Violent media may lead to a lack of empathy

Image from Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Image from Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

Is There a Market for Empathy? Forbes.com, August 21, 2014.

An interesting and hopeful article that should be read and re-read. The issue here is that parents are becoming more and more aware of how problematic violent video games can be for kids, despite there still being some controversy about how often and how seriously violence from video games and media might be directly affecting children’s evolvement in actual violence.

As the scholarly literature on violent video games has pointed out, it is not just a matter of kids who immerse themselves in violent media being more likely to become violent themselves, but also a concern that just kids may be less empathic to the pain of others.

On the other side, as this article suggests, parents are concerned, dare I say alarmed enough about this trend in the media that they collectively, via their buying power, can impact on the media so that games and media more generally might be poised in a very, indeed opposite direction, namely toward serving as teaching mechanisms that will instill in kids a stronger sense of empathy.

Put differently, many researchers concerned about kids who immerse themselves in violent media contend that these kids are more likely to become desensitized to violence. So too kids immersed in non-violent media, their studies show, are less desensitized. It stands to reason that media events that immerse children in humans seeking empathic solutions rather than unfeeling ones may very well serve to implant a degree of empathy in our kids’s hearts.