Parenting is the key to preventing violence, not video games

Roberto Campos

A couple of weeks ago, a 15-year-old kid named Nehemiah Griego allegedly killed his Albuquerque, New Mexico, family of five in their home with plans of extending his killings to a local Wal-Mart.

After all of these recent shootings that resulted in the deaths of so many innocent people, it makes me feel pretty helpless knowing that something can be done about the problem. 

In our helplessness as Americans, we seek answers – for something to blame for these terrible incidents so that we can understand why terrible events like this happen. But are we jumping to conclusions too quickly?

These shootings have led to discussions about violent media and guns at the center of conversations that include the words “censorship” and “restrictions.”

I am someone who avidly participates in the video game community. I have played ever since I can remember, so it’s hard for me not to defend video games because of my biased view. I will continue to assert that violent media, such as video games, movies and television shows, does not cause people to want to kill people through desensitization.

Nehemiah and people who have committed similar tragedies were extreme individual cases where video games had an effect on their psyche because they did not have the mental capacity to distinguish real life from a game scenario. But I feel, as an American who has entered a social contract with our society, that it would be careless for me to say that more research doesn’t need to be conducted in terms of violent media.

If there’s some harmful effect that would cause children to be susceptible to desensitization in a manner that would cause them to want to kill people, we need to know about it. There’s a difference between knowing and assuming though, and with the research we have on video game violence, it goes both ways. So that’s why this issue needs more attention – so events like Sandy Hook and the one in Albuquerque can be prevented.

A key to prevention lies with parenting.

I was in GameStop the other day, and a kid around the age of 10 asked if he could get a game called Resident Evil. His father told his son that it was a good game and proceeded to buy it for him.

Resident Evil is a mature-rated video game that involves the killing of zombies and isn’t supposed to be played by people who are 10. The video game industry has a self-regulated body that rates games called the Electronic Software Rating Board (ESRB), and it’s a system that works very well. But it can only work well if parents use it to monitor what their children are playing.

In the media, it has been highlighted that Nehemiah had a fascination with violent video games. It is likely that either his parents bought him the games that weren’t rated, or he played them at friend’s house. He was playing games that were too mature for him, but I’m sure he didn’t know any better.

I was a 13-year-old kid that played and loved Halo – to a kid, it’s fun doing what everyone else is doing. To be honest, I should have never played Halo at 13. My parents bought me the game because I really wanted it, and most parents fall into that trap.

Parents need to understand the games their kids are playing and make sure they’re the right games for them. While more research is conducted on violent media, the only power we have to prevent kids from playing these games is parenting.

Parents need to be parents and talk to their kids and understand what they play. Video games aren’t just for kids anymore. We’re well past the days of Pong and Super Mario.

It’s something that, as a society, we need to understand before we can move forward to make sure something like what Nehemiah did won’t happen again.

And it’s something that we, as college students planning to enter the “real world” soon – where many of us will have children – need to understand and keep in mind.