OPINION: No, Mr. President, violent video games don’t cause mass shootings

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Whenever a tragedy occurs, people want things to change so that it doesn’t happen again. That process is currently underway following a school shooting in Florida, with proposals across the country to increase gun regulation in the U.S.

Yet somewhere in the middle of this, many are calling for the ban of violent video games. Even President Donald Trump has met with gaming industry representatives to discuss the potential for virtual violence to cause real world issues.

“I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts,” Trump said at the meeting, according to CBS News.

However, banning violent video games, or even increasing regulations surrounding video games, will not solve anything. Video games do not cause murders in the same sense that forks don’t make people overweight and cars don’t cause drunk driving.

There are many arguments against video games, but there are a few that stand out among the others.

Many advocates for more regulation on video games say that children are desensitized to, and thus more likely to commit, violent acts. Even if this is true, and I don’t believe it is, the problem lies with the parents and not with the video game.

Video game producers already use a rating system created by the Entertainment Software Rating Board to gauge a game’s appropriateness for children. Every video game sold on a store shelf in America comes with a rating and a reasoning for said rating.

Games from franchises such as Call of Duty, Halo and other “gun games” typically receive an “M for Mature” rating from the ESRB. This rating indicates that the game is designed for players 17 or older, and retailers typically don’t allow M-rated games to be purchased by anyone under this age.

The obvious loophole in the rating system is that someone of the proper age can purchase an M-rated game for someone who is younger than 17. This is where the burden of responsibility is lifted from game producers and handed to parents.

It is the responsibility of parents and guardians to make the best choices for their children in every aspect of their lives, and that includes what sort of entertainment their children consume. If a parent feels that their child is not mature enough to differentiate between the real world and a virtual world, the parent must step in and look out for their child’s well-being.

In 2011, the state of California attempted to completely ban the sale of violent video games to minors. The Supreme Court ruled against said ban 7-2, and the late Justice Antonin Scalia added his two cents.

Scalia cited the First Amendment, stating that while protecting children is always an admirable goal, states do not have the power to decide what ideas children can and cannot be exposed to. This landmark case set the precedent for today’s arguments over whether violent video games should be banned or heavily regulated.

There may be many factors contributing to violence in today’s youth, but video games are probably the least among them. Rather, mental health and good parenting should be society’s focus right now.

Many of us who grew up playing violent video games were taught to draw the line between the real world and the digital world, and we grew up just fine. If more parents were willing to step up and pay attention to what entertainment their children are consuming, maybe we wouldn’t be having this debate in the first place.

Jason DeFisher is a junior in animal sciences and industry. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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