Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Weekend Reading: Grand Theft Childhood

10:12 PM on 07.06.2008 // 8BitBrian

While I'm certainly not the first person here on Destructoid to talk about Grand Theft Childhood, it's mostly been relegated to highlights of others' discussions or a mention on Podtoid. As per usual, I blame Japan on keeping me from reading my copy of Grand Theft Childhood, as I just finished the book earlier this week. So for this iteration of Weekend Reading, I want to dive into a discussion of the book and its message.

For those of you who don't know what the book is, it's the summary of research performed since 2004 by two of the directors of the Harvard Medical School's Center for Mental Health and Media on the effects of videogames on youths. The $1.5 million study was funded by the Department of Justice.

Just as a side note, if you've enjoyed Weekend Reading here on Destructoid, I'd like to announce that Japanator is now running its own Weekend Reading column on Saturdays. This week, we're discussing the cult of fansubs and their impact on the industry. We also take a look at how the various American companies have responded to the fansub culture as well. It's a rather lively discussion, so please be sure to check it out and join in.

Well, let's get into this.

I'll admit this up front: I had my feet firmly planted in the ground on the violent videogames issue long before I picked up this book. I couldn't see a realistic connection between violent videogames and youth violence. To me, the arguments always seemed to come from someone who had never sat down and played the games they were demonizing, and backed up their claims with studies that I had never heard of.

So the text in Grand Theft Childhood was preaching to the choir.

The overall message in the book, as you might be aware, is that there is no definitive connection between violence and videogames. The two doctors, Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson, conducted research in South Carolina and Pennsylvania, interviewing over 1,200 middle school students and 500 of their parents as to their videogaming habits, social situations at school, along with personality and behavioral questions.

What didn't surprise me was the fact that videogames have now become the norm for children, and not playing videogames is now the exception for children. Videogames act as a major social lubricant, where kids can argue over which Pokemon is better, or try to put their heads together to figure out how to beat a level -- it can create new friendships and develop social skills. Also, a lot of gaming that kids do is with each other. That should sound familiar to most of us here on Destructoid -- I can remember going over to my friend Andrew's house in order to play Zombies Ate My Neighbors or Batman, and marveling at how cool the games were.

Some of the statistics were more interesting to me. Namely, that girls were more likely to play ultra-violent videogames, parents with Masters and Doctorate degrees were more likely to let their children play M-rated games, and that most of the games kids had in their Top 10 played games list were mostly sports and action games. Halo and GTA made it onto the list, of course, but nothing like Manhunt or Metal Gear Solid was listed.

The biggest highlight for me was reading the kids' testimonies. All of the kids showed a clear distinction between what went on in the videogames and what can happen in reality. This was a distinction I always wondered if kids would make at that age. I know I could, but at that time, I was going through Final Fantasy VII on the PlayStation -- hardly as realistic-looking as current-gen titles.

Now, besides the research itself, the book also takes a look at past studies in videogame violence, as well as the media response to teen violence and the blame put on videogames. Let's tackle the other studies part first. The book takes a look at some of the studies that have purported there to be a connection with violent videogames and teen violence. Most of these studies either barely dealt with videogames (and instead dealt with "violent media," focusing on TV and movies), or were clinical and assigned an abstract value to what displayed "more" or "less" aggressive behavior.

The parts of the book that deal with mass media's coverage of teen violence and the blame put on videogames are something I had a problem with. In both the research and media sections, the authors were rather vitriolic in their criticisms, and it was as though I could feel a particular hatred for these criticisms of games. While the authors state that they have no biases at the beginning of the book, the fervor with which they attack Jack Thompson, the NIMF, and others is surprising -- I wouldn't expect this level of vitriol out of what is supposed to be a supplement to scholarly research.

In essence, the book provides a good presentation of their information, but in an attempt to contextualize it within the setting of videogames in the modern world, the authors start to overreach themselves. They take a tone that is clearly preferential, and leaves a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.

The book is an important thing to read, though. The research data is an invaluable tool to have if you ever find yourself in the argument of violence in videogames, plus it touches on child development and what's necessary to look for. While videogames don't cause violence, kids with a predisposition to violence are probably attracted to videogames, and it can worsen the state that they are in if they're already troubled.

Check your local library to see if they've got a copy of this book. They might even have other things interesting to read, too.

For those of you who have read the book, what are your thoughts?

Photo Gallery: (3 images)
Click to zoom - browse by swipe, or use arrow keys

 Follow Blog + disclosure

This blog submitted to our editor via our Community Blogs, and then it made it to the home page! You can follow community members and vote up their blogs - support each other so we can promote a more diverse and deep content mix on our home page.

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

Status updates from C-bloggers

The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Is it too late to write about the waifu wars? I don't really have one but there is a female character I have in mind that I want to talk about.
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
Bayo has high execution barrier and largely unsafe moveset but Witch Time is a huge saving grace. I bet people are double bitter with Corrin being in the game and being pretty reliable in terms of skillset. Definitely a safer and stronger choice than Bayo
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Streaming some Unravel then perhaps some Firewatch. Don't not come. [url][/url]
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Just got my Wind up Ifrit minion. I couldn't sell it, it was too adorable.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Just got my Wind up Ifrit minion. I couldn't sell it, it was too adorable.
Parismio avatarParismio
I was playing Third Strike on PS3 with my PS4 controller and I tried using the dpad for the first and noticed that it doesnt take corner directional inputs. Is this normal for ps4 controllers on ps3?
Larxinostic avatarLarxinostic
I swear, it makes sense in context..... Kinda. Hmmm. Okay, not so much. [img][/img]
Agent9 avatarAgent9
Almost done with my Waifu wars blog. pretty happy with how it turned out.
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Time to scream and shout. It's Nanako cosplaying as her big bro! <3
Mike Wallace avatarMike Wallace
Bernie Sanders vs. Donald Trump is like Gandalf the White vs. Handsome Jack.
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
Skellige is so cool! It's like the land of Valhalla Rising.
Shinta avatarShinta
God damn, Bernie Sanders is just killing it with this speech. Hitting basically every point. He even used the word "oligarchy." Probably the first time I've ever heard that word uttered on CNN. I think a lot of people in power are shitting their pants
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
In my haste to finally factory reset my tablet, I erased a blog I had worked on. Thankfully, it's fresh in my mind. It's another MGS blog, but it goes the opposite way of my last MGS blog. Pray this guy is not your husbando, for he is shit.
Sir Shenanigans avatarSir Shenanigans
Just ate a disgusting amount of sugary wonders in a Fat Tuesday blowout. Chocolate (birthday) cake, Oreos, brownies, cookie dough, and some creme brule thing. Satiation by way of eat-'til-you-puke is what Shenanigans says!
LaTerry avatarLaTerry
Is there any real difference between the PS3 and the PS4 versions of Valkyria Chronicles?
Shinta avatarShinta
KnickKnackMyWack avatarKnickKnackMyWack
Say whaaaaaat?
Gundy avatarGundy
Voting for Broforce made me think of the most American person that could ever exist. President Michael Wilson!
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
By the way, that IGPX collection is a new release. It's the first time the show is available in a complete package, and the first time it's been available in any format in about 10 years. [url][/url]
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -