• Conrad Townson

Call of Duty or Duty of Care

Updated: Oct 2, 2018

Those who know me will be aware that I enjoy the occasional hour or two of escapism on my games console, and so, recently I was perusing the shelves of a store that sells games. While standing there deliberating the kind of game that I might want to play I noticed something. Almost every game on the shelves portrayed either violence or destruction of some form or another. Those that didn't tended to put what could be considered a negative slant on the gaming subject. In fact, there were so few games that appeared to be positive in nature I was able to count them on one hand. This got me thinking.

In society we are quite vocal in our expectations of young people to respect and value ,not just their fellow human beings, but also the natural environment around them. However, increasingly, research demonstrates that children between the ages of 5 and 16 spend an average of six and a half hours in front of some form of electronic screen (BBC,2015). Couple this with the fact that the average North American child will witness approximately 200,000 acts of violence viewed through the screen they are looking at by the time they reach 18 (Kids Health, 2016) and it might be fair to say we have a recipe for disaster. In fact, there is now a sufficient enough number of longitudinal studies evidencing a significant connection between the playing of violent video games during childhood and increased aggression in adulthood (JAMA Pediatrics, 2014). So, if we - the adult world - decide it's ok to market violence, death and destruction to children from a young age, how can we expect anything other than violence and destruction when they start to conduct their life as young adults.

There’s something hypocritical in the fact that we as a society, on the one hand, utter words of complete disbelief and exclamation at youths who commit horrific acts such as the gang rape of a young girl or the stabbing of an elderly gentleman in order to steal his medals, but then don’t seem to have a problem with our children and young people playing video games that promote this kind of aggressive behaviour and certainly don’t petition against it.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have anything against games consoles. I believe they have their place in modern society and can be used in a balanced way to encourage learning, personal development and positive recreation. There are some very clever and well conceived games out there that are of a much healthier nature than those which encourage the user to carry out ‘car jacking’ and the mindless killing of innocent people.

I feel this is fast becoming a community issue that poses a serious question. As a so called 'developed society', are we willing to endorse, allow or encourage the use of morally and ethically corrupt gaming to continue to impact negatively on the development of our young people, and watch as each generation of society gets sucked further down into the gutter, or do we start taking responsibility for the consequences of virtually unchecked production of such damaging material by making a stand and demanding a higher standard for the next generation?

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