Joseph Horton

Space does not allow for a full consideration of the effects of using violent video games. I spend an entire class period in my course on child development discussing violent media. Among the well-established effects is that users of violent media are more likely to believe that crime victims deserved their fate. In addition, users of violent media have a distorted view of the world, believing life to be significantly less safe than it is.

It is true that people who are prone to aggressiveness are more likely to use violent media. It is also true that people who use violent media become more aggressive. None of us want to believe that we will acquire a taste for the distasteful, but if we consume enough of what began as distasteful, it becomes satisfying.

Make no mistake about it; video games can be a great use of free time. Research shows that kids who play video games develop better spatial skills and hand-eye coordination. They are also just plain fun. Yet the benefits of video games do not require gruesome images.

We endure a lot of ugliness to protect our right to free speech. Like Justices Clarence Thomas and Steven Breyer, I do not believe that restricting the sale of violent video games to people 18 and older would have strained the First Amendment. With or without laws that require adult involvement for kids to have questionable material, parents must be parents. Laws are no substitute for parental monitoring. While I find the Court's decision disappointing, it highlights the need for parents to be proactive and willing to make tough decisions.

Joseph Horton

Dr. Joseph J. Horton is professor of psychology at Grove City College and a researcher on Positive Youth Development with The Center for Vision & Values. Among the courses he teaches are Marriage and Family Assessment and Intervention, Child Development, Foundations of Psychological Science, and Advanced Research Methods. Dr. Horton earned his Ph. D. and master's degrees from The Pennsylvania State University with an emphasis in developmental psychology. He is particularly interested in reasoning in young children, character development in adolescents as well as marriage and the impact of marriage on children. Dr. Horton is part The Center for Research on Positive Youth Development at Grove City College. The research done by the center has been funded by the John Templeton Foundation. He serves as board chair of Pregnancy Services of Western Pennsylvania, a pro-life, Christian pregnancy help center. In his spare time, he enjoys watching college football with his family and taking his daughter to dog shows.