Violent video games, unlocked guns a dangerous combo for kids

Violent video games, unlocked guns a dangerous combo for kids

(HealthDay)—Shoot 'em up video games might be making your children far too comfortable with how they approach and handle real-life firearms, a new study argues.

Kids who played a version of Minecraft featuring guns were much more likely to handle a happened-upon but unloaded firearm than kids whose Minecraft game featured swords or no weapons at all, researchers found.

Worse, those kids were also more likely to point the gun at themselves or a playmate and pull the trigger, said lead researcher Brad Bushman, chair of mass communication at Ohio State University.

"This is not a game that is bloody or gory," Bushman said of Minecraft, "so you have to wonder how more realistic shooting games would affect children's perceptions regarding the safety of firearms."

For the study, 250 kids aged 8 to 12 spent 20 minutes playing specially designed versions of Minecraft, a game known for its distinctively blocky, pixelated graphics.

Kids were paired with another playmate and randomly assigned to play one of three versions of Minecraft—one in which guns were used to kill monsters, another where swords were used, and a third that was utterly nonviolent and featured neither weapons nor monsters.

After 20 minutes of play, the children were sent to another room stocked with toys. The room also included a cabinet containing two disabled 9 mm handguns.

There were 220 children in the study who came across the handguns while playing, and what they did after finding the firearms is telling.

About 62% of kids who played Minecraft featuring guns touched the handgun, compared with 57% of the kids who had swords in their and 44% of those who played a nonviolent video game, researchers report.

What's more, twice as many kids who played with crude video game guns wound up aiming the real-life firearm and pulling the trigger at either themselves or their playmate.

About 3% of kids exposed to gun violence in Minecraft pulled the trigger of the real handgun, compared with 1.4% of kids who had video game swords and only 0.14% who played the nonviolent game.

Roughly 1 in every 5 children notified an adult about the , the study discovered. About 6% told an adult without touching the gun, as kids are told to do, and another 16% told an adult but also touched the gun.

The results show how important it is for parents to monitor their children's video playing, Bushman said.

"You don't let your kids eat junk food. The same should be true for media," Bushman said. "You shouldn't let them consume junky media."

The new results jibe with a 2017 study of his, which found that kids who watched movies featuring gun violence were more likely to handle and use guns, Bushman added.

Nearly 1,300 children younger than 18 die every year from shootings, and about 5,800 are treated for gunshot wounds, according to a 2017 study in Pediatrics.

Although it's important to monitor kids' media diet, it's even more crucial to safely store firearms out of the hands of children, said Cassandra Crifasi, an assistant professor with the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research.

Even before video games existed, kids played with toy firearms—water guns or cap guns or finger guns or guns imagined from bits of fallen wood, said Crifasi, who wasn't involved with the study.

"Kids are innately curious and they're going to play with these things, so I think it's important we separate kids from firearms when they aren't supervised," Crifasi said. "We know from some national survey data we've done that only 55% of homes with children store their guns safely."

The best way to keep children safe is to remove all guns from the home, according to Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Guns kept in the house should always be unloaded and locked, stored out of reach and sight of . Ammunition should always be stored separately.

The new study was published May 31 in the journal JAMA Network Open.


Explore further

Are children who see movie characters use guns more likely to use them?

More information: Justin H. Chang et al. Effect of Exposure to Gun Violence in Video Games on Children's Dangerous Behavior With Real Guns, JAMA Network Open (2019). DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.4319
Journal information: JAMA Network Open , Pediatrics

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May 31, 2019
https://www.youtu...N8a3ZRUY

The authors need a little perspective.

"The best way to keep children safe is to remove all guns from the home, according to Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio."

-Of course. The best perspective is the preconceived one.

May 31, 2019
First, the link between violent games and actual violence is pretty tenuous.

Second, there are households that teach their children about firearms and those that don't. I strongly advocate teaching kids to use a firearm safely. Children as young as eight or nine years old can easily be taught to shoot accurately and to get in to good habits of firearm safety. Do this BEFORE introducing FPS video games to the kids. Do this at a public gun range where the kids can see people shooting targets and using appropriate safety everywhere.

Third, if you don't have the time to teach your kids to use firearms safely, there are many groups such as the Boy Scouts, 4H, your local rod and gun club, and yes, the NRA who can do this for you.

When kids know how real guns work, the unreality of FPS games will be obvious. They wont be tempted to act any of this out.

Jun 01, 2019
This connection was at least suspected for some time, but the Democratic Rackets only called for people to be denied the right to own guns. Evidently because the Democratic Rackets have massive investments in the video game industry. Such like as David Hogg, taking a Joseph Goebbels stance condemns guns, but not violent video games. There were even a number of suggestions that just having a gun around made many into homicidal maniacs.
It should be mentioned, though, that there are a number of other factors, a number of which are so subtle the plurality, if not majority, even those who had college "educations" don't see. Among other things, the fact that fatalism, that there is nothing beyond the most trenchantly physical. That there is no such thing as principle, only killing those around you. Note, too, video games, with their monopolizing of so many kids' times, leaves them nothing for quiet, for reflection, for discerning the way of the world.

Jun 01, 2019
Well which generated which? Why do people (mostly males) prefer FPS games?

An old quote which I can no longer find; an imprisoned military officer was set free and his sidearm was returned. "My arm is whole!" he proclaimed.

In a world of tech-driven overgrowth, intertribal conflict is unremittant. Tribes whose members share the strongest affinity for weapons would be the ones that prevailed. They constantly made them, practiced with them, improved them.

Girls play with baby dolls, boys play with weapons. Girls prepare for reproduction, boys prepare for conflict. What else would one expect after 1000s of gens of reproductive aggression and intertribal conflict?

Our hands feel incomplete without weapons. Its genetic. This explains the configuration of our favorite sports, our religious rituals, even our fashion trends. I was watching an old vid of Paris and all the men were carrying canes.

It makes sense that our favorite games are full of weapons. They dont make us, we make them.

Jun 02, 2019
The political perspective/argument above seems to have missed the initial point from the article:
Kids who played a version of Minecraft featuring guns were much more likely to handle a happened-upon but unloaded firearm than kids whose Minecraft game featured swords or no weapons at all, researchers found. Worse, those kids were also more likely to point the gun at themselves or a playmate and pull the trigger, said lead researcher Brad Bushman, chair of mass communication at Ohio State University.
That is, immature/untrained kids treat chanced-upon REAL guns as if they can do no harm in real life; so are more likely to emulate aim-and-shoot behaviour with that chanced-upon real gun, and so accidentally killing their sibling/playmate when they 'point-and-shoot' it at them like in video games that did NOT harm playmates in real life, only in the video which could just be RESET: all players alive/ready to go again, unhurt despite being previously 'shot dead' in the video.

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