Video violence can have "profound negative" impact
By Bruce Sullivan
CNS Staff Writer
March 21, 2000
Washington (CNSNews.com) - A panel of experts testified on Tuesday before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on the effects of violent, interactive video games with the consensus being that games such as Duke Nukem, Doom and Carmeggedon may have a profound negative impact on young Americans while their parents remain unaware of the true nature of the products.
"When it comes to violent television and movies, literally thousands of studies have pointed to a negative link between watching violence and anti-social behavior, responses and attitudes," said Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), who convened the hearing to raise the awareness of parents and educators about violent interactive games that depict murder, cruelty to women, drug dealing and car theft in a positive manner.
"But despite the skyrocketing popularity and profitability of violent video games, the impact and influence of these games has largely escaped public and parental attention," added Brownback.
One segment of society that is apparently aware of interactive video games is the US military. According to Dr Eugene Provenzo, an education professor at the University of Miami who testified before the senate committee, the US Marine Corps uses the video game Doom for combat training. Unfortunately, said Provenzo, children much younger than the average military recruit also play Doom, which simulates a gunfight using the latest in digital technology.
"This is the cultural equivalent of genetic engineering," said Provenzo, who believes the violent video games desensitize young people to the horrors of killing.
One member of the panel, testifying before the senate committee, believes that violent interactive video games contributed to the tragic death of her teenage daughter at the hands of a teenage gunman in Paducah, Kentucky, in 1997.
Sabrina Steger said that she is suing several manufactures of the video games because of what she claims is their harmful influence on the teenager who massacred her 15-year-old daughter Casey and several other children in a mass shooting. The families of the other slain children are also involved in the lawsuit, Steger told CNSNews.com.
Although many of the violent video games are meant for adults, Dr David Walsh, president of the National Institute on Media and Family, said that a young child could easily buy the games.
"A 12-year-old can walk into almost any store in the US and buy one of those games," said Walsh.
Danielle Shimotakahara, 12, a seventh-grader from North Bend, Oregon, told the committee that violent video games permeate the environment of adolescents. The games, she said, are readily available for all ages to play in pizza parlors, arcades and in people's homes.
Shimotakahara has started a petition drive in her hometown to get merchants to adhere to age restrictions put on the games by the manufacturers but rarely adhered to because of ignorance or apathy.
"I think these types of games are disgusting. Parents eat pizza while their kids blow things up,"said Shimotakahara, comparing the harmful effects of the video games on children to those of "tobacco, alcohol, drugs or
Shimotakahara told CNSNews.com that she has found little compliance in her town with the video game rating system.
"I don't think anybody cares," said Shimotakahara. "I think every parent should go in the game room and check out what their kids are playing."