November 12, 2013
Dear Mr. Hedges,
I wanted to find out if violent video games especially Grand Theft Auto 5 affect youths. Do these kinds of video games make youth more violent or aggressive? The audience I am writing to is the parents of youths. I was thinking that this piece would show up as an online article on a parenting website where parents could see if video games make kids more violent, instead of reading whole academic studies and trying to understand them. I am assuming that the parents are going to read this to see what’s best for their kids.
While I was writing this paper, I noticed that the introduction and the conclusion were really hard to write. I didn’t want to put a lot of my own thoughts in this paper. I just wanted to show parents what the studies show, not what I think. I found that really hard to write, since I had to state things in a general way, which sounds as if I didn’t say them in my own words. I think my strongest parts are my research because those are the facts or closest things to the facts, which you can’t really deny.
For my paper, I used two studies that I found from the Michigan library site. I wanted some hard facts that I could trust and also the parents could see them too. For my other three sources, I wanted to see what real parents said about my topic. I found three different websites that parents commented on, either about how they felt about violent video games in general or how parents felt about GTA V in particular. Other parents might want to see what they have to say about the game or how they feel about the game.
DeLisi, Matt, Michael G. Vanghn , Douglas A. Gentile, Craig A. Anderson, and Jeffrey J.
Shook. “Violent Video Games Delinquency, and Youth Violence: New Evidence.” Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice ,11.2 (2012): 132-142.
Ferguson, Christopher J. “Video Games and Youth Violence: A Prospective Analysis in
Adolescents” Journal of Youth & Adolescence 40 (2011): 377-391
“Grand Theft Auto V Rating and Review for Kids and Families,” Common Sense
Media. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Nov. 2013.
“Video Game Store Clerk Bashes Parents Who Buy ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ for Their
Young Children.” The Raw Story, N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Nov. 2013.
Grand Theft Auto Five. Dir. Dan Houser, Rockstar Games, 2013.
Does Grand Theft Auto V Make Kids Want to Kill?
When I was younger, all I wanted to do was play video games, let especially the violent ones. Video games ran my life. If a new one came out, I had to buy it. I had to be the first one to beat it out of my friends. My parents did not care what games I played, since they just viewed them as fiction, not reality. Unlike my parents, the parents of one of my friends wouldn’t let him play certain games because they thought they would make him act violent like the characters in the game. For years now, studies have been done all over the world to see if video games, let alone violent ones affect the youth.
Grand Theft Auto or GTA for short is a video game where you basically control a character, and you can do whatever you want to do. While in the game, you can steal cars, do drugs, rob banks, get hookers, go to strip clubs, and kill people. You can do all that as you please. You must be eighteen years old to buy this game, but kids still play it. Many parents think that it’s a game that should be banned for anyone to play. One parent says, “But let’s be honest, that is not what your kids will be doing. They are in the game to steal cars, rob places and kill. Half of the ‘fun’ of the game is being pursued by the police and seeing how many stars you can get (each star denotes a “wanted” rating) before you get killed” (commonsensemedia.org). Another parent states, “My biggest problem, and no one else seems to mention, is the abuse of women in this game. Have any of you who ‘don’t think it’s that bad’ actually played or watched kids play it? To get fast points you pick up hookers and can choose to have oral, anal, or vaginal sex with them. (There are tutorials for those who don’t know how) then they can kill them to not have to pay for their services” (commonsensemedia.org). Not every parent thinks this way. Some actually think it’s okay for their kid or kids to play this game. One of those parents mentions, “I think that this game has many violent and awful things, but if your child knows the difference between the game and the real world, they should be fine. My 13 year old son was allowed to get this game because he demonstrated his knowledge that this game is not to be repeated in any way” (commonsensemedia.org). As you see, there are mixed feelings about this game: some thinks its ok for their kids to play it and others do not. I had to do some research to see if video games affect kids, let alone GTA V.
Numerous studies have been done to see if violent video games affect kids over the past years. One study was done on delinquency and youth violence which was three months long. In this study, DeLisi, Vanghn, Gentile, Anderson, and Shook took 227 delinquents, males and females, between the ages of 14 and 18 and who had been in a facility between 3 and 12 months. These delinquents had structured one-on-one interviews with a trained graduate student using Computer-Assisted Survey Interviews (CASI). They were asked questions about what kind of video games they prefer to play, how long they play them, if they like video games with violence or video games where the character helps people, and how severe was their crime (hit a teacher or parent, stole, if so, how much was it worth, or sold drugs). From this study they found out that playing violent video games and/or having a preference for violent video games is correlated with the delinquency and violence. Screen time, or how long they played the video games wasn’t a factor. According to the researchers violent video games were correlated with aggression, “Even when considering the effects of a battery of correlates of delinquency including psychopathy-a construct whose relation to crime is so robust it has been likened to a unified theory of crime” (DeLisi, et al, 2012, p.138). What they are saying is in this study, the data showed that wanting or preferring to play violent games corresponds to violence and aggression. What the study cant determined is whether, if playing the violent games made them violent and aggressive or if they were already violent and aggressive.
Another study I looked at, was conducted by Christopher J. Ferguson, over a year and a half, involving 603 mainly Hispanic youth (Caucasian, African American, Asian American, and other ethnic groups were all at 1% or less). These youths were interviewed also by phone with a trained research assistant using a standardized script interview comprised mainly of items taken from the outcome assessments (CBCL, OBS, NLE) and video game use. Then they did a follow up on the youth and their parents. This time, they sent a media violence questionnaire. On this questionnaire, they were asked what are their favorite video games and TV shows are, and also how often do they play or watch them. Negative life events, family environment, family violence, depressive symptoms, serious aggression, bullying, and delinquent behavior were all taken into consideration as part of this study. Ferguson did this since he wanted to see if it’s the video games making kids violent and aggressive or something else. As the results came in, the study showed that video games and media have only a small effect on making youths violent and aggressive. Overall mentally health was much more predictive of violent behavior. The study “showed for criminal behaviors (both violent and non-violent), although no direct effects of video games or television violence were seen, total media violence consumption interacted with antisocial traits” (Ferguson, 2011, p.388) Violent videos alone do not play a part in children’s aggression, their mental health much be taken into account. “For children with low antisocial traits, media violence exposure was associated with less criminal behavior” (Ferguson, 2011, p.388). This finding suggest, that kids with a health state of mind may actually learn from these video games. They understand that these activities depicted in these games should not be repeated in real life. “ Only for the most antisocial children was media violence exposure associated with more violent crimes” (Ferguson, 2011, p.388-89). What they are saying is youths with mental or social problem are more likely to show traits of aggression and violence while playing violent video games or watching violent media.
Whether the studies show if violent video games affect youths or not, it’s always up to the parents to decide to buy the games or not. You have to know your kids! You have to trust your kid that he knows that GTA-V is not real, but rather fake, if you think your kid is mature enough to know that GTA-V is just a video game, and its fake. It would be safe to buy the game from what the studies show. If you think that he or she won’t know the difference between GTA-V and that he or she might steal a car, do drugs, or think its cool to get the cops after them, then don’t buy it. Instead of devoting all your time to examining these video games, parents should be examining their kids.
Knowing your children is the best way to determine whether or not your kid is safe to play the video game. The studies show that violent video games have no effect, or minimal effect on your children. Violence is all around us in today’s society, with the Internet and TV. This generation of youths has to understand what’s acceptable and what isn’t at a young age. I think it shows with all the studies basically showing that these violent video games don’t affect our youth. GTA-V is just a video game. You can turn it off, but real life you cant. Video games don’t kill people; people kill people.