Thursday, May 10, 2007

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: Violent Video Games are not Healthy for Kids

Louisiana State Representative Roy Burrell meant well when he misquoted me, but now I am having to deal with the fallout. In trying to get something done he said this to the press:

“One expert, Pat Brown, a national top criminal profiler and parent, said that these video games are causing our children to become psychopathic killers by 9 years old.”

Well, no, I didn't say that and below is a correction of this statement he claimed I said (which by the way, I was never contacted by Rep. Burrell or his office for any quote).

Dear Rep. Burrell, While I agree with your concerns and approve heartily of working to legislate control over violent video games, I need to correct the quote you attributed to me that these video games create psychopaths by age nine. Violent video games alone cannot create a psychopath. What I have stated often in television interviews is that a psychopath is already a psychopath by age nine. It is a combination of personality and child rearing (by the family and community) that helps create that psychopath.

Violent video games can be a part of this picture as they lend to the loss of empathy that is a hallmark of psychopathy and young children viewing repetitive violence and participating in "killing" via video games are living in an unhealthy psychological environment. Furthermore, teenagers who are already psychopathic and then spend a great deal of time with violent video games are being inspired to act out their psychopathy in a similarly violent manner. Violent video games do not make well-adjusted older teens or adults into mass murderers (although there still could be more positive pastimes and inputs for these game playing individuals). Unfortunately, however, we must be our brother's keeper in a civilized society and just because not all people will be damaged by these video games, enough of our vulnerable young children and emotionally disturbed teens will indeed be affected (and consequently become a danger). For this reason, we would be remiss as a society to ignore this public health hazard that has gotten so far out of hand.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown


Levi said...

Pat, I agree video games do not cause children to become psychopaths they are already psychopaths and it inspires deeper psychopathic thoughts, and those thoughts are more likely to be acted on if they are playing violent video games where killing prostitutes and cops is the object of the game, or watching movies where killers are made out to be "cool" super strong and have super human powers. Normal kids are either NOT into those sort of stuff, or casually interested not deeply interested and inspired like psychopaths.

Ronni said...

Why are such games out there? It seems to me that producing a game that glorifies killing is sort of anti-societal in the first place.

When my now 17-year-old son was about 4, he was around a couple of middle school boys who were allowed to play Mortal Kombat. Bodies fell, bleeding, everywhere. Of course, the graphics were not what they are today, but my son was imitating the behaviour he saw in the game. He got extremely hyperactive, and spent a lot of time leaping about in a threatening way and yelling. When I banned the game, he settled down, but it took a few months.

At that is a normal child, with no tendencies toward psychopathy.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown said...

Actually, you are taking what I said out of context, Levi. While I said that video games do not CAUSE children to become psychopaths, it is not because they are already is because they are part of the entire more set of violent and unhealthy inputs that may contribute to a child becoming a psychopath. I personally think violent video games have no place in children's lives any more than I think pornography should be. Children should be spending time in reading good books, wholesome entertainment, hobbies, etc., and not sitting in front of a screen killing things.

All inputs into a child's life have meaning, otherwise what would be the point of worrying if our children are getting into the right school or program? Could it be we are concerned about inputs?

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown

Mika said...

Hi Pat, could you maybe share your insights on why you think us as people are so interested in playing violent games (or watching violent films for that matter) in the first place. I know I'm generalising, but it does seem to be pretty popular in media these days, and I can't help think that if there was no demand, there would be no supply.

Also do you agree or disagree to the fact that having violence in games could have the effect of releasing your tension and anger in a "safe" way?