Moral Panics have always been one of my favourite discussions in my Media and Communications course. There is just so much content, so much research and so many theories and concepts explored as to why moral panics exist.
There’s no surprise that new technology, which has increased over the past decade, is one of the biggest perpetrators of moral panic. But the forever debatable question is, whether or not new technology and the content it displays actually has an effect on audiences.
Recently, my brother did a high school speech on Video game violence. Him, being a massive gamer playing MA+15 rated games at the age of 12, opposes the controversy enormously. While I was supposed to be pre-reading his speech, I ended up watching the documentary of the Columbine Killings online. For those of you who aren’t aware of the Columbine Killings, two teenage boys on the 20th of April, 1999, entered their high school armed with guns, bombs and explosive devices with intentions of killing staff and students. The two teenage boys murdered a total of 12 students and one teacher. After they’re attack, they then both committed suicide. The documentary goes into further detail about the boys individual lives, their plan of attack, the massacre and the aftermath. To watch it, click here.
Getting to my point, the two teenage boys were big video game players. Their behaviors and attitudes were found to be associated with the stereotypes of gamers – anti-social, awkwardness, outcasts in society and so on. It was also believed that the pair would release their inner anger into the virtual world of video games, which then horrifically was unleashed into the real world. This was the beginning of the sparked controversy that video games influenced the Columbine High School killers violent acts.
When I used to play two-player on the PlayStation or Nintendo with my younger brother, we usually engaged in Mario SuperBrothers or The Simpsons Hit and Run. As we grew older, there was the occasional picking up prostitutes, going to strip clubs and killing multiple people for money and drugs on Grand Theft Auto. What made the game so stimulating was that its graphics were so realistic and life simulated. Just like one of the most successful games of all time, The Sims, GTA let you control the characters actions as they portrayed criminals.
*Note: The only comparison I am making between The Sims and GTA is their real-life graphics and simulation. The Sims is not a apart of my discussion on video games influencing violence.
Just as some people use music, sports, or art to relax and mentally escape from the real world, some use video games as their serenity and enjoyment. It is acceptable for video game playing to be your hobby and something to be a fan of, however in this case, its a matter of monkey see, monkey do. When you see a violent act on screen, do you go out and replicate the entire scenario? I know I don’t. Though that doesn’t mean others don’t either.
I’m going to link this topic with another issue – cyber bullying. During the time when I was a twelvie, before the term “twelvie” even existed, MSN and Myspace were the popular media platforms. It was insanely common and easy to hide your identity online and become a keyboard warrior. Many school yard arguments between friends would then continue online after hours. Not only would kids spend a whole day at school being bullied or avoided by their own friends, but the real nasty words would come out in a Myspace inbox or MSN tab after 3 PM. The name calling would follow you home and make its way into your bedroom on your personal computer. There was and still is no escape from cyber bullying, unless you ban social media platforms all together.
So what I’m getting at here is the invasion of new technology platforms in the home. Playing video games and using social media are both activities usually done at home. A home is supposed to be about family, security, peace and privacy. With new technologies emerging and displaying violent, vulgar and just plain wrong content, one can become consumed with negative energy – even when they think they’re not. The accessibility to this content is also on another level, which refers more to the regulation of media and censorship.
To conclude, I personally believe the home should be your safe haven. A place that smells of freshly baked cookies and surprises you with new sheets on your bed. A place of family interaction, comfort, safety and happiness. Not anti-social behaviour, negative emotions and sedentary living.
Battersby, L., 2013, ‘Parents underestimate risk of cyber-bullying for teens’, The Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 31/08/2013, http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/parents-underestimate-risk-of-cyberbullying-for-teens-20130802-2r4wh.html
FULLEHQ, 2012, Zero Hour The Massacre at Columbine High, 20 May, Youtube, viewed 29/08/2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aV7qca3gbOw
Gross, D., 2013, ’10 most controversial violent video games’, CNN, viewed 31/08/2013, http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/26/tech/gaming-gadgets/controversial-violent-video-games
Korach, B., 2012, ‘Violent Video Games Promote Violence’, The Report Card, viewed 31/08/2013 http://education-curriculum-reform-government-schools.org/w/2012/12/violent-video-games-promote-violence/
Reilly, R., 2013, ‘Violent video games such as Grand Theft Auto DON’t harm children – and could actually be theraputic’, Daily Mail, viewed 31/08/2013, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2403032/Violent-video-games-like-Grand-Theft-Auto-DONT-harm-children–therapeutic.html