In particular I was interested to see the sections on video gaming in the report. In the Executive Summary they write:
The evidence on video games is discussed in Chapter 6. There are some possible negative
effects of violent content in games, but these only become ‘harmful’ when children present
other risk factors:
- There is some evidence of short term aggression from playing violent video games but no studies of whether this leads to long term effects.
- There is a correlation between playing violent games and aggressive behaviour, but this is not evidence that one causes the other.
However, we need to approach unequivocal claims of direct causes with caution – there is a strong body of ethnographic research which argues that context and the characteristics of each child will mediate the effects of playing video games. This means considering the media effects evidence in light of what we know about child development. We can use this to hypothesise about potential risks to children from playing some games, for example:
- Arousal brought on by some games can generate stress-like symptoms in children.
- Games are more likely to affect perceptions and expectations of the real world amongst younger children because of their less developed ability to distinguish between fact and fiction (due to the immaturity of the frontal cortex).
I know that this report is a UK commissioned report, and not Australian, but I think there could be some interesting points in it for us to look at and dialogue with, especially in the way that the internet, video games and internet games connect with our ministries.
One question that comes to mind is that of what is people’s starting point when they name what is normal, or what a long term effect looks like. As a person in ministry with young people, and as a person coming from a Jesus perspective then my hoped for version “normal” is possibly different than some. In this I don’t mean not tattooed, not pierced, straight, well mannered and moral, nor do i mean (just) people who are not more violent than others, instead I’m leaning towards peaceful activists, lovers of people, people who not only care that there are poor, but people who do something about it, people who work towards the kingdom of God…
So, as I read this report I am not only asking questions about protection and violence, or about human formation, but of discipleship and of how games and the internet feed our vision for the kingdom of God and the bringing of sight to the blind, peace to the oppressed.
One of the things that really impressed me about this report is that along with the summary and other related documents they created a summary specifically for young people to read and think about some of the issues. The report has a children’s summary on it’s website that you can download and check out. Some of the points made in the pdf file would be great tools in your discussions with young people about pop-culture and faith…
Cheers to Ian for linking to the Byron Review report.