Video games aren’t the only influence on kids and teens, but…

Leading media violence expert warns town that game burning could do more harm than good, Polygon, January 4, 2013

A perplexing article about the planned burning of video games in Newtown after the school shooing. An academic researcher, with a number of articles published on violent video games, speaks out against the burning of the games since he sees the vehemence toward the games as being more or less like a witch hunt against the wrong witch, namely violent video games rather  than guns.

An article that must be read carefully. One must read the professor’s words with care.

An article also, in my opinion, riddled with inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and non sequiturs.

First, at least in my reading of the academic literature on violent media and violent video games in particular, the sheer number that document reasons for concern vastly outnumber those that claim their are little reason for concern. So the professor, I think, is misrepresenting the data.

Second, when the professor claims that focus on the video games undermines the likelihood of focus on the role of guns in the actual shooting, he seems to be saying that two discussions can not happen simultaneously or that two causes cannot be in play at once.

Third, his comparisons to and concerns about violent plays in classic Greek times or  violent media in the 1950s seem more than a little off. One of the major concerns about violent media in our time is that it has become much more graphic, much more detailed and in our faces than anything done in the past, when much of the violence happened off stage, off screen. So violence in the media in our time is much more problematic. Further, in Greek times and in the 50s, violence in the media was not so overwhelming in sheer volume. The Greeks went to see plays only a few hours per week. There were only three channels on TV in the 50s. Not so now, when media violence carpet-bombs many kids eyes and ears and psyches daily, hourly. 

But at least on one point, I agree. Blaming the media is bogus, on a certain level. Violent media is one factor in the Newtown murders. Playing the blame game allows parents and the society to not look at themselves.