Jo Frost is the Supernanny. Basically, she takes unruly kids and the parents they walk all over and turns them into rule-abiding, behaved families. This woman does not sugar coat the truth, she tells the parent exactly what she sees and advises them on how to fix it.
The first episode of her new show Jo Frost: Extreme Parental Guidance, centered around an issue that has plagued poor parents for about 30 years now… violent video games and their effect on children.
She, along with a doctor, conducted an experiment. 40 boys were asked to play a game for 20 minutes. Half of them played a football game, the other half played a FPS war game, then they had to watch some violent news footage and get their heart rate monitored.
The boys who played the FPS shooter didn’t react as much to the news footage as the boys who played the (probably) Madden football game. According to Jo, only 20 minutes of a violent game was enough to desensitize the boys to violence in real life and perhaps make it easier for them to commit violent acts of their own.
Later on in the program, the boys were being questioned by the doctor. He knocked over a cup of pencils (accidently) during their conversation about the games to gauge how empathetic each child would be to the plight of the perilous pencils now rolling around on the floor. Forty percent of the boys who played the FPS shooter picked up the pencils, thus showing that not only were they desensitized to violence, they were desensitized to being helpful… and less empathetic, I suppose. Eighty percent of the other group cleaned up the mess.
If I were to apply the results of this study to my own life, I would be a war monger. I have played hours and hours of Gears of War Horde with two of my favorite guys, and delight in the dismemberment of my enemies. I have Fairytale Fights, self described as Ultra Violent but cute!, sitting next to my 360 calling over to me. I giggled when I threw bodies around in Bioshock to stun/kill enemy splicers. Hey, guess what. I hate killing spiders and most insects, unless they’re out to get me. I hate hurting people, unless they’re hurting me, and I cherish the life of myself and those around me, and would never, ever willingly take one.
Like the source article says, correlation is not validation. These kids were placed in a clinical environment and then questioned. This would make anyone uncomfortable, so the results, in my opinion, are skewed. We knew nothing of the children’s family and social life, which is a large impact on anyone and shapes the person and his or her behavior.
It’s really easy to blame problems on something else. Until parents, guardians and people in society that blindly agree with the “video games are evil!!” sentiment really look into the issue for themselves, this opinion will float around and people like me will keep on writing about it, and railing against it.
In 20 years a real study might come out that validates the video games = evil people idea. If that happens, I will eat my words. And then probably go play a FPS shooter, or something.