As part of my assessment for my MSc, I have been doing a joint poster project with my friend Rebecca surrounding the topic of violent video games. Are violent video games really causing our kids to be more aggressive? I say “our” kids – I don’t have kids. But I WAS a kid. And I played violent video games. So did my brothers. I wouldn’t consider us to be particularly aggressive. Maybe we were boisterous kids, but that was arguably before the games, and plenty of people have boisterous kids.
Image from GeekWithLaptop.com
Anecdotal evidence, you say? Maybe. But some facts and figures from the US of A -
“According to the FBI in 2009,The arrest rate for juvenile murders has fallen 71.9% between 1995 and 2008. The arrest rate for all juvenile violent crimes has declined 49.3%. In this same period, video game sales have more than quadrupled. The FBI statistics show that video game sales have been on the rise, while all juvenile violent crimes have fallen in the same amount of time.”
OK, but that’s just someone saying a thing on a debating website, I hear you cry. I won’t lie: I’ve made no effort to track down that report from the FBI. It could be made up. This is the internet, afterall. EDIT: Oh look, found it.
You might have read some news articles talking about a correlation between violent video gameplay and subsequent aggressive behaviour in children. Bollocks to that, is what I say. Correlation, as any good scientist knows, does not equate to causation. It might be that children that already have an aggressive disposition are more likely to be drawn to play violent games in the first place. They see violent games as a way of directing their aggression, which surely is no bad thing. We don’t see a correlation between calm kids and violent video gamplay, maybe because calm kids don’t get attracted to play violent video games (they’d much rather play bonkers colourful games like Katarmari Forever or Hamster Ball.)
And what about extraneous variables? Studies that show these correlations tend to ignore the children’s family history, or trait violence. Who knows, these kids might come from abusive homes, and violence is all they know. Oh, and we usually only see the short term effects of violent influences – what about a longitudinal study, please? Do these same kids grow up into violent adults? Or is that a rare thing? Are the majority of violent video game players (i.e. MOST WESTERN TEENAGERS) likely to populate the globe with murderers? I think not. They will probably be accountants, or contestants on Britain’s Got Talent, or some other, (arguably) normal lifetime pursuit.
Perhaps some “more research is needed” – I hate to fall back on that old line, but it’s true. Video games are here to stay, so rather than bitch and moan about the possible influence of young children, and their subsequent development into aggressive teens (view not supported by evidence), maybe it’s high time we started looking into the other factors influencing aggression in young people. Maybe there’s deep-rooted issues. Maybe aggressive children need early-intervention programmes. Maybe we need to teach the negativity of violence to young people. What about anger management strategies for children? Don’t scoff – the naughty step works wonders for Supernanny.
Interested in reading more? Go for it -
Mighty unusual film, this. Yes, there is a degree of goat-staring, but that is not the entire plot.
A dark comedy, based around true events (Americans are weeeeeird), we follow the story of the PSYOP movement. Some of it is frighteningly believable (and historically ineffective in terms of interrogation methods) such as the brainwashing techniques (Barney the Dinosaur, anyone?), but some of it, I find hard to swallow (I’m not into the whole “psychic” thing. Although I know people who are, so I will not pass judgement).
However, believable or not, this film is very fast-paced, pretty whacky (Clooney seems to be doing a lot of whacky at the moment) and very entertaining.
Drugs! Goats! Moustache! And dancing. Lots of dancing.
Get with it.
I started “liking” the Chilis after I became deeply enamoured with a boy in my class when I was about 12. He loved RHCPs, and I thought (stupidly, I realise now) that by pretending to like them, I would win his affections. Oh dear, dear, dear. It does not work like that.
However, by listening to a lot of the Chili’s music, I fell in love with THEM*. And I hunted around for lots of less-well-known songs from them. One that I did discover, and immediately formed a deep, painful relationship with, was the beautiful “My Friends”. If you need a remedy to the slightly depressing tone of this, try “Road Trippin’”, which is still less funk than their famous stuff, but more uplifting.
*It probably helps that frontman Anthony Kiedis is INTENSELY hot in that demi-Navajo sort of way. And he doesn’t seem to like wearing many clothes. Nom.
Ooh, look, shiny official Brain Awareness Day poster!
Wow. I honestly don’t want to say too much, because I really think you should go and read this book yourself. All of the reader reviews are right: it’s fascinating, it’s educational and most importantly, it is very very readable.
I’ve seen Ramachandran talk live (at the Royal Institution) and the enthusiasm and showmanship that he presented then really comes through in this book.
I actually got two copies for Christmas – one from Ben and one from my dad. Confusion over Amazon wishlists – Ben obviously doesn’t know how to use them! Bless him. So rather than send the book back, we gave one copy right back to my dad (as he is all about consciousness, phenomenology, and the mystery of the mind).
Now, it took me three weeks to read this. It took my dad one flight back to Dubai. He reads insanely fast! But he says he couldn’t put it down. He’s a very brain-modular sort of person, and his favourite chapters were towards the end, when Ramachandran discusses qualia, and the source and purpose of consciousness.
Personally, I’m all about the earlier chapters, when Ramachandran looks at a variety of different neurological phenomena. He presents us with a variety of case studies, each with very particular forms of brain damage, leading to very unusual problems. There are his famous “phantom limb” patients – people who, following an amputation, can still feel sensation in their absent limb. Later, he returns to the subject of phantoms, by discussing the mindboggling (but increasingly rare) phenomenon of pseudocyesis, or false pregnancy.
But I don’t want to discuss this book at length – I feel it would detract from your own experience when reading it.
If you like Oliver Sacks, you will love this. If you like “unusualness” and maybe even mystery stories, this is for you. Go get it. There are even some optical illusions you can play with (just don’t do them on the train – you’ll look like an idiot).
Don’t fancy reading? Ramachandran has also presented his cases in a two-part BBC4 documentary.
OK, at time of writing, I am taking a very short break from furiously revising for a research methods exam. It’s my last exam, so I’ll be working hard for this one.
Bearing that in mind, I have not much to offer you today except this photo of a squirrel, taken with my phone, in Regent’s Park last Friday.
Normal service will be resumed shortly; watch this space.