Since the Newtown, Connecticut shooting left 27 children and adults dead- psychiatric disorders in addition to violent video games have been under the microscope.
ABC50 spoke with Executive Director of Benchmark Family Services, Peggy Feistel who has been working with behaviorally and mentally challenged children for over 30 years. Ms. Feistel explained that in her 30 years of experience, regardless if a child has a psychiatric disorder, violent video games are harmful to any child’s developing mind. In Ms. Feistel’s professional experience, she had strong views and opposed violent video games be played by any child, teen, or young adult:
“I don’t know how long the kid in Connecticut has been playing these video games. Video games are not good for kids in general. Their brains get hard wired to be able to accept nothing but instant replay and immediate gratification. Everything is very fast and your brain has to work that fast. For a young child, the child is still in placidity stage. So there is no self-regulation when playing videogames it trains the brain to have immediate gratification.”
In search for the answers or motives behind the Newtown massacre, Ms. Feistel explained that although Adam Lanza was 20, no one knows how long he has been playing violent video games. “For a kid who is 15 and older they can only insert themselves into the role. They assume the role of the killer, they become the video game”, said Feistel.
Ms. Feistel went on to state that an undiagnosed or undetected mental disorder would explain more:
“Somewhere along the line he had a break from reality. I have been working with kids for over 30 years. Something snapped and he lost it. He might have conjured up some sort of fantasy in his head.”
Ms. Feistel pointed out how Lanza destroyed the hard drive in the computer that left no trace of what he might have been searching for on the computer. This leads the 30-year behavioral and mental health educator to believe Adam Lanza was probably highly intelligent. “He might have been a genius with a very high IQ, but not in touch with reality”, said Ms. Feistel.
ABC50 also spoke with local Psychologist Doctor Grace MacDowell. According to Dr. MacDowell, “It is a very different case, we have no idea what influenced this person and his motives.”
MacDowell quoted Associated Press and pointed out that the mother was quiet about her struggles with her son. Dr. MacDowell said that parents that may now be concerned if their child has any type of psychiatric disorder should see a psychologist who can help. Dr. MacDowell explained that the Newtown massacre has too many unexplained variables and that no one can speculate or determine the motive.
According to a study conducted by Jason A. Drummond, M.A. and Eric F. Dubow, Ph.D., Violent Video Games, Aggressive Behavior, and Social/ School Adjustment, “Research has shown, rather consistently, that exposure to video game violence is related to increases in aggressive behavior, lowered levels of empathy, and difficulties in school (4, 6, 7).”
The study analyzed approximately 500 students from the 7th through the 11th grade. The results of the findings reflected higher frequency of playing video games regardless of gender, playing with peers or alone resulted in lower GPA.
Concerned parents should consider these warning signs, which has been gathered from this research. According to the study, those that played violent videogames demonstrated the following behaviors:
· Less pro-social behaviors
· Decrease feeling of social competence
· Difficulty making friends
· Difficulty with academic adjustment
· Less school involvement and more negative attitude towards school