as if they were socializing on a playground.  And as for video games not being a meaningful form of expression, video games today, especially ones with open-ended worlds, offer gamers choices and the gamer witness the choices or their decisions.  This gives players the ability to actually feel guilty because of something they may have done wrong.

It is my belief that video game violence is not the cause of violence among the youth of America.
If anything, it is the lack of a good home and the lack of good parents that are the main cause of violence in youth.  It is my hope that with this new found knowledge, you, the reader, will leave with a new, open mind and consider the fact that video games, even the violent ones, might not be as bad for our children as we are led to believe.