How bad are video games really?

Wired Magazine’s April 2006 issue explored this premise in a very unique way. Instead of saying that we still don’t have conclusive evidence that video games do any damage (and in fact there is some that they are helpful in some instances) they mentioned that the battle between older adults and younger adults/kids is age-old. Below are the quotes they used in their article.


“The free access which many young people have to romances, novels, and plays has poisoned the mind and corrupted the morals of many a promising youth; and prevented others from improving their minds in useful knowledge. Parents take care to feed their children with wholesome diet; and yet how unconcerned about the provision for the mind, whether they are furnished with salutary food, or with trash, chaff, or poison?” – Reverend Enos Hitchcock, Momoirs of the Bloomsegrove Family, 1790

(hilarious to me since nowadays the adults will tell you to “go read a book”)

The Waltz

“The indecent foreign dance called the Waltz was introduced…at the English Court on Friday last…It is quite sufficient to cast one’s eyes on the voluptuous intertwining of limbs, and close compressure of the bodies…to see that it is far indeed removed form the modest reserve which has hitherto been considered distinctive of English females. So long as this obscene display was confined to protitues and adulteresses, we did not think it deserving of notice; but now that it is…forced on the respectable classes of society by the evil example of their superiors, we feel it a duty to warn every parent against exposing his daughter to so fatal a contagion.” – The Times of London, 1816

(makes you think about booty dancing in another way, eh?)


“This new form of entertainment has gone far to blast maidenhoood…Depraved adults with candies and pennies beguile children with the inevitable result. The Society has prosecuted many for leading girls astray through these picture shows, but GOD alone knows how many are leading dissolute lives begun at the ‘moving pictures’.” – The Annual Report of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, 1909

(all this before a scandal was caused in the 40s by the utterance of the word “damn”)

The Telephone

“Does the telephone make men more active or more lazy? DOes [it] break up home life and the old practice of visiting friends?” – Survey conducted by the Knights of Columbus, 1926

(What would they have thought of IM?)

Comic Books

“Many adults think that the crimes described in comic books are so far removed from the child’s life that for children they are merely something imaginative or fantastic. But we have found this to be a great error. Comic books and life are connected. A bank robbery is easily translated inot the rifling of a candy store. Delinquencies formerly restricted to adults are increasingly committed by young people and children…All child drug addicts, and all children drawn into the narcotics traffic as messengers, with whom we have had contact, were inveterate comic book readers…This kind of thing is not a good mental nourrishment for children!” – Fredric Wertham, Seduction of the Innocent, 1954

(Like all good statistics, Wertham chooses to ignore what contradicts him. The people he was interviewing were avid comic book readers as a matter of course – ALL kids back in the 20s and 30s were! So why didn’t he mention comic book readers who grew up to be CEOs and other productive members of society?)

Rock and Roll

“The effect of rock and roll on young people is to turn them into devil worshippers; to stimulate self-expression through sex; to provoke lawlessness; imparir nervous stability and destroy the sanctity of marriage. It is an evil influence on the youth of our country.” – Minister Albert Carter, 1956

(All this because of Elvis? I think these things were already underway – some music from the 1920s is pretty dirty…)


“The disturbing material in Grand Theft Auto and other games like it is stealing the innocence of our children and it’s making the difficult job of being a parent even harder…I believe the ability of our children to access pornographic and outrageiously violent material on video games reated for adults is spiraling out of control.” – US Senator Hilary Clinton, 2005
(She, like so many others, continue to skirt the issue! These games are rated mature, if the parents don’t buy it, where will the kids get it from? Other friends? They can also access drugs and alcohol that way, nothing special about video games. From the rental store? Smack them with fines like we do when people sell liquor to minors!)