After reading a recent article in the New York Times about the connection between media violence and aggression in real life, Dr. Michael Rich felt compelled to respond, writing the following letter to the editor:
Asking whether video games “cause” violent behavior is asking the wrong question.
As a parent, I constantly make risk-benefit analyses on how to raise my children. As a pediatrician, I translate complex science into feasible parenting strategies. Debating whether playing violent video games “causes” violent behavior misses the point for parents making important decisions for their children. Numerous studies, using a variety of methodologies, have shown associations between consumption of violent media and increased anxiety, desensitization, and, in some children, aggression. Children are always learning from their experiences - about themselves, the world, and how to behave in it. Not all children learn to be violent from violent media, but all of them learn – some to be fearful of a mean world, many not to care so much about the suffering of others. The question parents should be asking is not whether video games “cause” aggression, but whether we want them to learn the world as a place where only aggressors thrive.
Enjoy your media and use them