May 7, 2014

Editorial: Omnipresent visual violence

In one part of the video game “Grand Theft Auto V,” you have to torture someone to get information about your assassination target.

To continue the game, you must commit four acts of violence on the man, who is tied to a chair: Put a washcloth on his face and pour gasoline on him, beat him with a wrench, use pliers to remove at least one tooth and shock him with a car battery.

He’s hooked up to a heart monitor, and if he dies, you use an adrenaline shot to bring him back.

Sound horrifying? Plenty of kids are playing that game — maybe even yours; it’s one of the most popular on the market.

People who work in local stores tell us that sometimes when parents of younger children are warned about the violence in games, they shrug it off. “He’s played games like that before,” they will say, or, “There’s violence in the movies she sees.”

So many TV shows, movies and video games are saturated in violence. Do we really, in our hearts, believe it has no long-lasting effect on kids because it isn’t real?

Time magazine recently reported that about 90 percent of children in the United States play video games and that more than 90 percent of the games have mature content, including violence.

“While there are studies that don’t show a strong influence between violent media and acts of violence, an ever-growing body of research does actually support that violent games can make kids act more aggressively in their real-world relationships,” Time reported.

The magazine cited a recent study from Iowa State’s Center for the Study of Violence that found hints that violent video games may set kids up to react in more hostile and violent ways.

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