A well publicized article in the UK Daily Mail today reported an unusual story of a man, Mark Bradford, 46,  accused of assaulting a 13 year-old boy after being “killed” by him in the popular interactive video game, Call of Duty.  A grown up assaulting a child is appalling anytime, but to have been provoked by something supposed to be for fun has to call into question the culpability of these games.  The mother of the alleged victim said this, “If you can’t stand losing to a child, you shouldn’t play the game.”

Gamers and proponents of games like Call of Duty, often dismiss incidents like this as actions of a small minority, and that the games themselves should not be questioned as a result.  But think about it, when was the last time you heard of a grown man throttling a young boy over losing at Monopoly?  What you do see, time after time, in many violent crimes is that the accused are gamers.  Does it mean everyone who plays these games will attack kids, or go on violent rampages?  Of course not.

But, should light be shed on the fact that all too often violent video games are part of these stories?  We think so.  It doesn’t necessarily mean that government needs to prevent their distribution, it does lead me to think that there is some collective imperative that more research is done on the correlation between the two.

As a parent, pediatrician or involved citizen, what do you make of these growing incidents between violent video games and real life violence?

 

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There have been quite a few questions in the media and legally about what the justice system can do to regulate the gaming community without infringing on individual’s rights.  I think we all know how I feel about that, but if you don’t, I believe that every person has a right to play whatever they want, but when it comes to children, we need to protect them.  Sometimes that means knowing more than they do, sometimes that means regulating by law what they can and cannot do, and sometimes, just sometimes it means stepping up to the plate and doing what is right, but not what is always popular.

I came across a CNN article about the gaming industry in Japan and how they are allowed to create anything without being censored.  The reporter was explaining how this greatly affects us here in America.  If you have access to the internet, you can download any video game that is created anywhere in the world, not just the ones that are deemed acceptable by our own government. There was a video game that was created in Japan called RapeLay.  It is a video game that was created to simulate a rapist who can follow, groom, and then rape their victims which could be females, children, etc.  It was actually sold on Amazon for a short period of time, until the uproar caused by the public forced them to remove it from the website.  I am appalled that Amazon was ever going to sell the game, but the fact that it was created in the first place is unsettling as well.  The reporter actually interviewed a couple in England that was able to download the game onto their computer via skype and play it as if they had bought the game off the shelf at their local Walmart.

I believe that as parents, and community leaders, as caregivers, educators, and citizens of the United States, we need to ask the gaming community to not allow any games to be downloaded via the internet that are not sanctioned by their companies. Similar to television V-chips, I think there should be a lock available for computers that can allow parents to filter the material that can be downloaded on computers, or foreign material that isn’t regulated by our own government.

That may or may not ever take place, so instead of waiting around, what can you do?  My husband and I were asking this question the other night, this is what we’ve come up with:

We were talking about what we will do when our children become the age where they will be encoutering innappropriate media with or without our supervision.  My husband’s first reaction will be that he will make sure that he knows more than they do in regards to the games that are out there, and the movies that are available.  I think that is great, more power to him and to all of the parents out there that can do that.

I also said that I would put any video game consule that we have out in the common area so that whatever game they play will be in full view of the entire family.  That was one thing that prevented me from watching inappropriate television when I was growing up, because the only television we had was in the family room for all to see! We also talked about going over the ratings system and finding out why they are rated the way they are and what other “gamers” are posting about this particular game before we purchase it.  My husband says that he will periodically watch them playing the game, and this includes at the beginning, through out the middle and at the end.

But what happens when we aren’t home? What happens when he or she is at a friend’s house that doesn’t believe exactly what we believe?  What happens when he or she stumble upon something inappropriate?

It’s on these questions that we would love to see some government action.  Maybe it’s an awareness campaign, similar to the anti drug public service announcements of the 1980’s and 1990’s, maybe it is stricter distribution on suspect material, maybe it’s increased regulation on what can be produced.  Even with all of these things, with the ease of information distribution on the internet, it’s going to take the vigilance of parents to protect our children.


For those parents who think that there is no such thing as rape in the video games being sold on the shelves of our department stores, please think again.  I read an article by a gamer who said that she has played the game and explains what the controversy is all about. 

Here is the explanation that I gathered from the article.  Grand Theft Auto allows you to pick up a prostitute and then proceed to have sex with her in your car, but you have to pay her.  This, in itself might be degrading and terrible enough, but not technically raping a female.  BUT, here is what happens next.  The player has the ability to allow the prostitute to leave the car, and then follow her, beat her up and take back the money.  I would also agree that in that circumstance that would be rape.  You can read the gamers description of the game as well as her opinion of the rape sequence here.

http://spooky.ms11.net/pages/p2.html 

Whether it was considered rape or not, the fact that you can pick up a prostitute and then take her to a seedy side of town and have sex with her, just seems unnecessary, and makes me wonder what happened to us a culture that we would allow our children to partake in such activities….WILLINGLY!!!  As parents, let’s get back to parenting and do what is necessary for our own children, and for society as a whole. I hope that anyone who reads this will ban this particular game from your children’s usage!


I have been researching statistics on violent video games, and these are the facts that I have come across.  I think that parents need to be aware of the factual content in the video games that their children are playing. 

  • For every 10 minutes of playing video games or computer games, boys between the ages of eight and 18 will see between two and 124 acts of violence.

  • In video games rated as Teen or Mature, players will see over 180 violent acts every 40 minutes, or 5,400 violent acts per month.
  • 78 percent of acts of violence in the first ten minutes of video games depict lethal acts of violence. 78 percent of the action is shown up close, and half of the violent segments have humor in them.

  • Mature-rated video game perpetrators are human perpetrators who commit continued acts of violence with weapons; only 10 percent of them are considered to have “good” character traits.

  • In 98 percent of games, the acts the player commits are unpunished; in more than half of video games, perpetrators of violence are rewarded.

I just wonder if parents sat and actually watched their child play these games, how long would they allow their child to play, and how long would they allow them to blow people up, slice and dice characters, and/or bully and kill innocent victims. 

I have read many stories recently of famous couples that are suffering from a spouse that is addicted to playing video games.  These relationships are just examples of the average couple, because there are many couples out there that suffer from this exact same problem.  It puts a strain on the marriage and makes for a very neglected relationship. 

In an attempt to find solutions for those in desperate need of help for media addiction therapy I found a couples therapy group in Seattle, Washington. The therapy group  is led by two women, Dr. Hilarie Cash and Ana DiNoto.  Dr. Hilarie Cash is the co-founder of Internet/Computer Addiction Services and Ana DiNoto is studying for her doctorate in clinical psychology with a focus in video game/Internet addiction at Argosy University in Seattle, Washington. They lead couples therapy sessions in an attempt to:

  • allow individuals in the broken couple to feel as though they are not alone and that other people are suffering with the same problem, so that they can gain support from others.
  • to heal communication problems that are caused by media addiction.
  • help rebuild damaged relationships by showing the individuals in the relationship to recognize the patterns that they participate in that contribute to the addiction.
  • give the addicted member of the couple the ability to understand how their addiction interferes with the intimacy of the relationship, and also to learn the skills that they need to have a satisfying and successful relationship.

I just hope that evidence of these therapy options allows people to understand that media addiction is a real problem, with real solutions.  I also hope that those individuals that are suffering with these issues know that they are not alone.


Posted on September 12th, 2011 in Video Game Violence | Leave a comment

We’ve talked a lot about video games since launching our site.  It’s by no means to diminish the impacts of other forms of media violence, whether TV, Movie or on the internet, but video game violence has unique impact because of the interactivity that it requires.

But for all the statistics, stories, and research we can show, nothing seems to have the dramatic impact on parents and medical professionals as actually seeing the violent video games.  We don’t show it to be gratuitous, only to be frank.  If you think your children can play games that do the following, and it doesn’t bother you, there’s little our public awareness effort can do.  However, if you have the same visceral reaction that we do, please share our concern with others, and join our cause.

WARNING: Highly Graphic Scenes of Violence Within This Video


I read an article from 2007 that was showing that playing video games has altered some children’s personalities as well as their choices and behaviors.  The article went on to say that some experts believe that playing video games is as addictive as using heroine.  The article said that almost 90% of American youth play video games and as much as 15% of them are classified as addicted, this is almost 5 million kids.

From the article, Joyce Protopapas of Frisco, Texas commenting on her 17 year old son, Michael, said: “We went to therapists, we tried taking the game away.  He would threaten us physically. He would curse and call us every name imaginable, It was as if he was possessed.”

The article goes on to state that there was an anonymous website created for gamers who are wanting help.  A posting by an thirteen year old who stated that after playing video games for twelve hours he was suicidal and was thinking he was addicted.  The website also had numerous postings from men who had lost everything because of their video game habits.

The AMA will be deciding later this year as to whether it will classify Video Addiction as a Mental Disorder.  It seems that the article has quotes and opinions from quite a few mothers that would agree that media addiction should be classified as a mental disorder, and also taken more seriously in the addiction arena.

While this article is only one example, we’ve shared many examples of media addiction, specifically video game addiction and it’s impacts on kids.  Do you think if the AMA took this big step, it would have an impact on parents?


Posted on September 9th, 2011 in Media Addiction, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

If you have never heard of the game Angry Birds than you should look around, because it is everywhere. In every catalogue I have received, to every promotional advertisement…this game is literally everywhere you look. They are selling t-shirts, mugs, and baseball hats with this Angry Birds logo on it! Parents are saying that not only are they addicted to this game, but their children are addicted to playing the game as well. Many parents started out giving their children their I-Phone while they were in line at the post office, or in the waiting room of a doctor, and then it turned into this obsession and many of them are having to restrict their child’s usage.
I have talked about research that I have found in regards to violent video games and how they are disgusting and immoral and horrific in nature, but ALL video games are highly addictive, and this goes for any game out there. It seems that this Angry Birds game is so highly addictive that it ends up becoming overwhelming for the player. I just wonder what makes one video game more addictive than the other. I know that in casual conversation men and women alike will refer to their child as being “addicted” to video games and will say that it is a certain game that has them hooked. I have also talked to women who say that all their husband does is play video games, and that he is more obsessed with certain games. I just wonder if it is dependent on the person, or if a game like Angry Birds will hook any type of person, no matter what circumstances! Just be aware before you allow your child to play this game, because it might cause you and your child more harm than good!


Posted on September 7th, 2011 in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Research has shown that there is a large population of children growing up today that are not only addicted to playing video games, but are CLINICALLY addicted to playing video games. If you are wondering if your child might be addicted, or showing signs of addiction. Please read the following signs;

Cravings:
1. Does your child express the urge to go back to gaming and try to control the time played?
2. Does your child feel as though a return to gaming will make them feel better?

Social Effects:
1. Does your child express anger and verbal abuse, sometimes extreme?
2. Do they ever suffer from extreme crying?
3. Does your child have a lack of motivation and direction?
4. Does he/she have a difficulty facing obligations, and procrastinating?
5. Does your child suffer from boredom/inability to find an activity of interest?

Obsession:
1. Does your child have a disruption in sleep patterns?
2. Is your child having fantasies or dreams about the game?
3. Is he/she spending excessive amounts of time sleeping?

Physical Symptoms:
1. Is your child showing signs of nausea, physical illness, colds and/or allergies?
2. Does your child suffer from restlessness, unfilfilling, or taunting dreams?

Psychological Symptoms:
1. Does he/she suffer from anxiety, feelings of emptiness, depression, relief, or thinking about the game for extended periods of time?
2. Does your child have uncontrollable feelings or rampant mood swings?
3. Does your child suffer from extreme fear?
4. Is your child prone to irritability, restlessness, sadness or loneliness?

Your child does not need to show ALL of these symptoms, however, if your child shows more than a few of them, you should take this situation seriously!


It sometimes feels as though we, as parents, are helpless against the giant known as the video game industry. They are a multi-billion dollar industry with worldwide popularity, momentum, and very little oversight.

In places like Korea, there are 300 professional gamers who play in 11 teams. Corporations will pay as much as $20 million dollars per year just to sponsor them. While we’re not reflexively anti-video game, with the facts about the addictive effects that these games have, and that many of the most popular games depict graphic violence, it seems as though parents have few options but to fight against the industry as a whole.

As gaming becomes more prevalent, and potentially becomes even more popular in the US, as it is in places like Korea, here are some facts to consider as parents:

Depending on your perspective this may not seem like too high of a number, but when compared to the use of crack cocaine it shows the quantity of impact.  According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) research, .7 of the population of the United States has been reported of using crack cocaine.  That means that if you compare that out of the entire population of the United States, 12.5% of them are clinically addicted to video games, and only .7 of them are addicted to crack cocaine.  By no means am I comparing the impacts of crack addiction to that of video games.  However with the known impacts any addiction has on relationships, it certainly should give us pause.  If there’s been a nearly 3 decade “War on Drugs” by the Federal government, how come with video game addiction there’s been only a few shots fired?

Clearly, as we’ve discussed, we can’t count of the government to intervene.  Whether it’s the Supreme Court viewing video games as free speech, or the executive and legislative branches viewing the adverse impacts too far down the list of public health issues, parents can’t count on anyone else to look out for your children on media related issues.

So our challenge is this, Step Up!  Become a MVP, and build a family that is attuned the realities of video game addiction today.