A couple of nights ago Grand Theft Auto 5 was released in Australia. The franchise and other games made by developer Rockstar are known for being controversial. Many of them have excessive amounts of violence, drugs and sex and are constantly blamed for encouraging violent behavior in children. Sunrise reported on the matter the morning after GTA 5’s release:
Firstly, there is no definitive research that says that violent video games encourage violent behavior any more than any type of media or other exposure. Over the past year there have been stories of eight year old children picking up guns and shooting people in America and video games such as Grand Theft Auto are constantly blamed for causing the violence because the child was playing the game earlier. No one questions why the child had access to an age restricted game, let alone a loaded gun.
If anything, there is recent research that says moderate, controlled play, even of these sorts of games, can be beneficial to the age groups they are specified for. The only reason these games could in any way be harmful is not the game’s fault, but more the parent’s.
Many parents these days don’t care what media their child views and others don’t make the effort to involve themselves with their child. For parents, there are parental locks on video game consoles that block content of a certain rating. If for some reason you allow your child to play this sort of game (despite the age restriction) it is up to the parent to explain to the child and help them to understand the differences between the real world and that of a video game. Parents will all too quickly ban something when it would be more beneficial to educate their child about it to give them a better understanding. That way, even if the child comes into contact with media of that type, with a friend or outside the home, they have their own understanding of the context and can process it normally.
It’s at these times children gain important morals from their family. Isn’t it more important to give children skills and understanding to deal with these sorts of situations rather than shelter them? When did you last talk to your child about video games other than telling them to stop playing? More importantly, when was the last time you played with them?