Video Game Violence and Toxicity Among Children

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Alexander Gray

I’ve heard my times that video games cause violence. However, I believe people often confuse video game violence and video game toxicity (Photo Courtesy Alexander Gray).

If you’ve ever played video games or ever watched the news, chances are you’ve stumbled across the old saying that video games cause violence. This saying is false, and I believe it is actually a confusion between video game violence and video game toxicity.

Video game violence often refers to the usage of games ultimately resulting in the user developing violent tendencies.

“I believe it desensitizes people at young ages, so violence is more likely to happen because there isn’t that sense of seriousness,” said junior Elise Ledford.

Video games are commonplace in our society and vary in content. Games, movies, and shows often deal with violent topics. Sadly, video games usually take all the blame when catastrophes strike.

“People are seeing this violence [in games] and thinking it’s the norm,” said teacher Stephanie Maves.

Many mass shootings have often been blamed on video game violence such as the Columbine shooting and the Dayton shooting. Games such as Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto V, Fortnite, and Doom are usually the first to be blamed for these mass shootings and are universally blamed for the violent tendencies sparked in these shooters. Often, these games are mainstream and have a reputation for being violent and realistic.

“I believe that violent video games can be linked to someone who has a violent nature, but it doesn’t necessarily make you violent,” said teacher Quentin Grant.

I have to agree with Grant, as video games don’t invoke violence in people. They aren’t the culprit in acts of violence.

A study conducted by Illinois State University and published by Psychological Science concluded that even with an antagonistic partner, there was no connection to violent video games and violent tendencies.

“Neither game violence nor difficulty resulted in increased aggressive behavior toward the antagonistic partner,” Psychological Science stated in their article.

Parents often blame video games for their children’s behavior, as parents will notice them become more hateful and often display rude gestures and attitudes in-game. This is not a case of video game violence as some parents put it. This is a case of video game toxicity.

Video game toxicity is toxic behavior brought by games, or more specifically the communities within those games. This toxic behavior often consists of profane language, slurs, aiding the enemy in a match, quitting when things aren’t in your favor, and yelling. Toxic behavior is often worsened in online games as game chat and voice chat play a big role in video games today, connecting a player to other players and often transferring their habits. The longer you stay in those communities, game chat, and voice chat, the worse off your behavior will be.

Toxic behavior is very common to come across in games. I myself am toxic when it comes to games like Battlefield 1, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and Grand Theft Auto V. However, I’m shocked by the children I come across in games that exhibit toxic behavior. Children playing games nowadays often say things I would never say while playing games. It’s no wonder why parents think games turn their kids violent.

We know a community surrounding the game is a big part of the spread of video game toxicity, but who is responsible for the spread of this toxicity to children? I believe the parents are often to blame for this one. Parents should monitor their kids and who they play with while they play games. On top of that, they shouldn’t allow their kids to play any games rated M for mature as they will undoubtedly run into more toxic players who will rub off on the kids.

“The kids have to get their parents to show their ID to a store employee before they purchased,” said Zach Plahn from The Foot Hill Dragon. “If the game isn’t appropriate for a child, and a parent purchases it anyways, then it is most definitely the parent’s fault for giving their child that game,” Plahn added.