Teachers Blame Violent Games For, Um, Everything

Back in the good old days, when the world contained no violence.

Like the return of the tides, so it must be that every so often a body calls for better regulation, tighter legislation, or the outright banning of violent video games. While we absolutely agree that children should not be playing adult-rated games, there’s no peer-reviewed evidence for a long-term, significant negative effect on young people from playing violent games (and that’s despite so very many organisations funding research that would prove it), but once more the press is bursting with scare stories over the indelicate subject. This time it’s UK teachers claiming younger class members are having their behaviour and health influenced by games. Are there new findings we should be taking notice of to support these claims? Guess. And there’s a reason why this is more serious than our rolling our eyes at yet another scare story. There is potentially great harm to be caused by this. Below I argue why.

Of course what’s actually happening is one person, Alison Sherratt (primary teacher, and junior vice president of the ATL), is giving speech at a conference for the Association Of Teachers And Lecturers. That’s happening today, and clearly there has been a PR machine in full whirr, ensuring that we all know about it in advance. This is building up to the ATL’s plan to call for further research into the subject, which is obviously a good thing. Sadly, they seem to have already made up their minds in advance of that.

It is claimed that there is a rise in “hitting, hurting and thumping” in the school playground, and this it seems is being attributed to the unregulated access for primary school children to games designed for adults. The teacher, Mrs Sherratt, then will add, according to the Telegraph, that children are “growing up desensitised to aggression and bloodshed.”

Unfortunately, rather than Mrs Sherratt’s talk being based on studies demonstrating these trends, they are instead her anecdotal observations of her own classroom, making her claims about as helpful as declaring porridge to be to blame. Rather than citing evidence that shows a growing level of violence in primary schools – something that we should all sit up and take notice of, obviously – instead it’s just something she’s “noticed”. There’s a “lot more hitting, hurting, thumping etc in the classroom for no particular reason.” Well, if it’s more than there was in my classrooms in 1982, then it must be all out warfare right now, kids turning up with semi-automatics and hand grenades.

A “small scale survey” has taken place, however. Er, in Sherratt’s school. This showed that “almost all” pupils had TVs with PCs and consoles in their bedrooms. But unfortunately, at least with what’s been revealed of her speech so far, this didn’t seem to ask whether they were using them to play anything violent. Small matter. So instead the concerned teacher screeches her handbrake and veers into, “I would suggest that if children are taking part in this fairly solitary existence this will impact on their speaking and listening skills which, in turn, will impact on their ability to concentrate and learn in school.” Which has exactly what to do with anything about violence in the classroom?

RPS is extremely concerned about any possible negative effect of violent gaming on children. Of course we don’t believe that games have impunity because we happen to enjoy them, and we fully support and endorse the age ratings the games come with. Clearly parents should respect those, and children shouldn’t be playing games deemed suitable only for adults. We want them protected from seeing content that might upset or disturb them, and we want our games protected from being accessed by children so we can continue to enjoy adult content. But there can be no room whatsoever for such anecdotal and entirely unevidenced claims being presented in a major conference. It’s unacceptable.

But unfortunately this seems to be more about blame. Blame for all the ills in a child’s life. Sherratt’s speech contains the following:

“Obesity, social exclusion, loneliness, physical fitness, sedentary solitary lives – these are all descriptions of children who are already hooked to games … Sadly there is a notable correlation between the children who admit to playing games and those who come to school really tired.”

Just about everything imaginable is wrong with that. Negative features of childhood that have existed for centuries longer than gaming, the implication that they’re ‘addicted’ to gaming, and obfuscation of correlation and causation, without any meaningful evidence for even the correlation. It’s unhelpful, it’s poorly educated, and worst of all, randomly blaming the bogeyman du jour means ignoring all the multifactorial causes of that long list of symptoms. By dumping everything on gaming, the real reasons a child may be lonely, excluded, or unwell goes unrecognised, and that child goes unhelped, and that’s why we get so utterly furious at this sort of empty, scaremongering rhetoric.

I say this every time, and it’s always worth repeating: If games are genuinely harmful to children, and to adults, and if playing violent video games has a long-term negative consequence, then we want to know about it. It is of primary concern to us. But when piles of evidence from multiple studies over many years have shown only short-term, extremely minor aggression level changes (still something that absolutely merits our attention, clearly), and nothing has been shown that supports the claims being made to this conference, and indeed any number of other public-facing declarations of doom and danger, it only makes it more likely that the truth will go unheard, potentially endangering those likely to be negatively impacted. Playing this short-sighted, and frankly, incredibly lazy blame game ensures the multitude of factors that lead to a child’s unhappiness are undiagnosed, and that’s perhaps the sort of thing a union of teachers should be caring about. Maybe?


  1. Jams O'Donnell says:

    I bet they don’t blame them for learning!

    • Phantoon says:

      No, that’d have to happen first.

      • TechnicalBen says:

        Done and done.
        What was your point?

      • Flavioli says:

        I actually learned a ton from Civ2 as a kid. Mention of things like Adam Smith or the Great Library piqued my interest when I was little and caused me to find out more about the topics. I certainly knew who Adam Smith was probably a decade or more before most people in my class. I also learned a whole lot of vocabulary from playing well-written RPGs.

        • canonfodder says:

          Same here!
          I learnt some much about the history of Europe and to a lesser extend Asia through Age of Empires 2. Hell I loved learning about Attila the Hun and the Mayans etc. Man I am jonsing for that game again.
          *runs off to reinstall AoE2+C*

  2. Phantoon says:

    This war on children by the “concerned parents” needs to stop. Ever since the idea of childhood first came about post industrial era, “concerned citizens” have been doing their best to stomp on the rights of these human beings. I for one will not stand for this backwards and out of date fearmongering.

  3. copernicus_phoenix says:

    As a scientist, I really wish more people would learn that the plural of ‘anecdote’ is not ‘data’. It’s doubly shocking that this kind of weak minded thinking comes from a teacher.

    • Meat Circus says:

      As a non-scientist, I wish more people would learn that “THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!” is the rallying cry of utter berks.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Be thankful you don’t have to read educational research. It is very narrative driven with lots of stories and minute sample sizes. No one wants to admit that to do educational research that can bear statistically significant results you need a large sample size that either comes from repeated attempts or multiple teachers doing it at once. Nor do they want to admit that there’s a systematic problem where a lot of the research is done as theses, and the majority of ed majors writing those theses don’t like math.

      Crap like that is why some teachers still think multiple intelligence theory is valid. I’m an ed major right now and it is just dreary.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It’s doubly shocking that this kind of weak minded thinking comes from a teacher.

      It’s not shocking in the least.

      Which is, if you want, depressing.

    • Moorkh says:

      As a teacher, I wish my colleagues wouldn’t write/teach about things they lack any deeper understanding of.
      Obviously, “society” is to “blame” for disinterested, shallow, consumerist and un(-self-)disciplined children, a society that has produced parents that are equally disinterested, shallow, consumerist and un(-self-)disciplined. Boo, society, I hope you feel bad and change for the better right now!

      Games, on the other hand, are just a medium of expression, identification or escape as any other. Shame how that somehow escaped my fellow teachers, though.

  4. Meat Circus says:

    I don’t know about you, but this idea of children “acting out” scenarios is a NEW and TERRIFYING and VERY REAL THREAT.

    I demand that the government pass a law to illegalize any manifestation of imagination in our youth before this outbreak of playfulness becomes A DEADLY PLAGUE OF CREATIVE EXPRESSION.

    • Phantoon says:

      BAN ARMS!

      And not guns. I mean the ones these terrorists claim to have been “born with”.

      • copernicus_phoenix says:

        And legs. And feet. It’s well known that the shoebomber wore explosives strapped to his feet. Only terrorists should be afraid of having their legs and feet removed – are you now, or have you ever been, a terrorist?

    • Stuart Walton says:

      How long before simulating a violent act becomes a PLAYCRIME?

    • apocraphyn says:

      Oh lawd. I remember pretending I was the titular character of “Assassin” from the Amiga on the school playground as a child. Trying as hard as I could to explain that I was TOTALLY BAD-ASS AND COULD SHOOT BOOMERANGS AND SHIT!!

      …naturally, I have grown up to become a professional assassin, my preferred method of execution being “death by infinitely respawning explosive boomerang” and my attire du jour being a well-fitted blue tracksuit. Needless to say, I’m employed on a frequent basis.

  5. Choca says:

    Man, those Children things do sound dangerous, maybe they should ban them.

    • Kent says:

      This is exactly the mindless mindset of the teachers – who are oh so very afraid of the little demons in their classrooms, but it goes without saying that the real thugs are the ones who doesn’t even know how to boot a computer – like the foreign shitheads that waltz around my apartments during the evenings. Oh, how I long for the legalization to plant claymores near the apartment. If it’s anything that does encourage violence at all – it’s children in general.

      • Phantoon says:

        Yes. I believe a healthy part of parenting is fantasizing, in some way, your children dying so you don’t have to deal with them. Even if it’s innocuous as “teachers obsessed with violence in video games abduct the kid and drown them in Atlas Shrugged”.

    • Shuck says:

      The American gun-nuts I talk to are convinced that the relatively high rate of violent crime (excluding murder) in the UK is due to the ban on firearms. (No, I have no idea how that’s supposed to work.) So obviously, if you ban whatever the kids are into that’s making them violent, it’ll just make them more violent. Or you need to give them guns. I’m unclear on how it all works.

      • PodX140 says:

        Shuck, there is actually quite a lot of hard evidence supporting those “gun-nuts” claims. However, I in no way condone giving guns to everyone without any sort of licencing/background checks, but there most certainly is a link between elevated crime and lack of legal firearms.

        • Shuck says:

          Except in the countries that have highly restrictive gun laws but not the same level of violent crime. (Because you know, violent crime obviously has nothing to do with social and economic factors…)

        • enobayram says:

          I think this is another case where moderation is actually a bad thing. If you make it moderately hard to obtain weapons, only criminals will have them and not the regular citizens (what kind of a distinction is that?). In this case, either EXTREME is better than moderation.

        • Tams80 says:

          Well, in the UK, you can legally possess certain ‘guns’ (those are actually artillery etc.) with a license. We still get people with licenses misusing them (to put it very mildly). Sure, there are just a few cases and more widespread ‘gun’ ownership may reduce gun crime, but I don’t think there is a perfect situation.

          Back on topic; children are people too. They’re the future so a little more respect for them would probably be nice, even if they are inexperienced.

      • DarkNoghri says:

        The idea is that free access to firearms acts as a deterrent to criminals. If one person has a gun, and the other does not, who do you think a criminal would prefer to attack/rob/etc? The person without the gun. If, among a group of people, a large percentage are likely to own/carry guns, would that make criminals less likely to want to assault them compared to a group of people who didn’t have guns?

        Now, take that possibility away. Ban guns entirely. Now law-abiding citizens have either turned in their guns or had them confiscated. Suddenly, there is no possibility that a criminal will run into someone packing heat. Suddenly, that deterrent is gone. There’s no worry that that little old lady that he’s planning to rob has a revolver in her purse.

        If guns are banned, and a the government doing the banning can’t totally lock down the supply, it’s quite possible that criminals will still have guns. Maybe they never had them registered and thus they weren’t confiscated. It’s certainly possible that they wouldn’t turn in guns of their own free will. Or they stole one. Or made one. It would be very hard, if not impossible, to enforce it that everybody everywhere didn’t have guns. Basically, criminals now have guns and ordinary people do not

        Now instead of a level playing field, the advantage goes to the criminals. And they know it. They are undeterred and unworried, and crime goes up.

        As for the second half of your statement; that’s nonsense. If you ban what makes people violent, and the ban is enforceable, it makes people less violent. Firearms don’t make people violent. They make violent people more easily effective. Banning firearms (which is hard to enforce) therefore won’t make people less violent, because they weren’t a source of violence in the first place.

        tl;dr: Guns don’t make people violent, so banning them doesn’t make people less violent.

        • Tams80 says:

          The idea behind a complete (or almost complete with strict licensing for certain allowed weapons) is that the difficulty in obtaining a weapon acts as a deterrent. I think that neither method is better than the other.

        • Docslapper says:

          But this works for all bans (including video game bans). The logic goes something like this:

          Within the population, a set amount of people perform an activity (playing games, buying guns, taking drugs, fox hunting, whatever). Within that enthusiast population there are some members who are really into whatever it is and make it the centrepiece of their lives, and some who are only vaguely interested in it, and a whole spectrum of enthusiasm in between.
          Now ban whatever the activity is. The vaguely-interested people will probably stop doing it because it’s now illegal. But at some point in the enthusiasm bell-curve there will be the people who continue with the activity despite it now being illegal.

          So the ban has done two things:
          1. reduced (but not stopped) the activity that was banned, in proportion to the risk of getting caught and the punishment for getting caught.
          2. converted a part of the population from law-abiding citizens to criminals.
          Those criminals are now released from every other control on their behaviour. They may previously have obeyed age ratings, safety limits, humane hunting rules, normal standards of acceptable dress, now they don’t have to.

          To go back to video games: if we banned video games then anyone playing them is a criminal, so we might as well have some real violence in there. Let’s make a proper murder & rape simulator since we’re going to jail for playing Mario anyway.
          To use the gun example: if you’re into guns then to enjoy that hobby you must become a criminal. Since you’re already a criminal for just owning a gun, you might as well own a proper, fully automatic one and fund your gun habit by trading them to other criminals.

          tl;dr: banning things is stupid.

          • andycheese says:

            I cannot believe the libertarian, pseudo-anarchic nonsense I’m hearing in this discussion.

            “Banning things is Stupid”

            Anyone who says this is either trying to be funny, or is just flat out stupid. Bans are an integral part of any modern, organized and civilized society; these bans are referred colloquially as ‘laws’. ‘Laws’, permit the state to proscribe particular modes of behavior which might be deemed detrimental to a happy, fair and productive social environment. In particular instances, these laws do not merely apply to the behaviors themselves, but to the means through which these behaviors might be accomplished i.e. (in the UK at least), the open sale and use of guns. The gun is an invention whose sole purpose is to wound/kill living things, unlike the questionable evidence supporting the negative effects of videogames, there are myriad of quotable instances where the open sale and use of guns has led to tragic consequences. Indeed, it was the actions of Thomas Hamilton at Dunblane, whose weapons were all legally purchased, that led to a complete ban on the public sale and private ownership of handguns in the UK. The argument put forward by the previous commenter would suggest; that this ban somehow “converted part of the population into criminals”, is simply farcical. This ban came into force 1998, nearly two years after the Dunblane massacre, during which time there had been numerous handgun amnesties. Any persons who privately owned guns had ample opportunity to hand them over and thereby conform to upcoming legislation. Indeed, one has to question the motivations of anyone who did not conform to this law. Do you seriously believe these persons were somehow overnight converted into illegal weapons traffickers, simply because they wished to pursue a hobby? If you like collecting, you can still purchase decommissioned firearms, which serve very well as aesthetic replacements. Is it not more likely that these persons did not adhere to the ban through more practical and less innocuous motivations?

            Equally the argument that banning guns ‘simply drives them underground’, holds no water. The vast majority of firearms used in illegal activity, whether under an enforced ban, or not, involves the use of illegally acquired weapons. This trade in ‘unregistered’ weapons was already well underway during the free-sale of handguns. For example, in 1984, during Malcolm Fairley’s reign of sadistic serial rape, my friend’s father purchased a Browning 9mm from a in a pub in London. He purchased this gun illegaly precisely because it was easier to obtain from an illegal source and would permit him to defend his family more swiftly. I won’t pass judgement on his actions, but it proves the point. A ban on firearms, anywhere, does not prevent, or create, this type of activity. What it doesprevent are horrendous incidents like Dunblane, where mentally unhinged individuals can readily use an, otherwise difficult to acquire, means to commit atrocities. In any society there has to be a balance struck between individual liberties and civic wellbeing and I, for one, think a ban on guns is a small price to pay. Seeing a ban on guns as synonymous with a ban on violent videogames is idiotic and only serves to support the argument that some people have a problem telling the difference between real and simulated violence.

  6. princec says:

    These people are in a position to spot changing patterns of behaviour – don’t take their observations with a pinch of salt.

    I make computer games, and I play computer games, and I’m also a parent to two very small children, and uncle to some considerably older children. There is absolutely no question that children act out exactly what they see. This is what they do; this is how they learn; this is what teachers are telling us they are doing when we are not in charge of them and they are. They have an impartial eye on our childrens’ behaviour.

    What the teachers are saying is nothing like “computer games make kids violent”. It is that “parents and guardians are allowing children to see and play inappropriate computer games which encourage violence”. Do you think they mean Angry Birds, or Battlefield 3? Of course they don’t mean Angry Birds. Does this have to be spelt out to everybody or do we all want to write engraged essays in the style of Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells?

    Unrelatedly, I also believe realistically violent video games have subtle effects on aggression in adults, but that’s literally another story.

    • Meat Circus says:

      If parents are supplying 18-rated games to young kids, they are being irresponsible. But that’s not what the story says.

    • John Walker says:

      What you “believe” isn’t really of paramount importance to the discussion, unfortunately. And as you can see in the quotes above, this teacher is not saying the reasonable comments you attribute.

      • Groove says:

        For people that can’t be bothered looking up, here is a non-reasonable comment:

        “Obesity, social exclusion, loneliness, physical fitness, sedentary solitary lives – these are all descriptions of children who are already hooked to games … Sadly there is a notable correlation between the children who admit to playing games and those who come to school really tired.”

        No distinctions between types of games were made in this quote.

        • princec says:

          I don’t think that it matters what type of games it is to achieve these particular effects; if we let ours stay up playing games they get sod all sleep, wake up crappily in the morning, tantrum, and generally act like little shits. Tired kids do not learn, and have shitty temperaments. Teachers know this. I have the fortune of being brother-in-law to someone who works in a creche and was once son-in-law to a primary school teacher and I got some remarkable insight into kids behaviour over the last 15 years. Not how it is actually changing – kids have always been like this when they are over tired – but how the number of kids coming in to school in this state has steadily increased over the years.

          Relatedly, our eldest’s tantrums all got so much for us about 3 weeks ago we stopped letting her watch any television at all, and playing on the iPad. The transformation into pleasant little girl literally occurred overnight and has stayed. We are witnessing a direct correlation between video entertainment and acting like a little shit. As soon as we let her have the TV again – bam! Nightmare.

          • KikiJiki says:

            If the child is tired that speaks to me as more a symptom of them GOING TO BED TOO LATE rather than proving that electronic entertainment makes kids tired and cranky.

            Honestly without more information in your posts it just looks like you’re blaming something else for your examples of poor parenting.

          • Mman says:

            “Relatedly, our eldest’s tantrums all got so much for us about 3 weeks ago we stopped letting her watch any television at all, and playing on the iPad. The transformation into pleasant little girl literally occurred overnight and has stayed. We are witnessing a direct correlation between video entertainment and acting like a little shit. As soon as we let her have the TV again – bam! Nightmare.”

            Because there’s no way she could have just been acting good so she could get her favourite things back as soon as possible.

          • Zephro says:

            I went to bed late all the time as a kid because I was reading books. Should we ban them?

          • copernicus_phoenix says:

            So, essentially, you stopped being a poor parent? Who knew that would have such a major effect? Perhaps you should alert the Daily Fail about your remarkable discovery?

            My parents didn’t let me have a TV or computer in my room until I was a teen. I still managed to play Doom and Xcom and all the rest, but they kept an eye on me when I did so, and made sure I went to bed at a reasonable hour. Most of my friends were treated the exact same way. I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine that this might have something to do with why none of us ever got into serious trouble, or fell behind at school.

            Good parenting – not actually rocket science.

          • princec says:

            KikiJiki: you rude cunt. How dare you insinuate my parenting is poor, especially when I’ve just told you of the diagnosis and cure of a behavioural problem, which I know for a fact to work for a whole load of other kids?

            Do what you want with your kids, but if they hit my kids at school, I’ll be round your house, and you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

            To those attempting to conflate the argument by resorting to sensationalism and exaggeration: no teachers have said that kids playing games are mudering loonies. No teachers have even said that computer games actually cause the various effects you are now exaggeratingly state that occur. They have simply stated that there is a correlation. Do you understand what a correlation is?

          • copernicus_phoenix says:


            Do what you want with your kids, but if they hit my kids at school, I’ll be round your house, and you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

            So, your solution to aggression amongst children is, err, aggression? Perhaps you should think about that a bit.

          • Zephro says:

            ” How dare you insinuate my parenting is poor”

            Because you invited criticism by posting about it on a public forum? It honestly doesn’t sound like the iPad or TV was to blame just that the kid was spoilt.

            Also the whole point of this article is that anecdotal evidence is no way near a correlation, so clearly you don’t understand what a correlation is.

          • kael13 says:

            I think parents often forget that they were once children, too.

            When I was naughty as a child, my parents took away the things I liked; it may have been access to the TV or having sweets after dinner.

            Of course, I played nice in order to see their return and a couple of weeks later I’d be exactly as before.

            Children aren’t stupid and neither is one particular thing to blame for their behaviour.

          • princec says:

            @copernicus_phoenix: you, too, are a rude cunt. And from your post pretty obviously don’t bother to read posts to which you respond properly, nor, I guess, do you have children of your own.

            I was not talking about violent computer games; or watching TV after 6pm and staying up late; or even having a TV in her bedroom, none of which my daughter has ever had. This was an observation on her behaviour after we banned all video entertainment – of which she actually had very little previously anyway, less than an hour a day. The change was profound; after a couple of days she even stopped asking for it. That such a tiny amount of video entertainment would have such a remarkable effect is something you would simply never guess whether you’re a parent or not.

            It is probably news to you but being a parent is not a simple case of following a recipe. None of us know what the fuck we are doing. Nobody ever told us how to do it. This is why none of this stuff is obvious, why this issue has been brought up in the first place, and why you might want to STFU before being sarcastic about my kids and parenting or present to me your little angels and show off just how amazing they are at which point I’ll get me coat.

          • Apples says:

            princec: what do you think it was about the iPad and TV that caused tantrums and bad behaviour? If it was overstimulation then isn’t that a result of the wrong content being viewed rather than the actual iPad/TV being harmful? If not that, then what, and why did the removal of the iPad/TV not cause extra tantrums because the kid wanted them back?

            (this is not a “YOU’RE WRONG” post, I actually don’t understand it. My parents also accused me of having bad behaviour because of being on the computer but for me the computer literally turned into my passion and my career, and any removal from it resulted in short-term calmness but after a while just complete boredom and resentment. I wasn’t really the type to throw tantrums but I would just move onto books instead – and reading trashy fiction from the library is not somehow more inherently worthwhile – and when I ran out of those I’d have even worse behaviour because I was bored out of my mind and restricted from doing the work/learning, as well as the play, that I wanted to do on the PC.)

            By the way responding to suggestions that your parenting method might not be great by tossing out the worst swearword you can think of is not a great way to improve your standing or make people change their minds!!

          • copernicus_phoenix says:

            Perhaps a little less ‘rude c**t’ and ‘STFU’ and turning up at other people’s houses looking to pick a fight (or at least start an argument) might help you set a better example? Food for thought.

            The fact is that, despite the howls of outrage it provokes when you suggest it, bad parenting is not unicorns. It exists. Virtually every teacher (except, it seems, this one) will tell you that the worst behaved children always seem to have the least capable parents. The taboo over criticising bad parenting (born, no doubt, out of the fact that parents represent an electorally more significant group than either teachers or gamers – the usual scapegoats) is clearly causing real damage.

          • princec says:

            @Apples – the kinds of programmes she watched – Spongebob, Peppa Pig, Ben and Holly’s Little Kindgom, In The Night Garden, Dora the Explorer, Disney cartoon films, Tinkerbell faerie stuff – didn’t explain it. Nor did the kinds of games she played – Angry Birds, Cut the Rope, Plants vs Zombies.

            Her behaviour was actually manifested very subtle as a complete lack of attention span. She’d be interested in something for only a few minutes at a time; it was the attention switching and failure to complete anything – with subsequent lack of the sense of reward that completion brings, and a general refusal by her parents to pander to whatever her next whimsy was – that seemed to be causing the issues.

            When her attention span lengthened back to what I considered “normal” – that is, she’d actually sit and play with some toys for half an hour – that’s when the screaming tantrums, strops, etc. all stopped.

            I can only hypothesise but it seems to be something about the way video entertainment is delivered or available that does something to her attention span.

            btw – the evidence the teachers have may not all be anecdotal; they are required by OFSTED to keep accurate behavioural reports of children from pre-school age onwards, including all incidents between other children. Not all schools do this well or bother at all; they achieve lower ratings from OFSTED as a result.

          • bahamut says:

            for someone who calls his child little shit ….. yeah games are the problem.

          • Apples says:

            Thanks for clarification. Can’t speak for your kid in particular, and I’m not sure about the effects of passive video media, but I’ve wondered whether some games might actually be beneficial for the attention-span problem – a lot of games now emphasise constant drip-feed rewards and encouragement but even easy adventure games and simulation/construction games (e.g. Minecraft, Civ) emphasise long-term planning, reward at the end of a goal, and independent goal creation. But then I’m finding it tough to think of games which are understandable enough for kids which are young enough to be watching In the Night Garden and which won’t get reduced to purely short-term rewards (that is, Minecraft ‘rewards’ you by letting you intermittently find materials, but for a mature player the real reward is in building a structure over time – how to stop a kid just compulsively seeking out the short-term reward because they’re not old enough to formulate a long-term plan?).

          • NathanH says:

            This attention span and concentration thing is probably the thing that worries me the most. I’ve definitely noticed over the years that I have become worse and worse and keeping my mind on the task at hand. I have no reason to think it must be because of video games but that’s my only major hobby besides chess. It’s starting to get to the point where my performance at work is starting to suffer.

            As I said I have no reason to think it’s because of gaming, but it’s something that concerns me far more than violence, attainment, fitness, or social skills.

          • Acorino says:

            >you rude cunt.

            Classy. I’m sure you’re a true paragon for your kids.
            Discussion’s over, you lost!

          • princec says:

            I play to lose. Besides, if you argue like that to a stranger in a pub, expect to be talked back like one, no? (Don’t know if these people are from the UK but that’s what’d happen here)

          • Zephro says:


            Anecdote != evidence.

          • princec says:

            Actually, anecdotes specifically are evidence. You need multiple instances; and then you need to draw correlations. This is what teachers are doing. What is confusing people is that correlations != cause or effect. They simply describe the strength of a relationship between one thing and another, not which way around that relationship goes, or even if that is the correct relationship at all and merely coincidental.

          • Unaco says:


            Incorrect. You do not take multiple anecdotes and consider them as evidence. That is called selection bias and it is a big, big no no in Science.

          • mpk says:


            Anecdotes are entirely subjective by definition. One person’s “increase in aggression” is another’s “leadership traits beginning to manifest”

          • Zephro says:

            There’s selection bias and there’s also no control variables or proper measurement/data gathering. So it’s a load of nonsense.

          • Tezcatlipoca says:

            The gist of this comes down to the parenting.

            I agree completely with Apples. My parents banned me from reading because I wouldn’t communicate with them etc. This may have had something to do with the fact they were verbally abusive and generally not very nice people and I had taught myself to block everything out once fully immersed in a book.
            At first I complied with what they asked out of respect but as I missed my books more I started to get angry and resentful. I was unable to concentrate in school because my means of relaxation and winding down time had been taken away.
            My stepsister as a teen shoplifted and bought drugs while I bought mountains of secondhand books from the library. She played video games less than I did but was allowed to get away with more.
            So again, I’ll say it’s down to parenting, not objects.

            Also, it might be worth noting that I’d actually get angrier if I died on an easy game like Mario than if I just played GTA. My favourite film as an 8 year old was Terminator 2 and I was never violent towards people. I barely spoke to my peers because frankly I thought most if them were unintelligent, violent lunatics.

          • jimbobjunior says:


            The other issue with your account of your daughter is the confirmation bias it can hide — this isn’t your fault but it makes the account less appealing when you are trying to make a point with it:

            a) You hypothesised that video entertainment was the cause of your daughter’s behaviour issues.
            b) You made a change (banned video games/TV).
            c) You perceived a positive change in her behaviour.

            It’s the last bit that is hard to convince people of unless you have strong evidence borne from a process that actively works to eliminate confirmation bias. This has no bearing on the validity of your hypothesis or results, both could be true, but you can’t reasonably convince people of that fact with the anecdote you describe.

            Even then it would be hard to argue the case. Could it not be the activities she is doing in place of games/TV that is providing a positive effect? etc.

            Science is hard, and personal accounts have little place in real discussions about these kinds of issues.

          • JB says:

            >you rude cunt.

            Pot, kettle, black.

          • iZen says:

            I was hooked on video games since I can think. Pure escapism from a world filled with bad emotions due to the usual causes. You don’t play video games and get angry. You get angry first, and then play games to somehow let that anger out, because you know you can’t do it in reality, because it would even get you more problems/fears etc. instead of solving anything. But the amount of anger you can let out by shooting virtual men in the face is only so much. Some people can’t stand it anymore, their anger-meter becomes full and they run amok (whats the english expression again?). Video games are the reason it didn’t happen earlier.
            Also, too young kids shouldnt be playing or only be playing absolutely simple stuff. Of course they have a low attention span after gaming. A game even like Minecraft requires so much concentration and attention, it’s way more (mentally) exhausting than a usual grownups workday. Thats also where aggression comes from, if you disturb your child while playing or similar. You wouldn’t like to be disturbed to bring out the trash whilst being 100% concentrated at work. After that, you are tired like shit of course. Since it however is very fun, we often fail to acknowledge that fact.
            Teachers must find a way to intelligently design their classes, so that pupils have fun in school.
            Everything is just boring as shit and dumbed down combined with high expectation and pressure. Pupils fail to understand the curve sketching still after 10 years of maths. Its only a bunch of rules. However, they manage to understand complicated game mechanics from MMO’s, RTS (everything really) in about a week. How does that correlate? I’ll tell you:
            School is boring as fuck, and teachers are lazy fucks.

          • Ritashi says:

            Let me tell you exactly what is terrible about your little example there. You lack any evidence to actually link any sort of cause and effect, and you created a lose/lose situation for your daughter. If she improves her behavior trying to get out of her punishment, then you assume that video entertainment was the cause of the original bad behavior. If she does not improve her behavior, you continue punishing her until she does, at which point you draw the same conclusion. No possible result of your little experiment could have convinced you that video entertainment had no negative effect, or even possibly a positive effect, on your child. You designed an experiment which could only yield one result, no matter what data came out.

            Anecdotal evidence: I once did poorly in school (purely an issue of me not doing homework/projects). I was banned from video games for a while. I wanted them back, so I straightened up and started doing well. Which my parents took as evidence that video games were the cause of my problems. As soon as I realized that my parents had no intentions of ever returning them to me, I stopped doing my work again, spending all my time reading. A few years later when video games were returned to me, my grades actually improved. What does this anecdote prove? Nothing, really. But it shows there was no correlation between my grades and video games. There was really only a strong correlation between my grades and my attitude.

          • Mattressi says:

            Just thought I’d chime in and say that since I was very young, I’ve played video games of some form or another (often quite violent). I wasn’t aggressive towards my parents until sometime into my teens – I didn’t increase the amount that I played, I just went through puberty and even then the aggressiveness was only in words and not physical aggression. When I was really young, often I’d play a game for most hours of the day for a few days straight. I’d also read a book for most hours of the day for a few days straight. I’d also go outside and play, ride, walk, etc for most hours of the day for a few days straight. At some points I believe I played too much for my own good, but the only thing that suffered was me – I was tired from staying up late. But this also happened when I read a book really late, too. Anecdotally, I see no way in which video games affected me negatively. Furthermore, my friend had extremely strict, cold parents who never let him play games and only occasionally let him watch very passive children shows. He was aggressive towards them and constantly rebelled. It might have been nature, might have been nurture, likely was a bit of both.

            Perhaps the reason your child’s attention span is diminished when you let her play with an iPad for a short amount of time is because you’re forcing her to only spend a short amount of time on something? I would spend days on a game, a book, a personal project and had a great attention span (except at school assemblies – the bane of my childhood existence!). That could be an issue. But, certainly, blaming video games for the alleged increase in aggressiveness of children is ridiculous without doing a proper, scientific study. Maybe they do affect some kids, but I wasn’t one of them. Then again, I had great, loving parents and was never spoilt.

          • Tams80 says:

            That’s your responsibility as a parent. By having children, you get that responsibility whether you like it or not. Now you seem like a responsible parent and that’s great, but I’d take a guess that quite a few of us are worried that such claims as Sherratt’s will lead to actions detrimental to us and others rather than pushing for more parent responsibility. Let’s face it, while quite a few parents take their fair share of responsibility; quite a few don’t.

            My mum was strict with me over computer games when I was younger, but then started to slacken off and now as an adult I am free to make my own decisions and the responsibility for the consequences is my own. I do stay up al-night playing games, but I do same watching films and anime as well as reading (which is apparently not as bad ¬.¬). However, I have helped out some families where this responsibility is just thrown out the window.

        • JakobBloch says:

          … or that playing video games (possibly excessively) could be a symptom rather than a cause.

          It is the same trouble with many studies, anecdotal stories and fearmongering news articles failing to consider the possibility that violent video games might attract people who are already violent instead of turning otherwise peaceful people into violent people.

        • fatchap says:

          …physical fitness, sedentary solitary lives – these are all descriptions of children who are already hooked to games.

          So kids who play games exhibit physical fitness? Ban them now or they will running around or something.

    • Phantoon says:

      What you are saying, and what you think they are saying, are the same thing. What they are actually saying is not even slightly close, and from this I’d expect you generally think the best of people, or at least that humans are rational beasts.

    • cliffski says:

      Just here to 100% agree with cas. People copy behavior they see, and it’s not just kids. Do you REALLY think that you do not copy the behavior you see? or make associations in your brain due to the imagery you view? Because if so, well done you are the first human being alive to not have neural connections to your amygdala, be immune to advertising and incapable of learning…

      The flipside of all that, is that I see far more disturbing imagery in movies and TV than I do in games. There are a whol bunch of hit movies that I will never watch, and some I’ve regretted watching because they are frankly sickening. The acceptable gore and explicit yuckiness factor in movies and TV has skyrocketed since I was a kid.
      And actually, the last content I was exposed to that made me go “jesus christ…” was in a book about WW2, so it just goes to show, there is potentially shocking content everywhere.

      The correct response to criticism of violent games has to start with the acceptance that yes, a lot of games are too violent for kids, and they absolutely should not be playing them. That should always be followed up with the fact that the majority of people playign games aren’t actually kids any more.

      • Jim Rossignol says:

        “People copy behavior they see, and it’s not just kids.”

        People – and kids are people – can also tell the difference between behaviour in the real world, and behaviour in fiction. THAT is the crucial thing to remember. People who explicitly copy actions that they learn about from fiction – now as in ancient Greek times – have behavioural difficulties.

        You cannot say that people copy the behaviour they see in games and movies, or everyone would be killing or dead. Instead, the reverse is true. Cliff, you like evidence based stuff, so how about this: link to hsrgroup.org

        Approximately 30% of males died violently in hunter-gatherer societies. Approximately 1% of males died violently in the 20th century, and that’s with two world wars and all that “terrorism”. Trends for violent deaths so far in the 21st century? Falling too. In fact it’s fallen 30% in the past decade.

        Any talk about about “violence” being inspired by culture is a distraction from real issues like poverty and increased social injustice.

        • copernicus_phoenix says:

          Well said. I’d expect the ATL to be more concerned about cuts to the education budget and the difficulty of attracting maths and science teachers to the profession than the non-existant wave of violence running through schools.

        • princec says:

          Conditioning responses enable us to blur the distinction between reality and fantasy; games and television provide incredibly evocative conditioning. The effect is uncannily subtle on adults but remarkably unsubtle on kids. Kids literally copy exactly what they see whether it’s real or not. You should have some! Simply say “Bugger!” when something goes wrong and before you know it your daughter says “Bugger!” every time something goes wrong. It’s that fast.

          Right now we are living in an incredibly benign, safe period in British history, where we are less likely to die a violent death than at any other time in human history, following the second World War. Generationally we have just experienced the last days of the Love and Peace generation finally succumbing to old age and it’s these old timers and their offspring with their largely pacifistic ideals who are in the teaching professions. Any slight increase in aggressive behaviour against this backdrop of safety is going to stand out. Who can blame them for noticing, and more to the point why do people feel like defending the causes? The key issue is probably that a bunch of people are worried someone’s going to pass some legislation to ban certain sorts of video game. I wouldn’t worry about that happening provided everyone keeps a level head, understands and acknowledges the effects aren’t just fantasy made up by scared old teachers, and realises you’ve got to be responsible around kids and not expose them to violence-as-fantasy in any form.

          • spedcor666 says:

            ‘I wouldn’t worry about that happening provided everyone keeps a level head’

            ‘Obesity, social exclusion, loneliness, physical fitness, sedentary solitary lives – these are all descriptions of children who are already hooked to games … ‘


          • John Walker says:

            “Kids literally copy exactly what they see whether it’s real or not.”

            Are you sure you have a child, and not a mirror?

          • Jim Rossignol says:

            “Conditioning responses enable us to blur the distinction between reality and fantasy; games and television provide incredibly evocative conditioning. The effect is uncannily subtle on adults but remarkably unsubtle on kids. Kids literally copy exactly what they see whether it’s real or not.”

            No, they don’t. Children do not watch a violent TV show and then murder someone. At *worst* they get rough-house in play, and learn from the responses, which is all I can imagine the teacher quoted here is actually able to identify. If the connection people were making between violence and games were real, it would be epidemic. It is not.

            I am not arguing against being responsible in controlling content for kids, but not because I think it causes them to become violent – there’s simply no evidence for it – but simply because some stuff is for adults.

          • copernicus_phoenix says:

            Perhaps you should exercise self control, and not swear around your children? Or, when they act inappropriately, correct them? Parenting is not a passive activity, like watching the TV, it’s an interactive activity, like playing a game.

            That analogy might have got away from me a bit.

          • Phantoon says:

            Is anyone else thinking this guy stormed in here to have the other commenters justify his doubts about his parenting?

            I was thinking it was just someone with very strong opinions, but strong opinions don’t excuse you from calling other people cunts. That’s not gentlemanly at all, in any context. And if your lady enjoys that sort of filthy speech, then that’s to be kept in the bedroom, for our sanity and your privacy.

            Entitlement is quite the thing. Still doesn’t mean your parenting is okay, but I can’t judge on that. How you hold yourself on the internet while demanding people pat you on the back for your parenting I can judge, because you’re here and it’s what you did and this is getting circular.

            Time for tea!

          • BluElement says:

            I can’t comment on your parenting because I don’t know you. Judging from your posts here, though, it seems that you are incredibly immature. Sure, complete strangers probably shouldn’t have condemned your parenting, but you probably shouldn’t use such vulgar language and insults to complete strangers either. You seem to believe “an eye for an eye” is the correct path to take, judging by your comments and threats that you’re going to fight violence with violence and immaturity with immaturity.

            For all you know, you could be talking to a 12-year-old on the internet. Do you think your behaviour is appropriate to complete strangers? Do you think your behaviour is appropriate at all for that matter?

          • fatchap says:

            I agree, I played a lot of Tetrix in the 90s. I am bricklayer but I insist on my work mates cementing the bricks into one of 6 different configurations before I will build a wall.


        • Gnoupi says:

          While I agree that adult people can separate reality from fiction, this is not fully true for kids.
          You can’t really say “kids are people”, for this argument.

          There is a reason why there are systems in place to protect kids from being exposed to violence, and other shocking things.

          • KikiJiki says:

            Yes, there are systems in place to protect children from inappropriate content.

            They’re called parents.

          • Zephro says:

            I was always aware Sonic the Hedgehog wasn’t real…

          • RobF says:


            Sonic The Hedgehog isn’t real?

          • Reapy says:


          • s0nicfreak says:

            “There is a reason why there are systems in place to protect kids from being exposed to violence, and other shocking things.”

            There’s two reasons; because we have become so well-off that we have nothing better to do, and because people no longer want to parent and instead want laws and the government (which schools are a part of) to do it for them. In places where people are starving to death, there are no such systems. In times where people had to hunt with knives and their hands, there were no such systems; in fact, kids had to watch the violence so they could learn how to survive.

            Kids are people. True, at a young age they can not tell the difference between fantasy and reality (though that age is before school age). Part of parenting is teaching them the difference. Part of raising a mentally healthy person is allowing them to engage in fantasies.

        • stevenaap says:

          I disagree,

          your argument that children can differentiate reality from fantasy is flawed, because as a matter of fact NOT all people can make this distinction.. most notably children, see link to google.nl

          for example.

          Secondly I don’t see how the link you provided is related to the problems at hand, violence deaths have decreased, yes, but how would this relate to behavorial changes in children? Surely no-one is suggesting they’re all turning into killers overnight.

          While I agree with most of the article, I feel you are guilty of much the same faults raised therein namely obfuscating causation and correlation and straw men.
          Because we don’t know what effect playing violent games has on children, perhaps parents SHOULD be made more aware of possible pitfalls and be urged to more closely regulate their offsprings’ gaming habits.

          • Havok9120 says:

            Sure, maybe they should be. Heck, they CERTAINLY should be. The point of the article is that that isn’t what the ATL is doing here. They’re grinding an ax with nothing more than anecdotal evidence while having the gall to call those anecdotes definitive.

            Almost everyone here is for studying the problem and informing people of the results. That’s not what this is. THIS is ignoring all past studies and introducing its own with the PREMISE that games are causing all these problems.

            As for your second paragraph, the fact that deaths and violence in general has continued to decrease (rather dramatically) over the last century and especially last 30-40 years, would indicate that not only are children not being turned into killers overnight, they aren’t turning into killers at all on a societal level.

        • cliffski says:

          but it is hard to accept that suggested and demonstrated activity that we are exposed to does not influence our actions, albeit in a suibconcious way, otherwise advertising would simply *not work*.
          95% of advertising you see is emotional, not informative. A lot of the time it is associative advertising, which is to say merely the positioning of your product with something seen as positive or rewarding be that a celebrity(fame) or sex, popularity or happiness.
          This works (in ads) because it is exactly how we learn. We see boats on the sea, and we work out boats float. We see the color yellow, and bananas together etc… and it’s how robot engineers are teaching robots to learn.
          What I’m saying is that if you have a medium (book/movie/tv/game) where the hero is popular and succesful and happy and unharmed, and he manages to get what he wants by constant violence, that *does* have an associative impact on your brain, it simply cannot fail to.

          • The Sombrero Kid says:

            Current research into the psychology of advertising shows it has absolutely zero persuasive effect when you are aware of it and negligible effect when you aren’t, advertising is only useful as a means to inform.

          • Johnny Lizard says:

            Extraordinary citation needed.

          • s0nicfreak says:

            “What I’m saying is that if you have a medium (book/movie/tv/game) where the hero is popular and succesful and happy and unharmed, and he manages to get what he wants by constant violence”

            Wait, what game is this? All the violent games I’ve seen have a reason behind them, and the hero is pushed into the position of using violence. The hero may be a soldier, and his country is under attack. His friends or family may have been killed or kidnapped, and he’s next on the list or wants to get them back. Maybe the world is being attacked by dragons or people that want to turn everything into robots and factories. Maybe the hero wakes up in a random place, unsure what is going on, but everything around him seems to attack him. Someone is shooting at the hero, so he shoots back. But I have never seen a game where the hero is happy and unharmed and then just randomly decides to start using constant violence. If this certainly affects our brains, then I think it sends the message to not harm others, to not bully, to not kill, because even the gentlest of people will attack when cornered and pushed to the limits.

        • Gormongous says:

          A short informal survey conducted between me and my old codger peers proves that things are not as good as they used to be.

      • Phantoon says:

        WELL, CLIFFSKI, your game made an impression on my impressionable mind that I must shooter other people in space!

        Because I did not like your intergalactic version of “watch the AI play against itself” almost like it were some sort of voyuerism upon computer gaming masturbation! Indeed, you are a rogue and a knave, furthermore, I would even brand you a charlatan!

        I am insulting the person and not talking about their argument and also using exclamation points to denote I am probably yelling! This makes me seem relevant compared to the person in question that called other people “cunts” because humans will always accept the thing less worse than the worst.

        Sidenote: Seriously, kids used to get beaten for doing wrong. We’re getting better. Stop screaming.

    • jon_hill987 says:

      I dunno, what if the kids are hurling birds a pigs hiding under a wooden “house of cards”? As pigs and birds are easier to get hold of than guns acting out Battlefield 3 sounds less dangerous.

    • aepervius says:

      They are also human with bias, and as we know, as people age, they tend to go for the nostalgic “yesterday it was better”. Another hypotheses is that as they aged, in average their threshold of supporting young agitated kid got lower, and thus their perception of kid getting violent is higher, when in reality it was just aging doing the whole effect. A scientific study would be needed to really check if it is aging bias or a real phenomenon, and up to now there is no conclusive results from those published. So. Yeah. I take with a huge grain of salt anecdotal evidence, even if that anecdotal evidence is from a lot of teacher.

    • s0nicfreak says:

      “These people are in a position to spot changing patterns of behavior”

      Unless these teachers were teaching before video games came around – so, for 40 years or so – this is invalid. Video games aren’t new. What is new is kids having longer school hours, more “sit down at a desk” time during those school hours, sit down hours at younger ages, more homework, and less time to play and run around outside aside from recess. Basically, kids are now fitting several daily hours of play into very short recesses. These “violent” behaviors existed in play long before video games existed. Now that play is more concentrated, it’s no surprise that these behaviors are more concentrated,

      Although I haven’t been teaching for long enough to claim I can spot changing patterns of behavior in society, I have seen that letting kids run around outside and play freely for an hour or two daily does a world of difference in reducing (and even eliminating) the behaviors mentioned and making the kids willing to (and even ASK to) sit down at a desk and “learn.” If there are multiple consecutive days they don’t go outside the behaviors flare up and getting them to sit still is more difficult.

      Yes kids will imitate what they see; parents then must tell them to not again imitate inappropriate behaviors or channel it appropriately. If you simply hide the behaviors from them, you can never teach them not to imitate those (or do them on their own, because kids will be violent without ever seeing the behavior; a toddler may bite someone that tries to take their toy without ever having seen someone else do that, for example) , and when they do eventually see them – because they will eventually see them (if nothing else, they will see kids thumping other kids on the playground) – they won’t know they’re not suppose to imitate them. Also, this can be used to get children to imitate desirable behaviors. If kids are obese, have the adults around them eat healthy and exercise. Taking away their video games (rather than modeling doing a fun hobby a bit of the day but also exercising a bit of the day) will just mean they’re obese, bored and angry, which means they will act up more. Also, the moment they’re out of your control, they will just play video games excessively and eat excessive unhealthy food.

  7. AbsoluteDestiny says:

    Jesse Schell did a good talk on this at Games for Change last year:

  8. seanblah12 says:

    all this makes me want to punch alan titchmarsh in the face

    • Prime says:

      I’m actually with you on that one. Let me hold him for you.

    • Jonith says:

      Everything makes me want to punch Alan Titchmarsh in the face.

      • Llewyn says:

        Now, now. There is absolutely no justification for anyone wishing to punch Alan Titchmarsh in the face, at least so long as there is a Monty Don in this world.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      I’m punching Alan Titchmarsh in the face right now.

    • Koozer says:

      I punched Alan Titchmarsh in the face last week.

    • Surlywombat says:

      I used to be a gardener like you, but then I took a punch in the face.

    • DanPryce says:

      I was the FIRST person to punch Alan Titchmarsh in the face.

    • Skabooga says:

      I didn’t know who this Alan Titchmarsh was, but a quick reading of his Wikipedia entry makes him seem like an affable guy. Just some gardener public personality. Why the enmity?

      . . .

      No, not in the face!

      EDIT: Ah, add ‘games’ in addition to his name in the search parameters of Google and things become a bit clearer.

  9. AbyssUK says:

    Well do you expect the teachers to openly come out and blame the parents ? I wish they would grow a set of balls and do so already…..

    Seriously, parents of RPS do you let your 4-5 yr old have there own tv and console in the bedroom ? If you do you are an idiot and should punch yourself in the face…

    • Phantoon says:

      I have a five year old console, does that count?

      • Apples says:

        I have a 16-year-old console. It’s being really rebellious, staying up late and not studying for its exams. I blame its video game addiction.

      • N'Al says:

        Yes. Get punchin’.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      How to be a good parent:
      1. don’t put a TV in there bed room
      2. ?????
      3. Profit.

  10. Prime says:

    This is more likely to be the sheer number of dangerous food additives in our diets these days. What also kicked off in the UK in the 80’s; the rise of Junk Food popularised by MacDonalds? Yes, because high-salt, high-sugar, high-fat diets have NOTHING to do with aggressive behaviour in children, do they? It must, therefore, be games!

    • AmateurScience says:

      THIS is why we need some actual science being done upon stuff. Admittedly I have a vested interest in more science (papa needs new shoes!). But the fact is, if there has been a change in behaviour, then there’s plenty of other things that have changed significantly over the last 30-odd years: diet, social norms, other media (including the internet), what’s considered to be pre-watershed content these days.

      In other words if there has been a change in children’s behaviour it’s probably a combination of many many things. AND we need some science doing.

      • Zephro says:

        There is science being done, most of it is just appalling or inconclusive though.

        The examples given of social norms, schooling changes, possible diet changes, possible entertainment changes, changes in informal support structures (grans/aunts babysitting etc) have all changed by such a large extent over 30 years that no study can easily or satisfactorily single out particular factors

        It’s the exact point about anecdotes and. evidence not being the same.

  11. deejayem says:

    You’d think teachers’ unions would have more pressing concerns right now.

    • Phantoon says:

      No, see, this is a brilliant career move. When education is dissolved, this person can make the transition to paranoid talking head on some news show with no effort!

      • MikeBiggs says:

        When education is dissolved? You Sir have a bleaker outlook that most. I think education as a whole will probably survive!

        Though if ever education is dissolved entirely I’m visiting Titchmarch with an axe and a jar full of nutrient rich head preservative. Then his wish can truly come true!

        • NathanH says:

          Education already has been dissolved. They already just give the kids the answers to the exams. It’s just not all gone public yet.

    • Zorganist says:

      They do, and there are plenty of much more sensible talks about recruitment, acadamies, pensions and whatnot scheduled as well. It’s just that those sorts of things are always going to be at the ATL conference, talking/shouting at games is more unusual, and hence gets more media attention for the conference as a whole.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      The reality is they’re creating a problem that they have the answer to, also gamification is really big in teaching just now and a lot of the teachers in control are old and scared of being found out they don’t know how to email i’ve seen the maniacal resistance they have for all technology first hand.

  12. Robslap says:

    “I would suggest that if children are taking part in this fairly solitary existence this will impact on their speaking and listening skills which, in turn, will impact on their ability to concentrate and learn in school.”

    My nine year old currently reads at a 14 year old level and among her non pc gaming friends has unparalleled literacy thanks almost entirely to playing, amongst other text heavy games, World of Warcraft since the age of 5.

    AND she almost never stabs or garrotes her class mates!

    Where can I sign her up as counter evidence to this bullshit?!

    • RaveTurned says:

      “What, never?”
      “No, never!”
      “What, never?”
      “Well, hardly ever!”

    • Gasmask Hero says:

      You are aware that World of Warcraft has a pegi rating of 12, are you not?

      • Jonith says:

        I don’t know if its the same as it used to be, but for gaming it was that if an adult has bought the game, it is his choice if he thinks that it is suitable for somebody under his care.

        For example, Portal 2 is a 12, however if a 30 year old father bought it and deemed it suitable, he could lets his 7 year old son play it etc.

        Edit: On a note similar to this, Parents should understand the age ratings more so they don’t deem something suitable which isn’t. And if in doubt they should play through it themselves or not buy it. (I think I take it for granted that my father was a gamer, and incidentally a teacher as well)

      • Robslap says:

        Oh yea, I’m not fussed about the violence part, how else am I going to breed an army of tiny assasins?
        Was focussing more on the whole “impact on speaking and listening skills” part I quoted… selective evidencing or rather fighting fire with fire.

        *edit* common sense > pegi

        • YourMessageHere says:

          While I think you’re probably totally right that her reading has been improved massively, reading is not speaking or listening. Unless she’s also on ventrillo all the time, co-ordinating raids and going “More DOTs” or “LEEEEROY JEEEENNKIIIINS!” or whatever the cool kids are saying now.

  13. jokigenki says:

    My daughter (5) is addicted to video games and wants to be a game designer. But then again, she was addicted to princesses a couple of months ago and now they don’t get a mention. My son (4) doesn’t isn’t really into games, but he does like punching things. I’m taking this as a data set to suggest that gaming leads to a lack of interest in princesses, and not playing video games makes you more violent.

    • Phantoon says:

      It may even be that some people are just aggressive and an outlet of some kind keeps them from murdering people.

    • John Walker says:

      This is a SCANDAL.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Make this sick filth mandatory NOW!

    • Gnoupi says:

      “Playing leads to a lack of interest in princesses”.

      Honestly, we’ve known that since Super Mario Bros. All this time and efforts to end up with a “oh, thanks, game over”, it’s enough to mark a kid.

      • NathanH says:

        Mario is a warning about the dangers of wasting your efforts on fickle women. The whole “princess is in another castle” thing is typically manipulative: she isn’t really interested, but likes the idea of you striving ever harder to impress her.

        • Gnoupi says:

          And Braid is what happens when kids are exposed too much to that kind of image.

    • mpk says:

      Reminds me of my son and I playing Mario Kart Wii, and him screaming “I want to be a Princess!” when I dared to choose Koopa.

  14. Groove says:

    There are not enough faces or palms in the world. Like a child that plays videogames (so I’ve heard), I am so tired of this.

    Just as she has no evidence for blaming every aspect of childhood on video games, I have no evidence for believing she has never played a video game or watched one being played, or that the very idea of one terrifies her in ways she can hardly vocalise, but I’ll believe it anyway.

    And the headline of this article has to be:


    • NathanH says:

      When I was doing my A-levels, Critical Thinking was one of the courses you did if you were a bit thick and needed easy UCAS points.

      • Malk_Content says:

        Or was lazy like me and realized the wine tasting course didn’t feature wine tasting.

        • NathanH says:

          A wine tasting course? You wouldn’t see that on Teesside. Maybe a Stella tasting course, with practical assignments of beating up your girlfriend.

  15. Asyne says:

    The clearest evidence I’ve seen thrown one way or another is that violent games desensitize (both children and adults) to violence. But that doesn’t directly lead to a preference for violence over other means of conflict resolution; a person desensitized to violence would be the first one in an accident to start looking for help, rather than being shocked by blood or death.

    The only cases I know of where violent games always caused violence was in people of questionable psychological state, who were unable/unwilling to see actions in a game as something separate from reality.

    And at the core, those violent games are rated inappropriate for the children who would be most susceptible to suggestion-through-play, so the responsibility lies not with those who made the games, but with the adults who permitted the children to play those games.

    • Tim Ward says:

      Now, does it desensitize them to violence, or just the idea of violence? I have a hard time believing that any amount of Call of Duty would actually prepare someone for the physical reality of seeing someone get shot or stabbed, for example.

      • mpk says:

        Now there’s a basis for an empirical test. Someone call Alan Titmarsh, we’ll have a gamer and a non-gamer each see a family member stabbed to death, live on the show, and we’ll see who is least shocked.

      • Gink says:

        Well, I`ve been shooting and stabbing people for almost 20 years now (on my PC) and I still turn my head away when I see graphical violent newsreports on the TV. So..

      • Petethegoat says:

        I have played a lot of games since I was young, I remember playing Sven Coop with my older brother when I was six or so, and Operation Flashpoint, Hidden & Dangerous, etc with my dad as well.

        But I can say without a doubt that it was Six Feet Under which desensitised me to graphic ‘violence’. And also to gay sex, funnily enough. Ban this sick filth?

  16. Tiguh says:

    As a teacher and an avid player of games (and reader of this site) I should say that children’s behaviour has barely changed since the twenty years ago that I was at school.

    However, they all, including the little ones (year sevens so about 12 years old) talk an awful lot about CoD etc. I find my interest in games to be a convenient talking point with them so talk about them a lot in school and I have asked them whether their parents mind them playing 18-rated games. They just point out that no, they don’t, and anyway I reckon if they did then the pester power would be unbearable anyway because all their classmates are playing them.

    If these games are really meant for adults (and we want them to include content we don’t want kids to see) then the only way to stop them being played by children is for parents to start taking the age restrictions seriously, the way they /presumably/ do with films.

    I think personally that the only reason they don’t is a strange hangover of the idea that “video games are for kids”.

    Unfortunately until that happens you can point out that the age ratings exist for a reason and these games are for you/us, not them, but the kids don’t understand that, and nor do the parents who buy them for them.

    • Phantoon says:

      I played Doom when I was rather young, and the only negative effect I can think of is I really, really hate space aliens.

      • Malibu Stacey says:

        You horrible Xenophobe.

        Also DOOM’s enemies were demons from hell not space aliens.

        • El_Emmental says:

          well, they were demons from hell, but they first appeared on the two moons of Mars (Phobos and Deimos)

          so “space alien”, or “extraterrestrial foreign creatures” could be accurate too

      • Riotpoll says:

        I played Wolfenstein 3D and have a deep hatred of Hitler and his minions. I also dislike the dirty coal power stations from sim city.

    • RobF says:

      “If these games are really meant for adults (and we want them to include content we don’t want kids to see) then the only way to stop them being played by children is for parents to start taking the age restrictions seriously, the way they /presumably/ do with films. ”

      I used to do fillum rental in the past and we’d managed to reach a fairly nice level of education on content. (This was rather a while back now) It does and can work and the simple and blunt age rating system worked for both sides of the counter. You won’t and you pretty much can’t stop some people buying/renting these things for their kids but at that point, you’re invariably in the realms of people who don’t give a fuck anyway and so dealing with films wouldn’t fix the problem. That’s a social issue and no amount of fines or legislation can solve that, that needs money, help and support.

      So yeah, I don’t think you’re wrong there. It can work better than it does now but it needs education and a clear system. No “comic mischief” for one thing.

  17. Phantoon says:

    I’m making a million posts today or something, but exhaustion leads to being scatterbrained.

    Anyone else notice how video games get lambasted by the media more than gun owners (in the states, no idea about you limeys)? Is this because gaming isn’t as good at lobbying as the NRA?

    • AmateurScience says:


      As for the Limey perspective. In general* the people that legally own guns over here tend to be tweed-wearing farmer types rather than card-holding gun ‘enthusiasts’. The real gun-nuts are certainly less well organised in any case compared to the NRA (thank fuck!).

      *I heart sweeping generalisations

    • Mattressi says:

      From what I’ve seen, gun owners cop it all the time in the states if they do something wrong. Unless you’re saying the media should attack gun owners for doing nothing wrong and simply exercising their right to keep and bear arms? If so, there’s every other country in the world that you could move to, if guns are that big of a deal to you. (Seriously, I strongly believe that people should stop with this patriotic nonsense towards countries they were born in and simply move to a country that best suits them. Especially if your issue with a country is one of its core foundations). Perhaps I’ve read you wrong though, in which case ignore this. It’s difficult being an enthusiast of more than one hobby and hearing people from both hobbies blaming the other for the world’s troubles, when neither are the cause – so I’m jumpy at comments along those lines.

    • Havok9120 says:

      Depends what media you’re reading. The NRA certainly comes up less often, but when it does its usually not pretty. I’m looking at you cable media networks.

      That said, neither things comes up in Congress that much. Video games do more often because the NRA is a much more politically active organization than any group of organized gamers.

      If gamers ever become villified to the same extent that gun owners were in the late 80s and 90s, you might see a lot more political organization. Its a defense mechanism as much as anything.

  18. Chap O says:

    John – have you contacted ATL about this? As a current member of ATL this stance worries me, and I would certainly like to draw their attention to this article if they are not yet aware of it.

  19. Dude (Darloc) says:

    Is the problem the games themselves or the Parent, I firmly believe that the way parents deal with their offspring video game buying urges are to blame. How can a 10-12 year old afford a £30+ game if their parent do not buy it for them?
    I recently saw during the February half term two kids running around HMV (they must have been 10-12 year), pick up Saint Row 3, a game in which you can beat someone up with a giant dildo, a game with a big 18 on the jacket and run to their parents who proceeded to buy the game without second thought.
    To me this is like a 10 years old running to his parent with a “natural born killer” or “scarface” and their parent buying it.
    You can’t blame the media, you need to educate the parents, video game are not just kid stuff any more, and kids are not the target of those game anymore, grown up play to!

    • Tiguh says:

      Yeah, @Darioc, that’s what I was trying to say but clearer! It really isn’t the kids’ fault. If they perceive something as illicit or naughty or only for adult consumption then they’ll (understandably) break their own legs to get hold of it. I just don’t understand why these ratings aren’t enforced and these arguments simply won’t go away until they are.

  20. KikiJiki says:

    And this comes less than a week after a child murdered his mother after becoming obsessed with a soap opera storyline.

  21. RedViv says:

    Darn youngsters and their games.
    Darn youngsters and their rock music.
    Darn youngsters and their books.
    Darn youngsters and their Socrates.

  22. Ginga121 says:

    I work in a school and I can honestly say I haven’t read such a load of horse shit in a long long time. Apart from maybe at work :P

    Yes they stay up late playing games and are consequently tired, but we all do that. Some of these teachers are complete fuckin morons and don’t understand what they are talking about. It’s not wonder the kids are so messed up if their teacher is about as clued up as my uncles Donkey.

    • AmateurScience says:

      There was always something to stay up for, even when I was growing up (in the 80s – represent!).

      All sorts: books, comics, er…videogames. I nearly suffocated myself on a number of occasions surreptitiously playing Super Mario Land under the covers.

  23. Milky1985 says:

    Couldn’t it also be argued that gaming is a SYMPTOM of isolation and lonelyness tho?

    Because someone feels alone and isolated they engross themselves in a fantasy world where they are not alone, effectivly self medicating themselves.

    Or go online and be yelled at, at least then theres less isolation.

    • Riotpoll says:

      I don’t think you can generalise being on your own as loneliness, there are such a thing as introverts! I’m more than happy to spend a whole day with nobody talking at me or making annoying noises or filling the blessed silence with their constant chatter, whether it be reading a book, playing games or as I did when younger, building shizzle with lego technic.

      In a way gaming is no different from any other pastime, just another thing to do to fill the years of deathly tedium that make up the life of a human being…

  24. DeanLearner says:

    I would be interested to hear how many of these murderous loner fatties live in houses with carpets? I think carpets have something to do with it.

    there’s no real evidence for it — but it is scientific fact.

    I wasn’t brought up in a house with a carpet and I’ve only slowly crushed someone’s head in a vice ONCE and that was when I was staying at a hotel (that had a carpet).

    • YourMessageHere says:

      I hear carpet makers have more in common genetically with crabs than they do with you and me.

  25. Apples says:

    Did anyone else read the Metro today and see someone talking about how “it’s time something was done” about violence on television? I couldn’t tell whether it was sarcastic or not, but most reasonable adults take the view that we shouldn’t restrict what’s on television because children/the mentally ill might see it – because the main consumers of TV are responsible adults who are able, and indeed should, be shown and think about topical issues. It would be nice if people thought the same about games, wouldn’t it?

    • YourMessageHere says:

      I saw that; I think it’s serious. I think it’s a heartfelt plea from someone who just can’t understand the world they are now in – there’s plenty of them out there. And sadly I think the writer has no idea what should be done.

      I also think the whole Corrie copycat murder thing is, in a purely legal sense (i.e. leaving aside the horrible crime itself and focusing on the wider significance), very good for the ethical position of games. If Coronation Street, a staple of family entertainment for over 50 years, is able to be more directly linked to a violent crime than any game, that says better than anything that it’s the people, not the stimuli, that are the problem.

      Why is Keith Vaz not screaming in parliament for Corrie to be banned?

  26. DeanLearner says:


    “Obesity, social exclusion, loneliness, physical fitness, sedentary solitary lives – these are all descriptions of children who are already hooked to games … Sadly there is a notable correlation between the children who admit to playing games and those who come to school really tired.”

    this is quite possible the most bullshit missing of a point I’ve ever read. I present to you, an analogy…

    “Paralysed, this is a description of children who are already hooked on wheelchairs. Sadly there is a notable correlation between the children who admit to using wheelchairs and those who come to school paralysed.”

  27. Zephro says:

    The description in the BBC one of children going through windows in slow motion pretending to crash and stab each other in the backs…. sounds exactly like what we did in the playground 20 years ago when the most graphic game we’d ever played was Sonic the Hedgehog.

    We were normally pretending to be the Hero Turtles, Transformers or the A-team or something. We normally added blood ourselves as it was funnier than the A-team which even 7 year olds can tell is dumb.

    • Llewyn says:

      For that matter, it sounds very much like the sort of games we used to play in the playground when I was at primary school 30-odd years ago. My entire videogaming experience at that point consisted of our Binatone TV Master.

    • AmateurScience says:

      This. We used to beat the crapola out of each other pretending to be WWF wrestlers or Superman or Thundercats (I was always Schnarf: fuckers).

      • JB says:

        @AmateurScience – Haha, you were Schnarf.

        Also, re: the Turtles (just below!). Donatello was (and is) the coolest.

    • NathanH says:

      Haha, our Turtle role-play used to fall at the first hurdle when it devolved into violence about who was going to be the purple one.

      • Klaus says:

        I was (happily) purple or blue, because I couldn’t stand the other two idiot ones.

        • NathanH says:

          The orange one was such a chav. Nobody wanted to be the orange one. The coolest kid got to be the blue one, and the rest of us had to fight over being purple.

  28. Aemony says:

    I want a ban on sports with physical interaction. That shit’s dangerous, yo!

  29. Jonith says:

    And now over to the daily mail for a counter opinion.


    • NathanH says:

      “In Daily Mail: The FPS, you play the role of an illegal Romanian immigrant, whose task is to lower house prices by firing breast cancer at EU officials…”

      • DeanLearner says:

        Achievement Unlocked : 10G : Drive!
        Drive a car without insurance

        Achievement Unlocked : 50G : Money, Money, Money!
        Collect welfare on 10 consecutive weeks!

  30. cHeal says:

    I think it’s fair to say, that the parents are to blame. Most people aren’t good parents, all parents hate being told how to parent so nothing will change, except the number of bad parents, and the badness of their parenting will increase over time, because nobody is allowed ever tell them they are bad parents. Almost like you can’t tell a car driver they are bad at driving. You can’t criticize somebody elses driving to their face because every single car driver out there thinks they are the best car driver. It doesn’t matter that they break the law regularly while driving, because those laws are only for people who aren’t good car drivers.

    I know parents who watch those nanny shows, and can’t believe how bad the parents are, but also they are bad parents, and make many of the exact same basic errors you see in those shows. In fact the parents in those shows tend to be making the exact SAME errors, just with different situation and changed language.

    One weird parenting trait which appears to have arisen in the past 40 years is that people will raise their children completely opposite to how they were raised. As if being a spoilt brat when they were 10 years old, they have continued to be a spoilt brat, and never forgiving their parents for not raising them the way they wanted, they have taken it upon themselves to ruin the life of their child by being their friend, rather than their parent. Slow hand clap for those guys.

    In the words of Eric Cartman, “the rack disciprine”

    Has your child learnt to read by playing WoW? You are a bad parent.

    Sorry, but bad parenting is one of my automatic rant generators.

    • princec says:

      You are bang on the money I think.

    • Apples says:

      “Has your child learnt to read by playing WoW? You are a bad parent.” Wha? Why? WoW isn’t something a kid should be playing 12 hours a day unsupervised, but at a young age sitting with your mum/dad and playing through the starting areas and learning to read some essential words isn’t exactly a singularity of bad parenting. Bit of an exaggeration/generalisation to just say that, surely? (Or is playing a game with your kid ‘being their friend’)

      • NathanH says:

        I’d imagine the main pitfall of WoW is having to deal with people online. The game itself seems to be reasonably benign. I’ve never played it so I don’t know what the people are like though.

        • deke913 says:

          60% asshat 30% moron 10% children learning to read.

        • Apples says:

          I never really had a problem with anyone on WoW. Most of the people I met were genial idiots who couldn’t spell but you could enjoyably do an instance with, and the young people there were just insecure, slightly boastful, slightly stupid kids, not malicious young adults like on most online console games. There was only one guy who was a total jerk but not really in a sweary, offensive way; there was one guy who thanked me so sincerely and lengthily for rescuing him from death by mob that I still get a warm glow thinking about it years later; and lots of people I anonymously danced with. Nothing I’d be concerned about especially with supervised play. Maybe it’s changed now? And I only played for about 3 months, so…

          • NathanH says:

            That sounds all right. Don’t let your kid play chess online, though. Lots of very rude and dickish people play chess online.

          • Imbecile says:

            Oi – I play chess online you cockweasel!

      • cHeal says:

        If your child learns to read by playing text adventures, fine. If they learn to read through an activity, which predominantly has little to no reading, then there is a problem. Imagine if I studied for my physics degree by watching Star Trek? I would have to watch a hell of a lot of Star Trek to learn anything about physics. A better idea would be to pick up a physics book, no?

        So basically if your child has learnt to read off WoW, they are playing too much WoW. Playing games is fine and can be beneficial but games are not a babysitter, anymore than the TV is. Everything in moderation.

        • fatchap says:

          Because learning always has to be an active thing right? If your child learns anything through interaction and discovery of life that is bad. Learning is for school and school only.

          And you lecture the Internet on bad parenting. This and princec’s reply have totally broken my irony meter.

        • El_Emmental says:

          I learned english only through TIE Fighter and X-Wing, using an enormous dictionary (I still have it) to translate the objectives and chatters during missions (this is why my reading skill is much better than my (rather poor) writing skill).

          Once we (me and my brother : one being the pilot-gunner, one being the translator-navigator-spotter) knew that space station or that shuttle had to be inspected, or disabled, or destroyed, we could properly do our job and avoid shooting precious cargo. Correctly translating the sentence was not only rewarded, it was crucial to the success of the mission.

          During the 8 years of ~2 hours of “English” per school-week, I barely learned the preterite and present perfect tenses. Everyone dislike (some even hate it, really) the english language here, mainly because it’s a frustrating and boring subject at school done by incompetent teachers.

          The only people not perceiving the english language as a burden are : (1) the very few kids who have close relatives living in UK or USA, (2) the rich kids who traveled to UK/USA frequently, and (3) the few gamers who started playing before ~2002 (after that, fully-localized version were available most of the time).

          So I learned english by deciphering sentences like “Scan the containers for illegal cargo” during approximately 2 minutes, then engaging in epic space dogfights for approximately 20 minutes.

          I don’t think that’s bad parenting.

          • Skabooga says:

            Translating a game with a partner as you play it sounds like an awesome meta-game.

          • YourMessageHere says:

            Once you get to a stage where you’re motivated enough to help your second language acquisition through games, having already got to a stage where you can use a dictionary effectively, of course there’s no problem doing it like this. In fact, it’s a great idea.

            There’s a big difference between that and learning to read in your first language through a game, though.

          • cHeal says:

            For a second language the dynamic is totally different. By virtue of it being a totally foreign language to you, the activity is incredibly dense with learning. Gaming is actually a great way to learn a second language. Not just video games, but anything that engages the pupil and makes it an enjoyable activity. It is used in education.

            We use our first language regularly and throughout most of our activites and language games are great ways to learn. However playing a game, where the use of language is an incidental feature, to learn your first language is ridiculous, when you could instead read a book… play scrabble or whatever.

            My point was in reply to someone who had spoke of their child (9 yo) being a very good reader because they play WoW. You would have to play an awful lot of WoW to have this sort of effect, which at 9 years old is insane. Especially given the game is rated 12+.

        • Apples says:

          WoW has quite a lot of reading if you stand about like a lemon reading the quest texts instead of furiously clicking things, but in a group there’s 0% of that happening. With a parent alongside though it might be a different story. Sure, you’ll probably mostly learn about what different animal parts are called (turtle flanks?) but hey that’s something. Also WoW features actual words which can be read, so the analogy to Star Trek is false because Star Trek features almost no actual physics content.

          On the other hand I’d be pretty happy for my kid to get a grounding in issues of morality and philosophy by watching Star Trek because that’s what ST is mostly about, not pseudo-science, and it’s a good interesting jumpstart for young people. Same with games and reading – it’s a nice fun starting point, not the ultimate way to learn to read.

          • cHeal says:

            We learn through all sorts of activities and gaming can be part of that, but it should not dominate to the extent a child became great at English because they played WoW.

            As you say, it can be a great starting point for a lot of learning but to dominate to the extent implied by an earlier poster, at such a young age is wrong.

    • Mordsung says:

      I learned how to do fast math through playing dungeons and the dragons.

      Learning from games of any kind is a pretty viable method of learning.

      • cHeal says:

        Darts is great for getting your brain switched on for quick maths.

    • RobF says:

      “One weird parenting trait which appears to have arisen in the past 40 years is that people will raise their children completely opposite to how they were raised.”

      Haha, yeah. Weird. Anyone would think people try not to repeat mistakes, eh?

      • cHeal says:

        No need to be facetious. My parents made mistakes with my upbringing. They know that, I know that. But I am overall a healthy happy and well adjusted individual so I will, for the most part bring my child up as I was brought up. Not exactly the same, but for the most part the same.

        The phenomena I speak of is one which directs people to treat their children like miniature adults because they always resented that their parents treated them like children. As it turns out, they never grew up and still don’t understand that Children ARE and need to be subservient to adults, for their own good. Children cannot make informed, rational and intelligent choices for themselves. They need adults, parents for that.

        Spoiling your own children, because you didn’t get a pony when you were 10 years old, is not good parenting.

        • RobF says:

          Sorry, nope. I disagree entirely and can’t see any reason why a child should be held within a subserviant relationship. Just because they can’t make sensible and rational decisions doesn’t mean you have to take all the decisions for them, y’know?

          • Vorphalack says:

            So that they learn from your example and can one day make informed, rational desicions of thier own. As opposed to reaching adulthood with the reasoning power of a child.

          • RobF says:

            And that’s reliant on maintaining a subserviant relationship how?

          • cHeal says:

            Of course it is a subservient relationship. Their decision to have ice cream for dinner can be overruled by the parents decision for them to have a real dinner. Thus the decision made by the child is subservient to the will of the parent. I didn’t say they should be banned from making decisions, but I’m not going to get into argument where I have to defend myself on such ridiculous grounds.

        • El_Emmental says:

          woaw, there’s a clear difference between spoiling your kids, and giving them the chance to make “informed, rational and intelligent choices”

          if your kid ask for a pony, you can easily say “No, because I am your parent and I have the authority” and get back to your stuff without providing any additional informations.

          or you can briefly explain that “no, because…” :
          – having a pony is not an easy thing to take care of (= consequences of your desires on your life)
          – do they really want it, or just would like having a pony ? (= identifying your desires)
          – a pony requires a lot of thing, such as land and stable (= real cost of your desires)
          – as a parent, according to your own reflexion and using your parental authority, refuse to give them that pony, for their own good.

          You’re affirming your authority, while proving it’s not just “personal”, it’s also driven by reason.

          Then, if the kid is really about ponies (= listening to you), see if visiting the nearby pony club would be a good solution.

          If the kid was just “joking” (= testing your reaction, not listening to the details), you can playfully tell him one can’t have everything in the world (or there wouldn’t be enough ponies for all kids), that choosing what you really desire is important to be happy with it (= emphasis on wasted effort, wrong choices), like the ice-cream flavour, chocolate or jam, blue or green, etc. The kid tested your reaction to a stimulus, you answered with a stimulus : interaction !

          If the kid is storming you with “I WANT A PONY >:(“, then it’s not about pony or anything, it’s about you/adults and her/him. Throw away the pony-stuff, show them you’re not being fooled (<= this is where they stop despising you, and see you as a respectable person), and show them your authority is strict, sometime unfair, but not arbitrary. They might get angry (kids really hate to lose face), but they'll be fine soon, because they'll slowly find out it's true (= strict, sometime unfair, but not arbitrary).

          nb: never brag about your "victory" later (I saw such things so many times -_-), especially in front of other people, humiliating your kids isn't going to help at all, it's turning them into enemies, turning education into confrontation.

          ps: I have no kids (that's where everyone go "boooo, get out !") but had to babysit kids pretty frequently, from the cool kid to the spoiled brat (two of these were insulting and slapping their parents, beating other kids and making very explicit written death threats to classmates – real minefields).

          • cHeal says:

            Yeah I agree with all that and I don’t see how it contradicts my opinion that children should not be allowed get their way, just because it is what they want, even if the parent or any adult for that matter knows it is wrong.

        • YourMessageHere says:

          “Children ARE and need to be subservient to adults, for their own good. Children cannot make informed, rational and intelligent choices for themselves. They need adults, parents for that.”

          Wow, that’s an absolutely superb demonstration of total lack of child interaction skills. Kids are perfectly capable of rational and intelligent choices – if you give them an environment where they can make them. Informed, not so much; your duty as a parent is to provide that information, show them how to use it and then let them practice making rational and intelligent choices, so that they can one day do it for real on their own. Coddling kids and making all their choices for them is a great way to raise apathetic, non-analytic people. The word ‘subservient’, though, that’s the thing that worries me most. If you mean they should listen to what their parents say, that’s true to a point – they also need room to do what they want and make their own mistakes, and thus learn. If you mean actually subservient, i.e. intentionally dependent on their parents without will or opinion of their own, doing what the parents say unquestioningly…that’s everything a human should not be.

          I don’t have children, nor do I want to, but whenever I meet a child I treat them as much like an adult as they can handle. I do this because my mother never saw me as subservient, but as simply younger and in need of knowledge and experience. I also do it because I find kids respond better to people who respect their intellect.

    • Vorphalack says:

      I think you have it right. It’s a real problem with modern society that people have become so sensative about handing out and recieving parental advice. I don’t personally know a huge number of people with children, but of those I do the ones with the best behaved (and happy) kids are parent / teacher first and friend second.

      The computer games industry is just a softer target than going after the parents. More pf the public will quite happily hang gaming in the court of public opinion that face dealing with the problems that may very well be present in their own homes. I really hope we don’t reach the point of legislature against gaming thanks to the scaremoungering of a few, very loud public officials.

      • RobF says:

        What are we going after the parents *for* again? Can you remind me? I missed that bit.

  31. DiamondDog says:

    After reading about the Daniel Bartlam case I’m much more worried about the effects of Coronation Street on kids.

    I mean, it has no age restrictions and is basically a ‘How-To’ guide for murder!

  32. Yosharian says:

    I am a UK teacher and I say that it is poor parenting that is harmful to children rather than videogames.

    • Arca says:


      • Klaus says:

        I think every child can handle these things differently. If a child doesn’t understand that dropping an anvil on someone’s head = death and not silly accordion noise, then they should not be playing/watching more realistic violence. I have had a baseball dropped on my head (from a bunk bed) because it was ‘lol so funny’ before. Those tykes should stick to Peggle.

        Reply fail! :(

    • Arca says:

      Poor parenting is the reason for most of the problems in todays youth. My parents wouldn’t buy me any violent games until I was the right age for them.

      Lots of parents today cant be bothered checking on their kids and making sure they aren’t playing violent games, they see video games as a foreign object they cant understand and dont even bother to look at the screen.

  33. Mordsung says:

    I was first sit down in front of Doom when I was 9 years old.

    At 12, I could do ever fatality in MK2 from memory.

    From the age of probably 5 or 6 I was allowed to watch ultra violent horror films with sometimes extreme sex scenes.

    I have no criminal record.
    I am a passive individual and avoid a fight whenever they come up.

    Therefore, exposure to extreme sex and violence from even an age as young as 5 does not make an individual more violent.

    My anecdotal evidence just shattered her anecdotal evidence.

    • NicoTn says:

      I learned ALL of my English from games and TV, and i am not a violent person.

    • Reapy says:

      +1 so now we topple her.

      Same here, I watched violent movies and sex scenes. I avoided horror movies of my own choice like nightmare on elm street and friday the 13th because they freaked me out for a few days if I did so, so I chose not to watch them, not because my parents banned me from doing so. I still wanted to know the plots. Played all sorts of violent games when I was young (and all sorts of non violent ones).

      I’ve never been in a fight, I’ve been punched a few times, once by a kid in middle school in the face, I just sort of laughed and walked away, I got punched in the head by a teacher once when being a smart ass in class, I did nothing but obviously my parents flipped out about it and it was a big deal later (got out of my chemistry class which was cool).

      After that I just generally avoid pissing people off enough to make them want to strike me, and really since entering the adult world, I haven’t been around any people that use violence to gain anything over me. Now a days we use money to do that.

      So in my lifetime of violent media consumption, books, tv, movies, and games, (and I do like me some Michael Bay FPS RA Salvatore action ) I’m a decidedly a non violent person, nor do I use violence to solve my problems (most likely because I wouldn’t be good at it with no training).

      You know what is most likely going to make people violent though, wrestling, football (American), martial arts, and generally any kind of ‘healthy physical activity’. I actually find soft bodied computer geeks like myself understand that it is an unknown factor whether we will win a fight, and don’t engage in violence. People that can stand next to you and know 40 different ways to take you down and restrain you are most likely to use those tools to solve their problems rather than an more passive non violent approach.

      Ban sports, martial arts, and athleticism I say. Make us all too fat and out of breath to be violent. ;)

  34. NathanH says:

    The part I find weirdest is the attempt to blame poor attainment on video games. When I went to school, the video game addicts were the ones who scored highest.

    I’m not sure why she’s worry about video games causing violence, since apparently they also make you a tired unfit fatty. The gamer kids may be trying to punch each other, but they’ll pass out from over-exertion before their uncoordinated blows can ever strike true.

    • Mordsung says:

      One thing though.

      When we went to school, nerds played videogames.

      These days the nerds play the good games, but everyone is playing CoD and Halo and all that crap. They’re pulling all nighters and are more concerned with their level in CoD.

      So I could actually see the argument that gaming is having a negative effect on scores as now the morons, who already had a hard time to begin with, are also running on 3 hours of sleep after a Halo marathon.

      • Malibu Stacey says:

        Pretty much this. My teenage cousins all exhibit this sort of behaviour. The clever ones play stuff like Terraria, MineCraft, World of Goo, Aquaria, pretty much anything in a Humble Indie bundle or indie games on sale on Steam on their laptops/netbooks while their less mentally equipped siblings spend all their time on CoD, Halo or FIFA on their Xbox 360s.

        • Imbecile says:

          Yes, yes. Console players are retards. Of course. You may be able to generalise slightly by the type of game but just I think the platform is becoming increasingly irrelevant

          • NathanH says:

            Oh, well, if her point is that console games are evil and should be banned, then she’s obviously right and I support her completely ;-)

  35. Phantoon says:

    I still don’t understand this. Things were worse for almost everyone here sixty years ago (sure, WASP, you may be at the top of the heap, but you are going to get in an accident and die because seatbelts are not standard.)

    This thing about “games are getting more violent!” is ridiculous. Splatterhouse existed years ago. If anything, understanding that there is, in fact, violence, my god, has just become more prevalent. It’s like anything media classifies as an ‘epidemic’, when it’s highly possible that there’s other factors that lead to increased exposure. For an example of this, see the “autism epidemic”. It’s possible that not only is there just increased detection, but that autism has become a blanket for similiar disorders, leading to hysteria.

    And if you don’t like my opinion that I’m too lazy to look the facts up about especially when I went off on a tangent that’s completely fine and I respect your option to do so being exercised.

  36. Gothnak says:

    Last time i was in game i saw a mother buying UFC & COD for her perhaps 10 year old son who was constantly badgering her. I’d expect that yes, if he continually played games like that at that young age then yeah, he’ll be desensitised…

    Shops needs to ask who the game is for, and parents need to be less rubbish.

    I wasn’t allowed to watch violent films until i hit my teens, but i know a guy at work who lets his daughter watch stuff like Alien and she’s only 10…

    Not the developers, publishers, or child’s fault.. It’s all the parents if you ask me.

    • Klaus says:

      Well, that’s when I was generally able to watch those sorts of films. My favorite film back then was Rambo, of course I knew that was all fake. Even the substantially less violent films like Ninja Turtles, The Karate Kid, Dick Tracy have violence capable of being emulated. How fondly I remember pretend kicking people and stabbing them with my giant machete.

  37. The Sombrero Kid says:

    Industrial education is limiting childrens ability to learn from computer games, it should be banned.

  38. The Sombrero Kid says:

    No game ever made is more violent than Star Wars Episode 3 (Rated U), which features the slaughter of children.

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Excuse me, but the correct term is “younglings”.

    • Klaus says:

      Besides, that was done by the villain – Darth Vader. So it’s ok, we know he’s the baddy.

  39. cassus says:

    They just want to put blame on someone or something other than themselves. Teachers should do their job rather than cast blame on games. As for the increase in violence, I can’t speak for the UK, but in Norway, the trend has undoubtedly gone the other direction. I’m the oldest of a family of 4 kids, I’m 33, my youngest sibling is 12, so I’ve seen first hand and second hand what’s happened over the years. When I was in elementary school I had anywhere from 1 to 3 fights a month on average. And we’re talking full on lip-splitting, beatdowns, toothcracking fistfights. I very rarely started the fights, and I’d like to say I finished them, but that was not the case. I didn’t get bullied, but I was one of the kids that always ended up in fights. Teachers didn’t really bother with the whole thing.

    My oldest brother, now 27 got in fights pretty much never, and the bullies at the school rarely got a beatdown, they did at my school, but in his, very rarely. Teachers somewhat bothered doing something.

    Oldest sister, now 21, bullies pretty much had total dominion over the schoolyard, teachers went mental on a regular basis actually caring about the pupils, to no avail. Kids didn’t give a crap.

    Youngest sister, now 12, bullies seem almost encouraged. You can’t blame them because they’re troubled, so the teacher let them off the hook for almost anything. This is probably due to the fact that the teachers now recognize that there’s nothing they can really do, and now they blame it on anything they can find. This is just ridiculous and unacceptable.

    This is not a problem with kids, kids will always be kids, and violence is kind of a thing that happens.. Been happening for ever. Blaming anything but the ability of the teachers to instil morals and values (not religious values, mind you, just rational moral values, the golden rule, do unto others bla bla. etc) is silly. I sometimes get furious with how the teachers handle situations, and they really need to figure this shit out or find a different line of work. Not that we have a surplus on teachers.. Proven by the fact that one of my sisters teachers is a flaming racist, and the other one picks her nose with the door key in front of the students on a regular basis.. Also, her ears.

    • -Norbert- says:

      I think you’re barking up the wrong tree.
      Moral values are something that the PARENTS (or caretakes in case of orphans) should teach their children, preferably before they even get into school.
      A teachers job is to teach skills, abilities and knowledge, not values.

      • The Sombrero Kid says:

        This is the old Indoctrination vs education debate, the truth is it’s a teachers job to do both, as it is the parents job also, a teacher is used to indoctrinate people with the values of the state and a parents job is to do the same for the family, it provides a redundancy that keeps a population socially stable but not static.

      • Grayvern says:

        Teachers still teach morals if not in a didactic way as an implicit function of the school system itself. You’ll be telling me social policies don’t contain and impart morality next.

      • Klaus says:

        Teachers often do, if their hands aren’t tied by some silly parent, teach kids why they shouldn’t cheat, steal, hit people and so on. Ideally these lessons should be taught one place and reinforced elsewhere.

  40. -Norbert- says:

    I wonder if any of those panic makers ever considered wether they might have gotten the source and the result mixed up.
    Maybe those children aren’t lonly because they play computergames, maybe it’s the other way round. Since they have no friends, they play computer games all day long.

    My mother is a primary school teacher too, so I have a limited insight into the problems.
    Every “problem child” my mother or one of her collegues at her school ever had in their classes, with the sole exception of a kid mentally ill (as in the actual medical term, including strong medicine prescribtions – don’t ask me why he ever got into a regular school in the first place…) ALWAYS had some issues with their parents and/or silblings, be it abuse, lack of time on the parents part, divorce, death of one parent or a plentytude of other reasons.
    Not once did any of them have a pupil with a “normal” family become violent or disobedient.

    While this is far from scientific evidence, it shows a pattern far better than the so called “observation” of Mrs. Sherratt. Among other things it takes a whole school (with at least three classes per year) into consideration, rather than just a single classroom…

  41. Xan says:

    Video Games are a catalyst for irrational behavior, just like ANYTHING else.

    There are stories if children trying to jump from a balcony with a broom in hand after they read Harry Potter. The issue isn’t the game or the book, it’s the child and it’s parents and society around it.

    You can’t blame obesity and tiredness on video games, there SO SO many more factors….

    As for being anti-social, anyone ever put two and two together and realized that maybe, just maybe, people who are naturally more introverted or even anti-social chose to play games because of that and not the other way around?

    • Bob says:

      That’s very good.

      Any little human that’s clever enough to know how to play one parent against another, knows who is an authority figure, and who they’re most likely to get away with some mischief with, is certainly clever enough to know the difference between fantasy and reality. More to the point, what is acceptable behaviour and what’s not.
      John made the point about other factors that might be causing the violence, so sure do a study, but make damn sure all the likely causes are studied, not just video games.

  42. Abndn says:

    Why is it so rarely pointed out that it might be kids with problems who are attracted to video games, rather than video games causing them problems?

    Why can’t we ever talk about how video games — particularly online ones — can really help those kids? Friends for the friendless, inclusion for the excluded, a wide range of available experiences to those who can’t have them otherwise?

    Instead we get this bullshit blaming video games for problems that predate them by thousands of years.

  43. Very Real Talker says:

    “Obesity, social exclusion, loneliness, physical fitness, sedentary solitary lives – these are all descriptions of children who are already hooked to games ”

    as a former gamer kid, I must say that most of these are true: namely, low physical fitness, sedentary lifestyle and obesity. Not social exclusion but it certainly had an impact on social life.

    Of course now I turned out fine, I’m in great shape*, and I don’t play much anyway- spending hours and hours in front of a videogame just isn’t appealing to me anymore, even though I still vegetate in front of a great one occasionally.

    So I’m not in favor of banning videogames because I don’t believe in banning everything that could be dangerous. And even if I realize that it may have damaged me as a kid, does it have an effect on me as an adult? I don’t really think so, even if it’s something that should be decided by other people.

    tl;dr: banning videogames would be retarded but I still don’t think they are 100% healthy especially if you chronically spend hours in front of them

    ps ““I would suggest that if children are taking part in this fairly solitary existence this will impact on their speaking and listening skills which, in turn, will impact on their ability to concentrate and learn in school.”” this may be due to a deficit in Charisma by the teacher more than the videogame habits from pupils. This could all be a matter of shitty teachers justifying their shitty teaching skills- “It’s not my fault, it’s the vidya’s!”. Still I don’t think videogaming for hours is the definition of healthy, but this is incidental

  44. MrStones says:

    Had some 16-17yr old come up to me in a game shop the other week asking me to buy blops for him as the cashier had told him to “find anyone one in the store to buy it for him” so seeing as I was in a similar situation a decade ago and unlike me he wasn’t like me looking for smokes or booze I agreed, Took his cash and went to the counter.

    Hope he enjoyed his copy of lego batman and learned a valuable life lesson :)

    • Arca says:

      Haha I bet he was furious.

      I can’t believe that somebody working there would have told them to get somebody else to buy it. Surely they are breaking the law by suggesting that.

      • Apples says:

        So what though? Okay, yes, “so they are doing something illegal,” but I think a 17-year-old is definitely mature enough to play a shooty game and the age restriction stuff in that case is a bit overzealous.

        Or maybe I’m just resentful at the attempts to ID me every time I buy a game from the supermarket even though it’s only a 15 and I’m 21. Boohoo.

        • Llewyn says:

          Enjoy it while you can. Soon enough your light-hearted “Do you need to see my driving licence?” will be greeted by a dismissive scoff and a “No, that’s all right”.

        • NathanH says:

          Isn’t that a good thing? I like being IDed in bars, right up until the moment where they see my date of birth and react like “oh, right, you’re *old*”. I occasionally have a problem that the picture on my driving license doesn’t look like me, and looks older than me (it was taking when I was 17).

  45. jhng says:

    Great article and great comment thread.

    Fwiw, in my experience (two kids of my own, two younger bros and I was one meself once) of course kids copy what they see. However, the key point is that as far as I can see kids also distinguish well enough to copy ‘for pretend’ or ‘for real’ as appropriate. So you get lots of pretend violence after watching a Bond film, but lots of real violence after watching your parents have a fight.

    In fact, my three year old’s sense of fantasy vs reality is so sophisticated that she seems to be able to go down multiple levels of role-play: I have on occasion had to spend hours at a time pretending to be her pretending to be her grandfather pretending to be a cat. (And then you get confused and end up on the wrong level of role-play, following which she looks at you pityingly and explains that its just pretend… )

  46. Tom OBedlam says:

    As an aside to all this, gamers should also stop using “I played violent games and look how I turned out” as that’s equally anecdotal and ignoring the fact that we, as people partaking in this discussion, are sort of put outside of the equation a little by greater self-reflectiveness.

    • Imbecile says:


    • Mordsung says:

      That’s the idea though.

      Since her entire argument is anecdotal, a handful of anecdotal evidence in the other directions shatters her assertion.

      We don’t even need to bother busting out empirical data for this trash.

  47. ucfalumknight says:

    I cringed a bit when I saw the headline for this story. As a Science/Technology teacher for children from 4-10 years old in the states, I hate when we as “teachers” are all lumped together. I think the primary problem with games as well as other media is we, as a society, are not fully prepared to adapt to the exponentially evolving technology. We see this in a number of facets of life: Cyberbullying, sexting, and a number of other things. Blaming Video Games for social ills is like blaming Moon Phases on a slow internet connection. Society has changed. For some reason we can’t understand why childhood obesity is a problem. Well, first of all, we are no longer an agrarian society. We are not even an industrial society any more, as we have moved to becoming a technological society. In turn we are much more sedentary than at any other point in history. We as a society are more concerned with leisure than ever before. As adults we seem to base our life score on our “toys” and not by how much work we have done. Children are seeing this and emulating it. To blame any one thing for children’s woes is irresponsible. We must turn the magnifying glass on ourselves to see what values we, as the adults, must instill on the next generation.

  48. InternetBatman says:

    I hate the phrase “it’s bad parents.” Almost every single person is willing to blame “bad parents” in the general case; it’s easy because you automatically classify someone making bad decisions as the other and attribute malign neglect to the other. Loving parents make good and bad decisions with and for their kids, some make a ton of bad decisions that they don’t even realize are bad.

    The gross oversimplification makes it harder to communicate with parents. In a lot of places an adversarial culture exists between teachers and parents already. You can’t increase those tensions because students suffer unnecessarily from it. So things like video games and TV are used as proxies, because its convenient and playing less games probably won’t hurt the students.

    Finally, video games do help promote some unhealthy lifestyles. Being sedentary is massively bad for you. Foregoing social interaction for extended periods of time is probably massively bad for you.

    • Tezcatlipoca says:

      A good person can be a bad parent.

      Just a thought.

    • Sinomatic says:

      “So things like video games and TV are used as proxies, because its convenient and playing less games probably won’t hurt the students.”

      Blaming the symptom whilst ignoring the underlying cause is massively unhelpful, if not outright harmful. Should we have age ratings and restrict mature and violent games away from the innocent eyes of children. Yes, of course we should. Does any of that help if parents are willing to throw “Violent Massacre simulator 5” in their shopping basket without a second thought and let junior sit playing it all night until their eyes bleed from tiredness?

      We (be that teachers, gamers or society as a whole) should be imploring parents to pay attention to what they’re putting their kids in front of. If we’re shifting blame to these proxies just to keep the peace then we’re failing the children we’re supposed to be helping in the first place.

      • InternetBatman says:

        Who has the authority to question the lifestyle choices of parents? It’s certainly not teachers. I’m not defending dumb statements unsubstantiated with any statistical research. I’m just saying it’s easy to say “bad parents” and shuffle them into a simplistic category because they’re the other. This is especially true on the internet, where everything is more abstracted.

        At best teaching is a cooperative partnership with the parents. At worst it’s a process driven by suspicion, animosity, or disinterest. In both relationships the parents hold a clear position of superiority over the teacher, and the teacher can’t really do anything except for child services, and that’s only extreme cases.

        So it’s sad to say, but as a teacher, saying “video games are bad” in a public forum will probably result in more good than telling individual parents that they shouldn’t let their kids be so sedentary, which is a nice way of saying your kid is obese because they don’t move enough and eat utter crap. And I generally think there aren’t that many bad parents.

  49. Tezcatlipoca says:

    I’m pretty sure most nerds play video games. Just as an observation of myself and my friends and the media at large.

    Nerds also score highest in school, do well in life and generally have provided all of societies luxuries.

    If we ban video games what will we nerds do for entertainment? If I can’t play video games can I feel cheerful and motivated enough to continue designing, making my er…thing that I won’t tell you for fear of my intellectuall property being stolen?

    Definitely not. I’d rather shoot a gangster then punch my manager in the face (well, not quite but the consequences are non-existent for the former).

  50. deke913 says:

    I had kind, rational, calm parents who took me to church every sunday. And at 17 joined the military and learned about 100 ways to kill someone with a spork. What difference does it make if you are a violent child if there is a high demand for them? Perhaps we should be looking at our governments to see if they are funding these developers.